About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great books, and the necessity of three-hour meals. If she were ever to get a tattoo, it would say "Fat is flavor." Visit her blog, The Offal Cook.
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- Yield:serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- 1 pound lean beef, such as flank steak, hanger, or flap, sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch thick pieces about 1-inch by 2-inches
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1/3 cup vegetable, canola, or peanut oil or lard
- 12 dried red Chinese chilis, snipped in half, seeds discarded (if hotter dish is preferred, keep the seeds)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 head of celery (about 1 pound), stalks split lengthwise into thirds, then crosswise into 3-inch segments
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced into 3-inch segments
- 3 tablespoons fermented chili bean paste
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine beef, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and wine in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
In a well-ventilated room, heat 3 tablespoon of oil or lard in a wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chilis and Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry until fragrant and chilis are just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Slide the chilies and peppercorns out into a fine mesh strainer set in a bowl. Return strained oil to the wok.
Allow the chilis and peppercorns to cool for 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop very finely with a chef's knife or cleaver. Set aside.
Return wok to burner and heat over high heat until smoking. Add celery and scallions, season with salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly charred and tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm serving bowl.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in wok over medium heat until shimmering. Add chili bean paste and cook, stirring constantly until oil is red and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add stock and dark soy sauce, season to taste with salt, and bring to a simmer.
Combine cornstarch with 5 tablespoons cold water and mix with a fork. Pour over beef and stir to coat beef in mixture.
Increase heat to high. When sauce reaches a vigorous boil, drop in beef slices one at a time. When the sauce to returns to a boil, use a pair of chopsticks to separate slices. Simmer until beef is just cooked, about 1 minute after returning to a boil. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and place over celery in serving bowl. Pour as much sauce as desired over beef, then transfer any remaining sauce to a side bowl.
Rinse out wok and dry it. Heat remaining oil over high heat until smoking. Sprinkle the chopped chiles and Sichuan pepper over the beef dish and then pour over the smoking oil, which will sizzle. Serve immediately.