When I lived in New York for several years during graduate school and my first job after that, I ate a version of this dish at LEAST twice a week. I used to order it from a small Chinese restaurant around the corner from my apartment with an extra order of rice for about $4.95. I used to call the restaurant and as soon as they recognized my voice, they put in the order without my even asking and some 8-10 minutes later, the delivery guy was at the door of my apartment. So needless to say, I have a soft spot for the dish, and have it EVERY time I return to New York. Turns out, it isn’t quite authentic szechuan cooking at all, and is a stylized version for American palates. I don’t care, it tastes great.
Every once in a while, I get a hankering for this dish and make my own version at home. Here’s how I do it. I have tried several cuts of meat, but have had the BEST results with some sirloin steak tips from S&R. I think Bacchus is the supplier and it’s made up of odds and ends from sirloin steaks. I cut them into thinner julienne type pieces, roughly 1/4 of an inch or less thick. Use any good beef instead if you can find the sirloin tips. I then marinate this in a touch of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, a bit of cornstarch and pepper flakes for about 30 minutes. Next I prepare julienned celery and carrots (lots of them)and soak them in ice water to crisp them up (then drain and dry before using) and get the other ingredients ready. Slice one small white onion into thin strips. Have garlic chili sauce, chili flakes,
poison hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar at the ready. I put some red bell pepper in the batch above, but it’s better without. Fire up a large wok over high heat, add some canola oil and when it is smoking hot add the beef in batches and flash fry them for about a minute or two. Work in batches so they don’t steam. Then set aside. Basically, you will double cook the beef. When all the beef is done, heat up a bit more oil in the same wok and when smoking, add the onions, carrots and celery and toss vigorously until softened a bit, say 1-2 minutes. Add back the beef, hoisin, soy, chili garlic and other ingredients to taste and stir to combine well. Serve hot with lots of steamed rice. Brings back lots of good memories. :)