Stir-fried Ginger Beef Thai-style

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Stir-fried beef is a speciality of Chinese cuisine but when one uses the spices in this recipe the result is an authentic Thai treat. The ginger used here is a type called krachai in Thailand; it has a much more pronounced ginger taste than that of our Western versions. However, fresh ginger found in supermarkets and elsewhere works just as well.

Krachai is grown in China but is used there only for medicinal purposes – one of the most significant differences between the Chinese and the Thai cuisines is that the Chinese often use herbs and spices as medicines where Thai cooks use them as seasonings. Both peoples tend to be very healthy, and both cuisines are glorious.

This ginger beef is uniquely Thai and quite delectable.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) lean beef steak
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 3 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded fresh ginger (ideally, krachai)
  • 3 tablespoons finely sliced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 large fresh red Thai chillies, seeded and finely sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Method

Put the beef in the freezing compartment of the refrigerator for 20 minutes. This will allow the meat to harden slightly for easier cutting. Then cut it into thin slices 4 cm (1 ½ in) long. Put the beef slices into a bowl and add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and cornflour. Mix well, and let the slices steep in the marinade for about 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is very hot. Add the groundnut oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the beef and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Remove the meat and drain it in a stainless-steel colander set inside a bowl, leaving about 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok. Reheat the wok over high heat, add the ginger and shallots and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the shrimp paste and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Then add the water, fish sauce and chillies and continue to stir-fry for 1 minute. Quickly return the meat to the pan and stir for another minute. Toss in the basil leaves, mix well, turn the mixture onto a warm platter and serve at once.

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