The Han Chinese eat very little beef, preferring pork, due to their history, method of farming, and philosophy. Muslim Chinese, on the other hand, don’t eat pork and quite enjoy beef dishes. One of the tastiest such ones I sampled on a recent visit to southwest China was in a Muslim restaurant called Mosilinl Arge in a large hotel in Kunming. The beef was first coated in a light batter, fried twice for extra crispness, and then tossed in a clear chilli sauce that was at once sweet and spicy. Although I was rather full from an appetiser by the time this dish arrived, I could not resist it.
Place the meat in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until it is firm to the touch. Cut it into slices against the grain, then finely shred the slices. Combine the meat with the marinade and mix very well.
Soak the dried chillies in warm water. When they are soft and pliable, cut them in half.
Heat a wok or frying pan until it is hot. Add the peanut oil and when it is very hot and almost smoking, add the beef and deep-fry in two batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain the meat in a colander.
Heat a small saucepan and when it is hot, add the 1½ tablespoons oil, garlic, and chillies and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Keep the sauce warm until ready to serve.
Reheat the oil in the wok until it is very hot. Deep-fry the beef again until it is very crisp, about 1 minute. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and place on a warm platter. Gently toss the beef with the sauce and serve immediately.
© 1990 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.