Why It Works
- Butter and soy sauce are a great combination that bring out the meaty richness of the meat while emulsifying into a creamy sauce.
- Cooking the meat first, then removing it from the wok while the mushroom liquid reduces ensures that everything ends up perfectly cooked at the same time.
It may not be traditional in the strictest sense of the word, but the combination of soy sauce and butter is 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 and 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.
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 halfway 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.
For the Steak:
1/2 pound flank steak, sliced about 1/8-inch thick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 ginger piece, sliced quarter-inch thick
For the Mushrooms:
1/2 pound mix variety of mushrooms, sliced about a quarter-inch or more thick
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
Steamed white rice, for serving
Place the beef in a large bowl. Add the salt, sugar, ground black pepper, Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon oil, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside for 30 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the ginger. Cook for 30 seconds and then remove and discard the ginger.
If the wok is no longer smoking, reheat until it is, then add the beef. Spread the beef out with the spatula, cook without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Continue to cook while stirring regularly until half cooked, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in wok over high heat until smoking. Add the mushrooms. Stir and cook the mushrooms until they start releasing their water. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the water evaporates. Depending on the type of mushrooms you use, this can take 5 minutes or more.
Once the water evaporates, add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. Stir and add in the butter and garlic. Toss the butter with the mushrooms until fragrant, about 1 minute, then return the beef to the wok. Cook, stirring, until beef is cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a serving platter immediately and serve with white rice.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 2 to 3|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||39%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||40%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 4mg||19%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|