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Milk Street Recipe

Spicy Dry-Fried Beef and Celery

40 minutes

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Spicy Dry-Fried Beef and Celery

In Chinese cooking, dry-frying, or gan bian, is a technique in which a protein or vegetable first is browned, then is stir-fried with aromatics and seasonings that cling to the browned surfaces. Dry-fried dishes aren’t saucy like typical stir-fries, but the flavors are intense and concentrated. Beef and celery is a classic dry-fried combination. For this version, we use a tender, meaty strip steak, cut it into matchsticks, and brown it in a hot skillet before introducing the other ingredients. Salty, savory fermented chili-bean paste called toban djan provides loads of umami (chili-garlic sauce is a good alternative) and Sichuan peppercorns bring their unique tongue-tingling spice. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t skip the step of salting the celery before cooking. The salt draws out some of the water from the celery, ensuring the slices are a tender-crisp counterpoint to the beef. Also, be sure to use low-sodium soy sauce or the stir-fry may end up overseasoned (toban djan is high in salt). If you have only regular soy sauce, dilute 1 tablespoon with an equal amount of water and use it in place of the low-sodium soy.

40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6-7

    medium celery stalks, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 4 cups), plus celery leaves (optional), to serve

  • Kosher salt

Directions

  1. 01
    In a colander set over a bowl or sink, toss the sliced celery with ¼ teaspoon salt; let stand for about 10 minutes. Using your hands, squeeze the celery to remove excess moisture; set aside.
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