I was a little behind this week and didn’t get to photographing today’s recipe until yesterday late afternoon. As I went to make a yummy vegetarian dinner starring black beans, I was shocked and surprised to find my black beans were a funny shade of red. Probably because the giant Costco case I just bought was actually kidney beans. Looks like I have a lot of chili in my future. It reminded me of the time I first made Kate’s Red Beans and Rice and thought they were horrible. That was until I realized I accidentally made them with pinto beans (tuns out the real recipe is awesome and amazing and delicious.) Apparently I need to look more closely when I’m shopping for beans. Anyway, since my family observes the Sabbath, we don’t shop on Sundays, so that meant my procrastination and lack of black beans led to a quick change in plans. I had a flank steak that needed cooking, and I had been thinking all week about my Asian Orange Chicken recipe from our cook book and remembered I wanted to try this beef recipe, which was really similar. It was a happy change of plans because we absolutely devoured this Orange Beef. It boasts perfectly balanced flavors and can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes on the stove top with pretty normal ingredients. Can’t beat that! It’s a great week-night dinner that’s faster, healthier, and better tasting that its take-out counterpart.
The base for this bright, flavorful sauce comes from fresh oranges. I’d grab 2 just to be sure you have enough. First zest an orange into a bowl, and then add some of the fresh juice. If you don’t have a microplane, get one.
It’s no secret that we’re citrus junkies around here. Fresh zest adds ridiculous flavor and it’s one of the best ways to brighten up a dish.
The rest of the ingredients are really simple. A little dark brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Asian chili sauce. We’ll also put in a little cornstarch to thicken it.
These are all things that will last forever in your fridge and pantry, so buy them once and use them for a while. Rice vinegar can be found with all of the other vinegars at the grocery store, and look in the Asian Foods aisle for the Sweet Chili Sauce (sometimes called “Asian Chili Garlic Sauce” or “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce”). I can often find it in bottles like this:
Or sometimes small glass jars, but it’s something that should be pretty available in most grocery stores. It’s got a little kick to it, but it’s not super spicy. It adds sweetness and flavor and little flecks of color, too.
You’ll also need a little fresh ginger. If the looks of that scares you off, just read this post all about using fresh ginger. It tastes amazing, and keeps for a long time in the freezer if you don’t use it all.
Once that quick sauce is whisked up, just set it aside and bust out the beef. We’re using flank steak here and since we need it cut super thin, it really helps to pop it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you cut it. You don’t want it completely frozen through, just firm enough to add some resistance so you can slice it as thin as possible.
Make sure you cut it across the grain. You’ll notice the lines or “grain” in flank steak run horizontally, the long way. See the little lines in my photo from left to right? Cutting “against the grain” means to cut perpendicular to those lines. If you don’t do that, you’ll get a horribly chewy piece of meat. Cut the steak as thin as you possibly can- cutting it thick with also result in chewy steak and we don’t want that.
Give your sliced steak a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper
And then toss it in a hot oiled skillet. You’ll want to do half of the steak at a time so you don’t crowd the pan and boil the meat instead. Let it cook for about a minute without turning it at all.
Then toss it around for another couple of minutes until it’s cooked through. It’s super thin so it only takes a couple of minutes- avoid overcooking so it stays nice and tender.
When the meat is done cooking, remove it from the pan and add the sauce in there. Bring it to a simmer and use a spatula to help get all of those browned bits off the bottom of the pan. When the sauce simmers for a minute or two it will become nice and thick.
And then you can add the steak back in and toss to coat.
Slice up some green onions,
And serve it over brown or white rice.
It’s sweet and savory and bright and flavorful. This sauce is spot on, and it perfectly clings to the tender steak. It’s loads better than take-out, and faster too!
Chinese Orange Beef
Recipe slightly adapted from ATK Quick Family Cook Book
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (I just zest 1 whole orange)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
vegetable oil for pan
1-1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed and sliced thin across grain and lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper (to clarify: that’s one steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds)
3-4 green onions, sliced
hot white or brown rice for serving
Whisk orange zest and orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with oil and tilt to coat. Add half of beef, breaking up any clumps and let cook without stirring for one minute. Stir beef and continue to cook until browned, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl and cover. Repeat with remaining beef and transfer to bowl.
Whisk sauce to recombine, add to now-empty skillet, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Return cooked beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Serves 4 main dish servings (Feeds my husband and I and 3 smaller kids just fine.)
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