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Inedible beef stir fry


jgm
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Last night, I made a beef and asparagus stir fry that I've made many times before. The procedure goes like this:

1. Cut beef into short strips. Put into a bowl in which soy sauce and cornstarch have been whisked together; turn beef to make sure it's evenly coated.

2. Heat peanut oil in a wok (I use a regular skillet). Briefly saute a mixture of scallions, minced garlic, and freshly grated ginger until fragrant; add beef and 1" pieces of asparagus, and stir fry about 3 to 4 minutes, or until beef is cooked through. Add a sauce made of oyster sauce, a small amount of sugar, and white wine, and cook about 1 minute longer. Serve with rice, topped with toasted walnut pieces.

During the cooking process, there seemed to be a lot of extra water bubbling up within the mixture, that I don't remember ever seeing before. My husband suggested that sometimes beef is injected with water to make it weigh more, and perhaps that's where the water came from. If anyone has any other possible explanations, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

I think one problem was that I had too much food in the pan, and so had to cook the mixture about 10-12 minutes total to cook all of the beef.

When we started eating what is usually a delicious meal, we found that what was on our plates was inedible. It had a strong, strange, unidentifiable aftertaste; sipping water afterward produced a soapy flavor, which makes me suspect a problem with the ginger.

I double-checked the recipe, and I used the correct amounts of every ingredient. I suspect the problem is with cooking the ginger too long. Will ginger develop a strong or "off" flavor with too much cooking?

If that's the case, then it's clear I need to cook this recipe in a larger pan, and probably in two batches.

Any other ideas?

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The water injected beef is a possibility.

But I think when you said "too much food in the pan" you probably sweated the asparagus, rather than "wok-ed" it. That means it let out it's moisture content instead of searing the outside instead.

Onions might have contributed moisture too. SOmetimes it's better to wok/fry things separately and add back in at the end and make your sauce then.

You can control the thickness of the sauce, and the amount of searing of each of the individual components more easily.

doc

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I always cook the meat and remove it from the wok before doing the vegetables. Then add the meat back in with the sauce. Too much food in a wok is also a common problem.

Me too. It's how my parents taught me to stir-fy. Meat and veggies separately then tossed together in the end.

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Me four. 10-12 minutes sounds too long to be cooking beef strips. I've made beef both separately and together with vegetables, and cooking the beef separately makes a big difference in the final product. Also, make sure your wok is really, really hot.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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The mystery is solved!

Oh, gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd this is embarassing. :unsure: But y'all have been so kind, and so informative, you deserve to know the truth.

I made some pudding tonight. It too was inedible.

That's because the (Tupperware) container that SAYS "Baking Powder" on the label, really is baking powder. It's the one that says "cornstarch" that contains cornstarch! Gooo-ooooo-oooollll-leee!

But I picked up some great tips for stir-frying, so it's not a total loss, right? Right? :wacko:

I got a postcard from my optometrist the other day, informing me it's time for another appointment. I had to take off my glasses to read it. :blink::biggrin:

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O.K. So you solved the problem with the taste...and sort of with the liquid...but I will reiterate what others have said:

Do your meat and veg separately, and make sure your wok/pan is very hot.

But- if you do put a lot of meat in a pan- even if it is hot, it can cool down the pan sufficiently enough that the meat will "Boil" in its' own juices instead of those juices caramelizing into a tasty crust on the meat. Either use a bigger pan, or smaller batches. This is one of many things that they pound into you in cooking school.

Enjoy your next stirfry! And new glasses? :biggrin:

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The mystery is solved!

Oh, gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd this is embarassing.  :unsure:  But y'all have been so kind, and so informative, you deserve to know the truth.

I made some pudding tonight.  It too was inedible.

That's because the (Tupperware) container that SAYS "Baking Powder" on the label, really is baking powder.  It's the one that says "cornstarch" that contains cornstarch! Gooo-ooooo-oooollll-leee!

But I picked up some great tips for stir-frying, so it's not a total loss, right?  Right?  :wacko:

I got a postcard from my optometrist the other day, informing me it's time for another appointment.  I had to take off my glasses to read it.  :blink:  :biggrin:

Jgm

That was the first thing that crossed my mined when you mentioned "extra water bubbling up within the mixture". I did the same thing when I went to finish a simmering pot of Hot n Sour soup. Instead of grabbing the yellow box of cornstarch, I grabbed the other yellow box, A&H baking soda. I had soup all over the stove and floor.

I posted about my incident in the I'll never again..thread about a year ago.

Edited by ChefCrash (log)
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Your skillet is overtaxed for this job. An inexpensive steel wok, over a very hot gas flame, (I don't have a stove for this job, but use a propane powered patio burner) is ideal, as the food is heated quickly bottom and sides, and falls back onto the middle as you stir.

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Your skillet is overtaxed for this job. An inexpensive steel wok, over a very hot gas flame, (I don't have a stove for this job, but use a propane powered patio burner) is ideal, as the food is heated quickly bottom and sides, and falls back onto the middle as you stir.

I think the real key for this kind of cooking is the heat capacity of your cookware- which means there's no substitute for something heavy. My gas burner is pretty underpowered, but since I switched from a carbon steel wok to a crazy heavy cast iron one, I've had much less problems with the temperature dropping. The only downside is that it's too unwieldy to pour food out: you need to scoop it out and that can be hard to do quickly.

-al

---

al wang

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Your skillet is overtaxed for this job. An inexpensive steel wok, over a very hot gas flame, (I don't have a stove for this job, but use a propane powered patio burner) is ideal, as the food is heated quickly bottom and sides, and falls back onto the middle as you stir.

I think the real key for this kind of cooking is the heat capacity of your cookware- which means there's no substitute for something heavy. My gas burner is pretty underpowered, but since I switched from a carbon steel wok to a crazy heavy cast iron one, I've had much less problems with the temperature dropping. The only downside is that it's too unwieldy to pour food out: you need to scoop it out and that can be hard to do quickly.

-al

A good suggestion. I have seen low priced cast iron woks in Chinatown, and can think of a few good reasons to have one.

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