Beef Stir Fry - Back to Basics 21
I am going to call this a Back to Basics as it is a good, simple meal that is easy to make, but so, so easy to get wrong. So. Stirfrys. Stirfrys were all the rage a few years ago, seems like woks were the new must have gadget for every kitchen, along with cleavers (good for banging and damaging your chopping boards) and knives so sharp that just looking at them gave you a sore eyeball. I am not one for kitchen fads, you have probably figured that out by now, but stirfrys are a really good meal to have in your arsenal, and if done well, which of course they will be from now on if you haven’t mastered the art already, they will tempt the fussiest eater into enjoying a bowl of veg.
This particular meal has a deeper message that we will go into later for all of you who join me for the nutrition portion of our program, to begin with let’s just get into the Cookie House and make something yummy.
450g rump steak
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs kecap manis
1 tsp sesame oil
1/3 cup pepitas
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp linseeds
Big plate of veg (I will explain more in a minute, keep reading)
1 cup baby spinach
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbs shredded fresh basil
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup water
1 tbs tapioca or cornstarch
Before you start I would like you to read the recipe right through to the end, stirfrys like to go fast so once we begin you will need to know where you are going.
First, your steak, you can use chicken here if you want to, or lamb, or prawns, in this case it will be steak, more about that later, I like rump steak, it has great flavour and is not too chewy, you can buy it pre-cut into stirfry strips but I prefer to do that myself as a good stirfry needs the meat to be tender and the best way to be sure of that is to cut it yourself. Here is what I am talking about -
See this bit of steak? I have trimmed the fat off it and I have taken the first two slices, what we need is for our strips to be cut ACROSS the grain of the meat, see those lines on the uncut bit? We want to cut across them so that the bit that goes between our teeth is like this IIIIIIIIIII, not like this —————, here, this one is even better,
If we cut this steak on the diagonal, following these lines, we are going to end up with long, chewy bundles of fibres, for tenderness we want short groups of fibres, so we cut it across those lines, okay?
Right, tumble that into a bowl with the soy sauce, the kecap man is (a sweet soy) and the sesame oil, give it a stir and pop it in the fridge.
If you are making quinoa to have with this, as per the photo, now is a good time to get that on.
Ready for the next step? Take your seeds and pop them into your fry pan, or wok if you have one, we want a medium low heat for these, we are not wanting to burn them or to ruin any of their nutrition, we are just wanting to give them a little kiss of heat to crunch them up a bit, when the linseeds start popping like popcorn, take them off the heat, put in a bowl and set aside.
Now, our veg. We want a whole plate brim full of mixed veg, let’s have a look at what I have -
Looks fantastic, doesn’t it? One of the things I love most about stirfrys is the vibrant colours and this is where that comes from. From a cooking point of view what I want you to notice here is that each of these veg is cut to about the same size, this is really important in this sort of dish, take your time, get it right or you will have big raw bits and small mushy bits.
I also have a cup of baby spinach which I have blanched in boiling water for sixty seconds, drained and set aside.
So now we are ready to begin. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in your frying pan to just below smoking point, toss in half your meat, lifting it out of the marinade so that the marinade drains off into the bowl, we don’t want that in with our meat at this stage, we are looking to fry, not stew, let it cook for about 30 seconds, flip it over, another 20 or 30 seconds and that meat comes out onto a plate, now repeat with the other half of the meat.
Pop about a quarter of a cup of water into the pan, give it a swirl to remove the nice tasty bits that are on the bottom of the pan, tip that into the bowl with your marinade.
Return pan to heat, add your other tablespoon of olive oil and any hard veg that you have, in my case that would be the leek, carrot and zucchini, cook for about 30 seconds moving it around often, add the medium hard stuff, for me that is the broccoli and the garlic and the shredded basil, another 30 seconds and then tip in the rest of the veg including your blanched spinach, stirfry that all around for about a minute until all of the colours deepen, toss your meat back in, stir the rest of your water and your tapioca or cornstarch in with your marinade and pour the whole lot over your meat and veg, now move it all about until well coated and thick and then off the heat and into bowls. Serve with rice or noodles, or, as in my case quinoa, top with your toasted seeds and some nice fresh herbs and you are done. Lots of prepping, but five minutes in the pan. Gorgeous!
It would take a stronger woman than me to knock that back!
Now remember way back at the beginning when I said this dish has a deeper message? I would like to talk now about the nutrition in it, so if all you want is a yummy recipe you can go, hope you love it! For those of us who are interested in the nutrition of things, this is a really carefully structured meal.
At 48 I am standing on the precipice of menopause, I have actually been in peri menopause for a couple of years, and I have a few health issues that restrict my diet as anyone who follows this blog knows. As you know I have gone off to uni to learn more about nutrition, with a focus on lifespan nutrition. The more I learn about the body the more I am amazed at how clever it is, we are each and every one of us miracles, and the body has amazing powers of maintenance and repair, but here is the thing, to maintain and repair itself, we have to give it the tools that it needs.
Let’s take amino acids as an example, there are twenty standard amino acids that the body needs to function correctly and we need to take them in through our diet, eleven of them can be synthesised from carbohydrates or lipids but the other nine must be obtained from dietary protein, these are called the essential amino acids and they are instrumental in everything from muscle repair to hormone synthesis. From this single example you can see that if we are not giving our body what it needs to do what it has to do, then something is going to go kerfluey. And there are many, many more examples of this. This is where good nutrition comes in.
So let’s have a look at this meal.
As I said, I am in peri menopause, so I am being very mindful of getting the tools my body needs to ease its way through this change, but actually this meal is perfectly balanced and good for anyone.
Let’s start specifically by looking at our choice of protein. I chose a rump steak, this is an excellent source of protein, amino acids and, very importantly, iron, more specifically, haem iron, which the body absorbs very readily. While we are on the topic of iron, let’s have a look at our other ingredients, pepitas are a great source of iron, as is broccoli and spinach, I would like to direct your attention to the fact that I blanched the spinach and discarded the water, we have spoken before about not cooking spinach too much as it destroys the Vitamin C, but in this case it is the IRON I am interested in in our spinach, and spinach contains oxalic acid, which impairs our body’s ability to absorb iron, blanching it and discarding the water removes this, but does not destroy the iron in the spinach, and don’t worry about the Vitamin C, there is plenty of that in our capsicum, and also in the drink you can see just above my dinner bowl. That is a virgin mimosa, I will put the recipe in another post, the Vitamin C in the orange juice in the mimosa will help us absorb the iron in this meal so we are not peeing it out the other end.
Our seed mix has also been chosen carefully, as well as being rich in iron, pepitas are full of protein and essential fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc and they are also high in a compound called cucurbitacins, which can help protect the prostate and may guard against certain cancers. The copper in pepitas is also going to help us absorb the iron in this meal and the manganese is a powerful antioxidant and assists in regulation of the menstral cycle.
We also have sesame seeds, which, as we have discussed before, are little powerhouses of goodness, high in protein and good fats, they are rich in the amino acid methionine, which helps us digest fats and they are also (very important as we get older, especially for those of us who do not eat dairy), brim full of calcium. High in the B group vitamins, copper, magnesium for good sleep/wake rhythms and protection against headaches and high in lecithin which can aid in the reduction of cholesterol.
Last in our seed bowl is linseed, which are high in many of the same beneficial nutrients as its companions, but also contain lignans, which can help protect against certain cancers, linseeds have been proven to help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.
Right, now, let’s take a look at this plate of veg -
What do I have here? Carrot, sulfur, chlorine and beta carotene, which is actually absorbed better after cooking, cabbage, sulfur and chlorine again, both great body cleansers, bromine for glandular function, good for regulating hormones, and a good source of the elusive Vitamin U, which can be used in the treatment of ulcers. What else do we have, broccoli, well that is just a super food, full of Vitamin A and C, calcium, phosphorous, selenium and other cancer fighting compounds, leek, garlic and spring onion, all in the allium family, the most powerful of all of the medicinal foods, capsicum, Vitamins C, P and A, zucchini, folate, potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus, and radish which stimulates protein digestive enzymes in the stomach and supplies good amounts of chlorine and sulfur.
We also had our baby spinach, which we blanched, as previously discussed.
Our herbs also have powerful medicinal properties, basil has volatile compounds that protect our cells from free radicals and are high in antibacterial oils. Basil is an anti inflammatory, can help with headaches and stomach cramps.
You may have noticed some fresh coriander on the top of my stirfry, I love it, Mr T hates it, he says it tastes like grated soap, but it is an excellent source of antioxidants and has shown cancer fighting properties.
Finally, last on my plate, quinoa, which is high in protein and contains all nine of the essential amino acids we discussed earlier. It is high in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, thiamin, Vitamin B6, folate and manganese.
So you see, this is a very well balanced meal, good for those of us who are needing a higher level of nutrition at the moment, and good for everyone else too.
Hope all this science talk hasn’t put you off your dinner.