One of the first things I learned to cook as a child was Sweet and Sour Chicken. Granted, it was initially a jar of Uncle Ben’s, but I soon progressed to making my own sauce from scratch with the help of my mum’s cookbooks. My mum really encouraged my cooking (after all it meant I was happy to prepare and cook for my brothers and sister!) although she wasn’t so keen on the mess I’d leave behind. Nowadays I’m a much tidier cook, helped of course by the fact I’m the one who has to clean up!
Fast forward 25 years and I appreciate something with a bit more flavour; don’t get me wrong, I still love sweet and sour, but this is punchier and sticky from the cornflour and scant sauce. I always make this with beef skirt, it’s a cheaper cut but flavoursome, and suits being cut into thin strips, but you could use a steak of your choice. I include a chilli as I like the heat, but it’s not essential, and you’ll still get a bit of fire from the ginger. I prefer dark soy sauce in this dish, for both colour and flavour, and it also helps contribute to the stickiness. The garnishes are by no means obligatory, by all means use just one or two, or even none.
Now, this beef dish is so quick to cook – once you start it in the wok it’ll be ready to serve in about five minutes, so the key is preparation. Have everything ready to go (it should only take about 10 minutes to prepare) and then follow my steps in quick succession and hey presto, dinner is ready!
- 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 1 chilli (optional), finely diced
- 2 medium carrots or 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal
- 3 spring onions sliced diagonally
- 250g beef skirt cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 heaped tbsp corn flour
- To garnish (optional):
- Coriander leaves
- Sesame seeds
- Crispy onions (I buy ones ready fried)
Step 1: Prepare all of the ingredients so you are ready to cook. Once you start it’ll be ready in about five minutes!
Step 2: Heat 2 tbsp of oil on a high heat in a wok.
Step 3: Add the meat and quickly stir to avoid it from sticking.
Step 4: Add the cornflour and stir to coat the oily beef.
Step 5: Add the garlic, ginger and chilli (if using) and stir.
Step 6: Add the spring onion and carrot and then stir.
Step 7: Add the sugar, dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil, then stir so everything is coated.
Step 8: Stir fry for 2-3 minutes, by which time the meat should be cooked through and the vegetables al dente.
Serve with rice (I like to use sticky sushi rice) and add the garnishes, if you are using. I would also recommmend a few prawn crackers on the side.