Stir-Fried Beef and Celery (Daging Lembu Dan Saderi)
by Ping Coombes
The star of the dish here is the celery. It’s an undervalued vegetable and often an afterthought thrown into salads or soup stock, or served as crudits, or enjoyed with a Bloody Mary. But I love this vegetable. If I can have it stir-fried with loads of garlic, salt and white rice, I am a happy girl. I find the combination of medium-rare beef and celery divine, so here is my version of Cantonese black bean and beef, given a celery oomph. Serve it with plenty of rice.
8 oz rib eye steak, cut into thin strips
1 tsp Chinese fermented black beans (optional)
4 celery ribs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp whole black peppercorns, slightly crushed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp water
For the marinade
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp light soy sauce
Pinch of ground white pepper
Mix the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl, add the beef, and stir to coat, then set aside for 20 minutes. Soak the black beans, if using, in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes, then drain.
Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel a thin layer off the celery ribs, to ensure they’re not stringy. Then cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide batons.
Heat half of the oil in a wok or frying pan until smoking, then add the marinated beef and fry over high heat for 30 seconds. Remove the beef and set aside. There might be bits of beef left in the wok or pan, but don’t worry – it all adds to the flavor of the dish.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the remaining oil and the crushed peppercorns, drained black beans, and garlic, and fry for 1 minute, until fragrant (be careful not to burn the mixture). Add the celery batons and fry for 2–3 minutes, then return the beef to the pan, add the oyster sauce and water. Stir and cook for 30 seconds longer. Serve immediately.
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Recipe reprinted from Malaysian: Recipes From a Family Kitchen by Ping Coombes. Copyright 2017 Weldon Owen. Photo credits: Laura Edwards