Chinese food is probably my second favorite cuisine on the planet next to Italian. I love it all from the high-end 5 star establishments like Hakkasan and Cafe China, to the smaller, more authentic eateries you’ll find in the heart of NYC’s Chinatown.
I also happen to love Chinese takeout. And that can be a problem.
It’s not a problem because Chinese food is inherently unhealthy… In fact, the typical formula for a large number of Chinese entrees is a combination of protein, vegetables, sauce, and rice / noodles, a formula that allows for a nearly endless variety of healthy, delicious meals.
But when I start browsing the menu, my greedy eyes somehow immediately lock on to the deep fried, high fat stuff. Sesame beef, General Tso’s chicken, fried pork dumplings, egg rolls, pork fried rice…
You get the picture, and it ain’t pretty.
So when that craving for Chinese food strikes, it’s important for me to have a good recipe in the arsenal that I can use to satisfy my hunger without ruining my diet, and that’s where this week’s recipe comes in.
It’s a simple, easy to make dish with relatively few ingredients. It tastes close enough to something you might get at a Chinese restaurant, and you can whip it up in just under 30 minutes.
I usually use a lean beef (top sirloin) as the protein for this dish, but you can easily make it with chicken instead to reduce the amount of calories and fat.
Clean food purists may be clutching their chests upon the sight of brown sugar and corn starch in the ingredients list, but I like to use these types of ingredients in moderation because they add relatively few calories and a LOT of flavor. Adherence is much more important to me than perfection.
Serve this dish over white or brown rice and you’ve got yourself a healthy, high protein meal with plenty of veggies.
- 1 pound top round sirloin steak
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons rice wine or mirin
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- 1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
- 1 bag of frozen stir fry vegetables (I buy a mix with snow peas, carrots, and mushrooms)
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine / mirin, brown sugar, and corn starch. Mix it well until all the cornstarch dissolves and you have a smooth sauce.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet of medium high heat. Wait until the oil just starts to smoke, then put the steak in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until browned. Flip the steak over and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until it’s done the way you like it, then transfer to a cutting board or plate to rest.
Add the ginger and garlic to the hot pan and cook for 20-30 seconds or until fragrant – don’t cook it for too long or the garlic will burn. Then immediately add your bag of frozen vegetables (straight from the freezer is fine, no need to thaw) and cook for about 3 minutes.
Next, add the soy sauce mixture to the pan, stir to evenly distribute the sauce and veggies, and wait for the sauce to start boiling. Turn down the heat until the sauce is at a vigorous simmer.
While the sauce is simmering (and reducing), it’s time to cut the steak. Use a chef’s knife to cut the steak into a bunch of small 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cubes. By the time this is done, the sauce will likely be finished reducing, so just toss the steak into the pan, mix it up, and serve!
Recipe yields 2 servings. Nutrition information is for 1 serving.