When you see ‘Beef in Oyster Sauce’ on a menu, it usually means beef slices in an oyster sauce gravy, which may be fine for some occasions, but this tongue-numbingly peppery yet sweet recipe really is the David Beckham of beef in oyster sauce. Using a wok really isn’t a craftless exercise of tossing a metal pan backwards and forwards – there is a fine art to controlling the temperature and knowing the right time to agitate the food in the pan, and this is the dish that first made me appreciate the intricacies involved. It is the dish that really puts my chefs to the test, as the ingredients have to be added in the right order, with each one being cooked at the correct temperature, just enough to release the fragrance but not enough to burn. If they cook this well, I know they can be trusted!
vegetable oil, for deep-frying, plus a drizzle
200g beef rump, thinly sliced
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
15g onion, cut into small chunks
5g peeled fresh root ginger, thinly sliced
2g dried red chilli
100g fresh large red chillies, cut into 1cm sections
small handful of Chinese chives
3g ground toasted
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
grating of preserved plum
(see Chef’s Tip)
sea beet leaves, to garnish
- Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer to 150°C.
- Season the beef with the salt, wine and soy sauce, then deep-fry, in batches, until it just changes colour. Remove the beef from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a hot wok, add the onion, ginger and dried chillies and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the beef, fresh chillies, Chinese chives, Sichuan pepper, sugar and oyster sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Finish the dish with a grating of preserved plum before serving immediately, garnished with sea beet leaves, if you like.
What are preserved plums? They are dried plums that are dusted with sugar, salt, liquorice powder and citric acid. Usually used either as a snack or to infuse drinks with their unique sweet-and-sour fruitiness, they are available from good Chinese supermarkets.
A. Wong The Cookbook by Andrew Wong is available here.