Week 16, Meal 1: Beef stir fry with snow peas, tofu and shiitake mushroom

Of the many culinary techniques I know, the art of stir fry isn’t one of them.

Case in point: Prep for this meal didn’t start at stemming and slicing shiitake mushrooms, it started by scraping the last charred bits of whatever-i-ruined-last-time out of my wok.

Thankfully, Chef Brian made the cooking experience for Week 16, Meal 1: Beef stir fry with snow peas, tofu and shiitake mushroom easier with a couple of kitchen tricks that saved the day.

The Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)

1 T vegetable oil
12 oz. lean beef (such as beef tenderloin or lean sirloin), thinly sliced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green reserved separately
1/2 14-oz. package extra firm tofu, 1/2 inch dice
6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4-5 oz. snow peas, cleaned
2-3 T soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

Start by prepping the veggies. Stem and slice — or cut into 1/8’s — 6 oz. of shiitake mushrooms. Grate a 1-inch piece of ginger and 1 clove of garlic. Cut 7 oz. of tofu into 1/2-inch dice.

Thinly slice 1 bunch of scallions. Combine the whiter slices with the mushrooms, ginger, garlic and tofu. Reserve the green slices for garnish.

Thinly slice 12 oz. of lean beef. You can find it thin-sliced at most Asian markets, but if you have to cut it at home, a tip is to put the meat in the freezer for about 20 minute. That way, the meat is firm when you slice it. Season the beef with salt and pepper (which I totally forgot to do, lol).

In a large saute pan or wok, heat 1 1/2 t oil over high heat until it just starts to smoke. Add beef and stir fry until about 70 percent cooked. Remove from the pan or wok.

Side note: This is the step I always left out. I would cook the meat and then add the vegetables, but the liquid in the meat would essentially steam the veggies more than stir fry them. By removing the meat and letting some of the liquid cook away, you’re utilizing beef flavor without sogging up the stir fry.

Add the other 1 1/2 t oil and heat until it just starts to smoke and add mushrooms,  ginger, garlic, tofu and white scallions. Stir fry, stirring or tossing frequently, for 1 minute.

Add beef and snow peas and stir fry for 1 more minute. Add 2-3 T of soy sauce and cook until the snow peas are cooked but still crunchy. (Add a little water if the soy sauce reduces too much to get a little sauce back.) Serve topped with green scallions.

Even though it’s mostly veggies and tofu, this is one filling stir fry. The mushrooms and tofu suck up all of the meat flavor, so you’re getting your carnivore on while skipping on the extra calories and fat that come with more meat — essentially Chef Brian’s way of masking the good stuff with a little bit of the not-so-good stuff.

Good man, Chef. Make my veggies taste like meat, and lo and behold, I will eat them.

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