At Bamboo Garden in Bel Air, Chef Chen Lin Chang draws inspiration from across Asia. In his crispy beef dish, he focuses on the cuisine of Thailand. Thai food is known for its intense flavors, liberal use of fresh vegetables and — sometimes — extreme heat. Though the dishes often taste complex, they can be fairly simple to replicate at home.
The key to this dish is in the sauce — a sweet, salty, tangy mixture with a spicy twist. The preparation is straightforward, and the recipe is customizable. It works with many different cuts of beef, and the vegetables included (and their quantities) can be adjusted by preference and season. Thai crispy beef is a great way to make use of whatever is growing in your summer garden.
Bamboo Garden’s Thai Crispy Beef
Makes 2 servings
1 pound beef (tender cuts are better, but any will work)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cooking wine
½ teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, plus more for cooking
2 teaspoons soy sauce
5 teaspoons sugar
5 teaspoons vinegar
½ teaspoon hot chili oil
1 teaspoon ketchup
2 ounces water
Handful of celery, sliced into thin strips
Handful of carrots, sliced into thin strips
Handful of scallions, sliced into thin strips
5 whole dried hot red peppers
1. Slice beef into five pieces, each about 2 inches thick.
2. Add beef to a bowl of cold water with 1 teaspoon baking soda. Refrigerate for 2½ to 3 hours.
3. Remove beef from water and dry with a paper towel.
4. Pound out each piece of beef with a meat pounder.
5. Combine 1 teaspoon cooking wine, ½ teaspoon salt, 5 teaspoons cornstarch and 3 teaspoons vegetable oil. Toss with the beef and let sit for about 5 minutes.
6. To fry the beef, fill the wok halfway with vegetable oil and heat to medium-high.
7. Gently place the beef into the oil, one piece at a time, until it turns a golden yellow color.
8. Remove beef and let it drain. Once it’s cooled, cut the beef into strips about 2 inches wide.
9. To combine all the ingredients, set a wok or wide pan over medium-high heat. Lightly cover the bottom with vegetable oil.
10. Add soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, hot chili oil, ketchup and 2 ounces of water to walk, then stir.
11. Add all vegetables and beef to the pan and cook for 30 seconds.
12. Remove, plate and serve.