Of all my guilty pleasures (and lord knows, I have many), Chinese takeout has got to be one of my guiltiest, in all its greasy, salty, deep-fried, soy-saucy, MSG-laden glory.
I couldn’t tell you exactly when this love affair of mine started. I grew up in a family where pizza and delivery were synonymous, and where Chinese food was more of a sit-down sort of affair at the now-defunct Lychee Gardens.
And yet, somewhere along the path to adulthood I traded in the flat cardboard boxes of extra-cheese-double-olives-and-bacon for styrofoam clamshells filled to the brim with chubby pan-fried noodles speckled with shards of BBQ pork and shredded vegetables. I can’t even remember the last time I actually bothered to order a pizza.
Now that I’m on this whole healthy-eating bandwagon, though, I’ve had to cut back on the takeout. Unfortunately, all of the things that make it so delicious are also the thinks that make it bad for me.
Don’t get me wrong… some days I still give in to temptation, but that’s reserved for the absolute worst days. The rest of the time, I resort to making my own.
This beef and asparagus stir fry recipe is my latest attempt at filling the takeout container sized void in my heart. Beef strips are quickly marinated with a blend of soy sauce, ginger, chili oil and cornstarch, and then tossed in a hot wok with chunks of fresh asparagus and red pepper and a generous glug of bottled black bean sauce.
It’s delicious. It’s healthy. And best of all, it’s actually done in the time it would take for the local takeout joint to deliver.
Sure, ordering Chinese takeout is still easier, but this version is entirely guilt-free… which, when you think about it, is almost just as good.
- 1 lb striploin steak, cut into thin strips
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp dry sherry
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp chili oil
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 small red pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ lengths
- ¼ cup bottled black bean stir fry sauce
- In a small bowl, combine the beef strips with soy sauce, cornstarch, sherry, ginger, and chili oil. Stir together until the beef is evenly coated, and set aside to marinate while you chop up the vegetables.
- Heat the canola oil in a large non-stick pan set over high heat until it’s just starting to smoke. Add the red pepper, asparagus and garlic, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and bright green. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the beef to the pan, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Return the vegetables to the pan, and stir in the sauce. Cook for another minute or two, or until the sauce is warmed through. (If the sauce looks too thick, you can thin it out with water, adding 1 tbsp at a time until the dish looks saucy enough for your liking.)
- Serve immediately on a bed of white rice, and with a fortune cookie for dessert if you’re really craving a takeout experience.