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It may not be traditional in the strictest sense of the word, but the combination of soy sauce and butter is quickly becoming a favorite both in Asia and here at home. Koreans like to add a pat of butter to their Shin ramyun, while the Japanese serve ramen with sweet corn and butter. Even McDonald's in Japan has a soy-butter powder for their french fries. Want something a little more familiar? Check out this Grilled Corn with Garlic and Ginger and Soy-Butter.
One of my favorite ways to combine them? In a stir-fry, like this simple one with marinated flank steak, stir-fried with mushrooms.
To start, you'll want to thinly slice some flank or skirt steak against the grain, which will maximize its tenderness down the line (check out this video for a closer look at how to cut meat for stir-fries).
Next, it goes into a simple marinade of salt, sugar, pepper, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, oil, and cornstarch. The salt and soy sauce serve to bring out flavor in the meat and keep it moist by breaking down muscle proteins. Sugar aids in quicker browning in the wok, while oil and cornstarch insulate the meat, preventing it from toughening up as it cooks. Finally, wine and black pepper add flavor.
A brief 30 minute marinade is all it takes for the marinade to work its magic.
Rather than overwhelm the dish with fresh ginger flavor, I like to use a milder approach: sizzling a chunk of fresh ginger in a little bit of oil before removing and discarding it. This allows its flavor to infuse the oil and coat each piece of meat as it cooks.
Next, the beef goes in. It's important to get your wok smoking hot before adding the beef so that it has a chance to sear and take on color instead of steaming and losing moisture. Cook it in a single layer until it browns, then stir-fry until it's about half-way cooked.
Remove the beef to a bowl and set it aside. We'll finish cooking it in the sauce later.
You need to remove the beef, because once the mushrooms go in (a mix of oyster and cremini is what I've got here), they'll start to steam away. If you leave the meat in the whole time, it'll overcook by the time the mushrooms are done.
Check out how much moisture they release! The key is to keep cooking them until all that moisture evaporates (this can take five to ten minutes)
Then they can finally start to brown.
To finish off the dish, stir in the butter, some soy sauce, and some minced garlic. The butter and soy sauce should emulsify into a nice creamy sauce. Add the beef back in, toss to coat, and you're ready to serve.
The beef and mushrooms come out tender, rich, and packed with flavor.
About the Author: I was born in Guangzhou, the birthplace of dim sum, and raised in the Chinatown neighborhood of Philadelphia. As a sibling-less child, cooking was a way to cure after school snack attacks and a way to keep myself entertain. That's how my love for food and cooking started, and it continues to grow. I blog at friedwontons4u.com and I am on twitter @friedwontons4u.