Friday, August 25, 2006

Orange Beef Stir-Fry

[Note: if you're just interested in the recipe, skip down a several paragraphs. This one's got quite the preamble.]

Here's a dirty little secret: I'm obsessed with P.F. Chang's Orange Peel Shrimp. Love, love, looove it. I love it so much that I can almost forget that:

The only P.F. Chang's around is attached to a mall (a hallmark of fine dining, to be sure),

That all the mixed drinks have cutsey names (even though I also really like "“The Poolside"),

That the cuisine is only vaguely Asian (I suspect two guys named Peter and Frank randomly pointed a finger at a name in a Chinatown phonebook), and

That the waitstaff have, on occasion, made me very uncomfortable.

Which happened the other day. I was shopping for linens at the Eastview mall, now a mere 15 minutes from my home. It was around 1 pm and I was hungry, so I knew where to go. Seated, I settled in with my copies of People and Us magazine (dining in a mall requires such reading fare) waiterhe waite came over.

"David" was very attentive. Attractive, but not overly so. And especially charming yet smarmy, in that I'm-a-20-year-old-guy-and-I-think-I've-got-the-world-by-the-balls-but-I'm-just-one-broken-date-with-a-Hooters-waitress-away-from-severe-depression sort of way.

Before I continue, I should note two things: 1) I was the only person in the restaurant eating alone (which I like to do on occasion), and 2) I happened to be wearing a low-cut shirt (although not as revealing as others I've seen).

David did not leave me alone. He kept coming back, making little jokes, bringing me more iced tea than necessary, making sure the fortune cookies were up to snuff; the whole nine yards. When he asked how I'd like the complementary side sauce -- mild, medium, or hot -- and I said "hot," he waggled his eyebrows. "Ahhh," he said, "haaahhhhhht."

Now here's the thing: I couldn't figure out if he was acting this way because he thought a) he'd get a better tip, b) I was looking to be ogled, or c) it was sad I was eating alone. If I knew the specific reason, I could have chosen a particular response. But as it stood, I just smiled vaguely, laughed politely at a few jokes, and tried to put my magazine in front of my face.

It was enough to put me off my meal - the damned shrimp didn't taste as good.

So I got home and thought, "How hard can it be to make this?"

Well, kind of hard. The recipe itself isn't difficult, but nailing the flavor is. I substituted organic beef (I missed you, cow) for a little variety and combined a couple of Martha recipes to form the one below. It's not a bad recipe, it's just not a replica of P.F. Chang's orange peel sauce.

It has a nice, fresh quality. You know, unlike the P.F. Chang version.

Orange Beef Stir-fry
1 cup brown rice
3 oranges
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds trimmed boneless sirloin or rib eye, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 cup water
Palmful chopped scallions, green parts only
Red pepper flakes

Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside. Into a small bowl, finely grate zest and squeeze juice from 1 orange. Add garlic. vinegar and soy sauce; set aside. In a medium bowl, toss beef with cornstarch; season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, combine broccoli with water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high; cook, partially covered, until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Discard any water in skillet; wipe with paper towel.

In same skillet, heat oil over high. When pan is very hot, add half the beef; cook until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to a separate plate. Repeat with remaining oil and remaining beef, but leave beef in skillet.

Return reserved beef to skillet, add orange-juice mixture and continue cooking over high heat until sauce thickens, 2 to 4 minutes.

Place rice on a serving platter and top with broccoli. Spoon beef and orange mixture on top, sprinkling with scallions and red pepper flakes. Serves 4.

Grade: B+


Acme Instant Food said...

1. Welcome back to the beautiful world of cows. We missed you.

2. Maybe David was just happy his Clearasil was working that day -- sometimes that's all it takes to push a 20 year-old into the Prozac zone.

Ellie said...

Eww, the smarmies. One of the worst traits your waitstaff can display...

As for P.F. Chang's shrimp sauce, you could always get friendly with the chefs there? But then again, your version sounds delish, and now you've got *a* recipe for this up your sleeve, who needs Chang's and their 'friendly' waiters?

Lis said...

As much as I wanted to help you find the recipe, I almost didn't do the search as I think your recipe would be way better. Seriously. But, I do know about sometimes being addicted to a certain chain's dish (it was The Cheesecake Factory's Asian Orange Chicken for me) so I went to Top Secret Recipes and I found the recipe clone for P.F. Chang's Orange Peel Chicken - unfortunately they've put a lock on it and if you want to see it it'll cost you .79 cents. Fakkers. But, if you are dyin' to know.. here's the link =)
P.F. Chang's Orange Peel Chicken

Laura Rebecca said...

Lis, you are AWESOME. Brilliant!

I did not pay the $.79 -- cheap bastard that I am -- but figured someone else did and published it.

Check it:

P. F. Chang's Orange Peel Chicken

My favorite restaurant is P.F. Chang's and this is my favorite dish! If you like spicy dishes then you'll love this one!
by Galley Wench
4 servings
time to make 45 min 30 min prep

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 chicken breast fillets
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 orange (peel from 1/4 orange, julienned into 1/8-inch thick strips)
1 cup sugar snap peas

1. Prepare sauce by heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sliced green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili garlic sauce and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn off the heat.

2. Prepare the chicken by heating 1/2 cup oil in a wok over medium heat. Slice chicken breast fillets into bite-size pieces. Combine beaten egg with milk in a medium bowl. Pour the flour into another medium bowl.

3. Coat chicken pieces by dropping them into the flour a few at a time, then into the egg/milk mixture and back into the flour. Arrange coated chicken on a plate until all chicken is coated.

4. When oil in the wok is hot, add about half of the chicken to the oil and cook for a couple minutes or until brown on one side, then flip the chicken over. When chicken is golden brown, remove the pieces to a rack or paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining chicken. When all of the chicken is cooked rinse the oil out of the wok with water and place it back on the stove to heat up.

5. When wok is hot again add julienned orange peel and chicken. Heat for 20 to 30 seconds or so, stirring gently. Add sugar peas and sauce to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir dish a couple times but do it gently so you don't knock the coating off the chicken. Cook until the sauce thickens then serve up the dish with white or brown rice on the side.

Lis said...

hehehee excellent! I'm glad you found it and didn't have to pay! I look forward to your review of the new recipe =)