Culinary Experiments – Early November 2014 Edition

by the other theo

This happened at the house the other night.    I wrote previously about the abundance of basil I have growing on my back patio.  I decided to do something about it.

This particular batch of Thai Beef with Basil and Chiles was novel in a couple of respects.

First, I used hanger steak instead of the usual flank steak for the dish.   Our neighborhood market has a newly revamped meat department, heading more in the full service direction.   I was hopeful that they’d have flank steak, but they were out.  Instead, I spotted some unlabeled portions of meat and could tell from the central membrane that it was hanger steak.    I recalled reading somewhere that it makes great stir fry, so I though I would give it a try.

Second, I cooked this indoors on the stove.   I’ve done the bulk of my stir fry cooking in recent years on a propane burner that the manufacturer originally said produced 185,000 BTU when I purchased it but the web site now says 55,000 (which is still plenty powerful.)   I got the idea from an episode of Good Eats.    It generally works pretty well, but it has its down sides.   One is that it’s very easy to overcook the food, and I’ve learned that the key to stir frying is to slightly under cook the food and let carryover do the rest.   Another is more pertinent here:  it’s harder during the winter because it’s dark outside.   I’ve also read a number of articles (like this one) that suggest that lower heat stir frying can work just as well if you are willing to be careful and cook in batches.

It came out great, in general.  The steak turned out very tender, with better flavor and (in particular) mouth feel than what I’ve come to expect from flank steak.    The batch cooking also allowed me to flip the meat by moving the wok, creating some wok hei.   The only down side was that, well, I was cooking indoors.   Cooking chiles in hot oil indoors creates a lot of… aroma.   In this particular case, it was aroma that caused all our noses to run a bit until I was able to get the place aired out.