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