Tasked with the assignment of Canadian food with a twist, my first thoughts went to how to put a fusion spin on classic favourites like poutine or butter tarts or a Nanaimo bar… but I quickly realized that this dish was ready and waiting to be rediscovered… and so I pass this on to you today.
Though it is inspired by a (very dry, very ginger-y) Northern Chinese dish, ginger beef as we are familiar with it today was actually a Canadian creation. It is credited to a Chinese chef who had settled in Calgary, Alberta, making it there for the first time a few decades ago… and now it’s embraced across the country as a classic itself.
With its short (and fairy affordable) list of ingredients as well as the ability to be tweaked and personalized to every taste, ginger beef is a perfect meal, whether it’s for dinner or leftovers the next day. (In fact, the longer it sits in its sauce, the richer it becomes). Enjoy!
• 1 lb top sirloin or flank steak, cut against the grain into thin strips or “sticks”
• 1–1-1/4 cup corn starch
• 1/5–1/4 cup flour (cake or all purpose, not bread flour)
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 cup (approx.) water
• To taste cracked black pepper and a few dashes of chili oil
• Oil for frying
• 4–5 cloves garlic, minced
• 2–3 chunks ginger, peeled and cut into strips (or julienne)
• 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips (or julienne)
• 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips (or julienne)
• 1 medium onion, cut into strips
• 2 tbsp oil
• ½ cup dark soy sauce
• ½ cup water
• 1 tbsp shaoxing (or cooking wine of your choice)
• 1 tbsp vinegar, white or apple cider
• 1/4–1/2 cup sugar (to your taste, depending on how sweet you like it – you can also do a combo of brown and white sugars for a more caramelized note)
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• To taste chili peppers, crushed
1. Sauté the vegetables in the oil until lightly browned and crisp.
2. Add in the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. After 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the flavours to marry.
3. Whisk together the batter ingredients until thoroughly combined. Adjust (with water) how runny or thick you want the batter – and thus the crispy coating of your beef – to be.
4. Deep fry the beef in batches until golden brown and crisp.
5. Toss the beef in the sauce and serve immediately with white or fried rice (or noodles!). Alternatively, let the sauce permeate the beef for an hour or two on low heat, then serve.