Oriental cooking, somehow, has become synonymous with quick weeknight suppers. Dress it up some more with gourmet sauces or unique vegetables and the dish would be fit for a night out with friends. Beef cooked in oyster sauce is a staple in most Chinese restaurants. In fact this Cantonese dish is very popular across households in China, more commonly referred to as family-style food. Oyster sauce, as the name suggests, is a thick condiment created from oysters and caramelized with sugar. It’s strong yet subtle flavors do not necessitate the use of any other spices or sauces whilst cooking. The beauty of this sauce lies in its simplicity, much like its origins.
In a small village in Guangdong, China, a chef forgot to check on his oysters that were cooking on the stove. The strong aroma drew him back to his kitchen from where he began a new culinary journey in 1888. The oysters had turned into a dark brown sauce, which eventually soared in popularity. That fame is still going strong today, where a bottle of oyster sauce is a common feature in the larder of most houses around the world, mine being one of them. To uplift the simplicity of this recipe, I decided to use French beans and shitake mushrooms to give the dish a more earthy flavor and chic appearance.
- 500g beef, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup French beans, chopped
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4-5 dried red chillies, sliced
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 4 tbsp water
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- Marinate the beef in soy sauce, rice wine, cornflour and 1tbsp sesame oil. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes
- Heat the remaining sesame oil in a wok. Once the oil starts to smoke add the garlic and dried red chillies
- Cook for about 2-3 minutes till the garlic starts to brown and becomes fragrant
- Add the beef, French beans and shitake mushrooms and stir fry
- Stirring often, stir fry for about 5-7 minutes till the beef is cooked through and the beans begin to soften
- In the meantime, mix the oyster sauce in water till all the lumps disappear
- Pour it into the wok, add sugar and lower the heat. Stir to make sure the beef and vegetables are completely covered in the sauce
- Continue to stir fry till the sauce begins to bubble and the sauce has thickened
- Switch off the heat and serve.
A great recipe to be served with steamed rice or egg noodles, on a weekday or even at a dinner party. Aside from the time spent in marinating the beef, the dish would be ready to be served in under twenty minutes. So running behind schedule for a party, then this is your best solution. Succulent strips of beef with earthy vegetables and a subtle sauce: a recipe for people of all ages and palates to enjoy.