I was a bit of a late comer to takeaway food. I was raised by my Grandparents, my Nan was a self-proclaimed Vegetarian that didn’t stop her from eating corned beef (I always assumed that was justifiable homicide) and my Grandfather, despite serving in Northern Africa and Italy as a Tank Driver in the Second World War had never tasted anything more exotic than a pork chop and referred to Tomato Ketchup as “Foreign Muck”. My Parents, on the occasions I lived with them (My brother was perpetually in hospital because of a unique type of Epilepsy) were of a similar ilk. It was only as a teenager in Secondary School when I exposed to greater multiculturalism (Well, as much as you can in an Orthodox Catholic School). There were Italian, Spanish, Chilean, Indian, Irish, Cantonese and one German family, I got to know a lot of the families, we shared loads of interests and I was amazed that people ate more than Roast Dinners, ham sandwiches and the occasional cake.
However, it wasn’t much later (I am a Sci Fi loving nerd that repelled females) that my first serious Girlfriend introduced me to Crispy Beef. It was a lifechanging experience for my tastebuds, I was now very keen to try all things red and sticky and Crispy Beef achieved its status as my go to thing to get as a takeaway.
I’m always in awe at the takeaway / restaurant cooks who bang it out in minutes, I can only assume they’re more experienced, better prepared and organised than I am. I will say prep on this dish is essential for the best takeaway level outcome.
There are a few options with this recipe. Firstly, the sugar. I personally prefer the tang of the dish which disappears when you add sugar and also, adding chilli flakes to the dish will increase its heat, so using sparingly if you prefer a milder dish.
2 Pieces of decent quality steak (where fat can be easily trimmed)
3-4 Spring Onions (for garnish)
Half an onion
2-3cm of Ginger
4 Cloves of Garlic
2 Carrots cut into batons.
1 Sweet Pepper
2 Tablespoons of honey
3 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons of Light Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Puree
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
4 Tablespoons of Sweet Chilli Sauce
50g of sugar (Optional)
- To make the beef easier to slice, place in the freezer for an hour.
- Finely chop the Garlic and Ginger (I prefer this to mincing it as it doesn’t waste as much)
- Cut the carrots into batons, the onion into strips and the sweet chilli into thin “O” shaped segments. Cover with clingfilm and leave to one side.
- Take your frozen steak and cut into thin strips, cutting away any fat, the thinner the better to get that takeaway / restaurant effect.
- In a large bowl, mix 100g of Cornflour with 2 eggs and a Tablespoon of water thoroughly to make a thick batter.
- Add your beef to the mix and marinade in the batter for 30-60 minutes.
- Add 300mls of Groundnut oil to the wok and heat (woks are so versatile to work with it’s worth investing in one. They start about £6 in Asda)
- Check the oil has heated by dropping a spot of batter in, if it bubbles and raises to the surface, you’ve got a hot wok.
- Place 4-5 strips of coated beef in at a time, trust me, if you put too much it you just end up with a reformed steak in batter.
- Allow each piece to brown before removing to a bowl lined with kitchen towel.
- Repeat until all the beef is cooked.
- Empty most of the oil into a container for recycling.
- Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and carrot to the wok and cook until softened.
- Then add the tomato puree, honey, tomato ketchup and rice vinegar, sweet chilli sauce, Chilli flakes and sugar to the wok and vigorously stir.
- Once your sauce is heated add your crispy beef strips and mix.
- Decant to bowls and garnish with Spring Onion and serve.
- Relax and enjoy your red and sticky treat, take ownership for your creation, and ponder why we exalt a political system that allows us to be ruled by our lesser.