Monday, October 29, 2007

Stirfried Salted Mustard Greens With Beef (Xiencai Nurou)


This is a dish you find at home but never in restaurants. Tell you a Chinese cuisine best-kept secret: many delicious Chinese dishes are never served in restaurants and only those who grew up eating them will know how good they are. I'm talking about 'home food,' jia changcai.

As a kid, whenever I got back from school and found that my mom was going to cook this dish for dinner, I'd be very happy. Another dish she cooked well was steamed beef mince with waterchestnuts. Very Cantonese. When I got married, I ate xiencai nurou often at my MIL's. Made me very happy also. Her version was more elegant (Shanghai ngin, you know), with more oil and no gravy, and slivers of chili and chinese celery for color which my mom didn't bother with. I like both versions but this is my MIL's version I'm giving here.

Xiencai Nurou
300g tenderloin or sirloin beef, cut into thin slices of ~ 3cm x 5 cm
--marinade with 1 T each of shaoxin wine, light soy sauce and cornflour
--also add 1/2 T fine sugar and a few dashes of black pepper
--leave 1 hour in fridge
300g (or more, if like) xiencai/humchoy, cut fine (1 cm lengths)
1 red mild chili, cut into fine strips
1 T fine ginger strips
1 T Chinese celery, cut into 1 cm lengths (optional)
2 t fine sugar
1 T oyster sauce
6 T veg oil

1. Soak the xiencai if too salty, wash a couple of times if not. Squeeze all water out.

2. In a wok, dry-fry the xiencai and ginger under medium heat without oil until all water is gone. This will take about 8 minutes. Add sugar and fry for another minute. Remove, wash the wok.

3. Put 6 T (or more, if you dare) oil in the wok, when it smokes, put the beef in and spread it on the wok in a single layer. When the edges start to cook, turn beef over, cook a couple of seconds and stir quickly. This is the right way to cook beef so that it remains tender, according to my friend Su who learnt it from her father. Remove beef when 3/4 done, leaving the oil in the wok.

4. In the wok (use very high heat) where you just fried the beef, fry the chili and celery for a second, then add the xiencai, beef and the 1 T oyster sauce, fry quickly mixing well the beef and xiencai and dish up.

Note: You can cook this dish with less oil and add cornflour solution (1 T: 5 T water) to thicken. This will give more sauce; my mom's method.

To make your own xiencai/humchoy, go to my previous post. I would advise that you not buy the xiencai from China, which has yellow coloring. The xiencai from our markets are free from coloring but remember they usually use leftover unsold veg and worse, they pickle them in plastic tubs and pails. All acidic food should be kept in glass containers which are non-reactive.


Precious Pea said...

Am a big fan of xiencai, love it with rice and even better with white porridge. I usually stir-fry mine with minced pork, but will try your recipe soon.

Denise said...

Aiyooh... this is too good! badly my hse never cook beef ! but I love eating beef la.... how la...
DO u know ,that day you post ur mustard green , so ngam my mum got some marinated mustard greens from an aunty also! I bet the aunt Must not be U! hahahah =p~

* Read my 2 reply to U on my blog*

Greg Wee said...

NEE: I started my xien cai over weekend. if it turns out well, this one is a must try together with xien cai duck soup with samboi.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pp:yes do try xiencai beef n tell me how it turned out. btw, thanx for adding me to ur list; u're on mine too :)

denise: no it wasn't u going to Melb too?

gregwee: yes, i am excited about my chowcai too. what shd i put in the soup besides the chowcai n thick meefun?

Mandy said...

greetings from a sabahan in US! I love my mum's xiencai which is prepared with pork tenderloin. But your mil and your version sounds so much more delicious. I shall try it one day!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

mandy: hi, welcome!long way frm home aren't u? been to ur blog, u have very beautiful pics (what camera are u using??) n recipes. yes, do try xiencai(make ur own) nurou n tell me how it turned out.keep in touch :)

tim said...

NO real American will spell "mum"
but only mom,

mum = mummy,dead walking egyptian

mum = flower

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