Recently a friend called me with obvious panic in her voice. Since most of my friends know better than to call me for emergency babysitter needs, and they either have AAA, Emergency Roadside Service benefits or just the good sense not to call me to help change a flat tire, I was pretty confident that it was a cooking or food safety question that was causing the frenzy. If I had a nickel for every “OMG-our electricity has been out for 8 hours, can we eat the X??!!” I might not be writing this post…or you’d be hearing from me a LOT more often, depending on how boring retirement actually is.
“There is a quarter of a cow in my freezer and I don’t know what to do with it!” After pausing for what seemed like an eternity, and wrestling with several mental images of what a quarter of a cow in one’s freezer could possibly look like, I learned that at my client’s husband’s worksite, four people “went in on” the purchase of some beautiful, grass-fed, organic beef. The dilemma was that this somewhat low beef-consuming family had an entire garage freezer full of meat. All cuts of meat. “What am I going to do with this? I don’t know where to start. And so much for his (her husband’s) 2015 New Year’s resolution to eat better and lower his cholesterol.” “You can still eat well!” I told her. “It all depends on what you do with it, how much you eat in a day (or week) and what you eat with it.”
This lady is a savvy cook and doesn’t need me to tell her how to grill a filet. So I suggested that she start with sirloin. Thaw it, cut it into strips, marinate it, and toss it into a veggie-loaded stir fry. The marinade that follows doesn’t have to be reserved for beef only. It imparts a delicious citrusy/spicy flavor to chicken, fish and tofu as well. Keep in mind that fish and tofu which are more delicate by nature, require much shorter marinating times than beef.
One of my favorite “kitchen secrets” comes from my favorite Chef at my favorite place on Earth. Many years ago when I first started going to Canyon Ranch, Tucson, I met Chef Shawn Brisby, head chef, cooking instructor and overall fun-maker at the daily “Lunch and Learn” classes. He taught me that the easiest way to use ginger root in a recipe is to wash and grate it, skin and all, then simply gather the ginger up in your hand and squeeze out the juice.
You get all the ginger-flavor deliciousness with out having to peel it or try to chop those fine strands. You also don’t have the annoying little pieces of ginger floating around in your marinade which inevitably end up in the final product. Incidentally, Chef Shawn is FULL of great cooking/kitchen tips which you too can learn by joining my Canyon Ranch trip this October. Click here to learn the best/safest way to choose and cut an avocado from Chef Shawn, and click here to learn more about joining me at Canyon Ranch in October!
It’s important to remove the visible fat from the beef before cutting into strips. Sirloin tends to be one of the leanest cuts of beef, making it one of the healthier red meat options. It’s a great source of protein, iron, Vitamins B-6 and B-12 and all for less than 210 calories per 3 ounce serving.
The two keys to stir frying is using a HOT pan or wok and working in batches. If you’ve owned your electric wok for 25+ years (like my client had), it might be time to send it to wok heaven and invest in a new one. The reason? It probably doesn’t get hot enough, but test it to be sure. If you have a gas stove, you could use a wok pan. Use a high smoke point oil like grapeseed, safflower or canola. Heat the oil until it’s very hot, working quickly and in batches. Never dump all the meat or all the vegetables (or God forbid all the meat AND all the vegetables) in the pan at the same time. This will dramatically lower the cooking temperature in the pan and you will end up steaming, not stir-frying your ingredients. Ew. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of steamed meat.
- 1/2 cup Orange Juice (or the juice squeezed from 3 - 4 Naval oranges)
- 4 Tablespoons Low Sodium Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Vegetable or Olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon Dark Sesame Oil
- 2 Teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1-2 Teaspoons Tabasco sauce(I used Habanero which is even hotter)
- 1/4 cup Ginger juice* (see squeezed ginger method)
- 1-2 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
- 1.5 pounds Sirloin steak, visible fat removed, and cut into strips
- 2 Tablespoons "high smoke point" oil like grapeseed, safflower or canola oil
- 2-4 cups vegetables of choice, washed and cut into bite size pieces
- Mix first 9 ingredients (orange juice to salt) in a medium-large bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Pour marinade into a zip lock bag and add the beef strips. (You can also just marinate the beef in the same bowl)
- Seal the bag and refrigerate for one hour or up to 8 hours.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in wok or wok pan until very hot
- Starting with firmest vegetables, stir fry vegetables in 2 batches until crisp-tender, stirring frequently, 7-10 minutes (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and asparagus first, bell peppers next and zucchini and yellow squash last)
- When vegetables reach desired tenderness, remove from pan and set aside.
- Remove strips from bag and reserve marinade.
- Place marinade in a small sauce pan and heat on stove top, if extra "sauce" is desired.
- Add 1 Tablespoon oil to wok or pan, heat until very hot
- Stir-fry the meat strips in two batches until pieces are cooked through, 1-2 minutes for medium rare, 3 minutes for medium-well
- Either toss the vegetables back into the pan with the meat to heat through, or serve vegetables and meat separately.
Make your plate colorful (containing 50% vegetables), eat meat twice a week or less, and by all means, don’t panic. Reducing stress can also help lower your cholesterol – as can a trip to Canyon Ranch! 😉