As I mentioned in the intro, this orange zest beef recipe is not supposed to be Chinese food, or even Americanized Chinese take-out food. Of course, since it’s obviously inspired by those day-glow orange, deep-fried beef nuggets (which may or may not be actual beef), comparisons are inevitable.
While I have no delusions that those crunchy bits would be preferable to most people, especially ones that just stumbled out of a Phish concert, this much-lower-fat alternative is still a quick, easy and perfectly delicious meal.
You’ll want to use a tender beef for this, since the cooking time is only 4-5 minutes. Cheaper cuts like chuck are going to be too tough, unless, of course, you pound it paper-thin, or use some kind of tenderizer. I used sirloin, which worked fine, but ideally you’ll find yourself some beef tenderloin trimmings.
Here’s another instance where you are much better off going to talk to a butcher, rather than a clerk at the supermarket. A real butcher will sell you the scraps produced when a whole tenderloin is trimmed. The meat is cut from something called the “chain” (be sure to use that word to impress the butcher), which is super-tender, and probably half the price.
One last tip: Be sure the beef is VERY well drained before it hits the hot pan. If your meat is wet, it will just boil and steam, and won’t work as well. Of course, if beef isn’t your thing, this will also work with chicken, pork, and…[gulp]…textured vegetable protein. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!
1 lb tender beef, ideally trimmed tenderloin scraps
vegetable oil spray, as needed
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Sambal hot chili sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp orange zest
1 bunch green onions
1/4 cup water
1 tsp corn starch
salt and pepper to taste, optional
white rice as needed