Tuesday, 10 August 2010


If you're like me and always throw in random amounts of spices while cooking, this dish can turn out to be your Life of Agony. However, I ask you to take a leap of food and let me guide you through the bliss Asian cuisine can provide. As a student I used to cook together with an Indonesian friend making food his mother did bother to teach him, as opposed to mine. Armed with this experience I recently took up the challenge of getting the typical American-Asian take-away dish called 'Beef & Broccoli with Oyster sauce' the way I like it. For the uninitiated, some ingredients can seem a bit odd, but I'll give some tips on what to buy and how to preserve them. I've chosen for fried rice (nasi goreng), but plain ol' white rice is perfect too.

Ingredients (serves 2 ppl):

· Beef, about 200 g a person. Tim's has been rambling on endlessly in this blog about the virtues of buying proper beef. He's right.

· Broccoloid. A single trunk feeds about 2 persons

· Red pepper (fresh or fresh ones stored frozen whole. Hey, this means you can have fresh peppers all year round? What an excellent idea!)

· Oyster sauce

· Soy sauce (the dark stuff)

· Ginger (freshly grated or in a glass jar stored in oil or mashed with some citric acid, store in fridge)

· Garlic (fresh or in a glass jar stored in oil or lightly pickled, store in fridge)

· Lemon grass (fresh or, you guessed it right, in a glass jar in oil, store in fridge)

· Ground dried coriander seeds

· Ground dried cumin seeds (djintan)

· Shrimp paste (trassi)

· Sambal (hot chilli based sauce used in Indonesia. Comes in lots of varieties, I love the sambal trassi one which has shrimp paste for cooking and the regular fried sambal badjak to spice up food as a table condiment)

· White rice (basmati has an awesome flavor, pandan is great too but sticks a bit more which is less suitable for frying)

· Wok oil (peanut/arachis oil or mild olive oil suitable for high temperature cooking, i.e. *not* extra virgin)


1. Start with boiling the rice until done, remove the hot water and let it cool by spreading it out on a plate and put it in your fridge. Never eat cooked rice that has been between 60 degrees and RT for more than a few hours, as heat-stable, extra-ribosomally produced Bacillus cereus toxins will have your bowels turned inside out!

2. While the rice is cooling, chop the beef into strips or cubes of a few centimeters. Marinate the beef in 1 tbps oyster sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 thinly chopped garlic glove, and 1 thinly chopped red pepper in a bowl for about 15 minutes (no fridge, keep the beef at RT!)

3. Put your wok on the fire, add oil until its almost smoking. Then quickly add 1 tsp shrimp paste, 1 tbsp sambal, 1 tsp lemon grass (or one piece of grass, remove after cooking), 1 tsp ginger. Stir for about 10 seconds, this will release an aroma that instantly kills Chris Barnes so I recommend opening up a window and remove all children and other innocent animals. Then add the rice and stir it while on full heat until golden brown (I always wanted to write that in a recipe!). Add coriander and cumin to taste. If you like bonus veggies, this is the moment you can add tauge (bean sprouts), chopped carrots, chinese cabbage, whatever you fancy, but don't worry, there'll be broccoloids acomin'! Remove from wok and keep hot.

4. Clean and chop up the broccoloid trunk, larger pieces in fours, and smaller ones in halves, remove most of the common stem. Now's the time where tr00 wok sk1llz0rs need to be mastered. Heat a wok with plenty of oil until it’s extremely hot and smoking. Depending on the material, weight and size of your wok, add the broccoloids in several portions. The wok needs to be as hot as possible throughout cooking. Wok every portion for about 3-4 minutes, stir like hell. For every burned broccoloid, chances will reduce the broccoloid queen will let you sleep with her hot broccoloid daughters! Put aside finished portions on a plate.

5. Now apply the newly acquired wok skills on the marinated beef, cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add the broccoloids until everything's hot but not longer than a few more minutes.

6. Re-fry the fried rice to heat it up if necessary. Serve the beef&broccoloids with the fried rice. You can add a lime wedge or some nice Asian condiments like fried onions (bawang goreng), seroendeng (a mixture of grated coconut, peanuts, onions and spices) and of course more sambal to the table to finish it off!

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