For literally years, Stacy has been asking me to recreate her favorite Chinese takeout dish: Sesame Beef. And for just as long I’ve been trying to crack the code. Until now! We finally have it figured it out, and even better – be assured this recipe is simple, fun and delicious. And other than the tamari, there are no unusual ingredients needed to get that take out flavor.
History of Sesame Beef and American Chinese Cuisine
I am a fan of culinary history, and the development of American Chinese cuisine is one of my favorite stories. If you go to China today, you won’t find much food familiar to your eyes, memory, or palate, especially if you go anywhere to the north or west. Your favorite takeout actually originated in San Francisco, the first place in this country to have a significant Chinese immigrant population, particularly from the Southern Guangdong province.
As the 1800s progressed, more and more immigrants moved to California to try to capitalize on the gold rush or the employment opportunities provided by railroad construction. One of the byproducts of this immigration was the establishment of Chinese restaurants to feed this community. But the ingredients available in California are not the same as in China, so adaptations began. Additionally, the immediacy of food needs meant that a lot of the more time intensive techniques stopped in favor of more expedient methods, like deep frying and stir frying.
Eventually these restaurants became popular with non-Chinese people as well. And due to strict immigration laws, restaurants employment became a common reason given for visa applications. Eventually American Chinese takeout became the favorite takeout food in America as a whole.
Sesame Beef Preparation
Sesame Beef as a dish is essentially a sweeter, not-spicy variation of similar dishes like General Tso’s Chicken or Ginger Beef. It uses both deep frying and stir frying to produce it’s flavor. If you’ve not ever deep fried, please see our tutorial post here for tips on frying. Use a thermometer and be careful!
We use hangar steak in these images, a fairly tender cut that is perfect for quick cooking. If that’s unavailable to you, sirloin steak will also do nicely. Any thinly sliced meat intended for stir frying will work well here, though. The less tender the cut, the more chewy the steak – so marinating, pounding, and smaller pieces will help.
While the broccoli here makes a nice compliment to our taste buds, other vegetables would do nicely as well, especially Chinese vegetables like bok choy or gai lan (Chinese broccoli).
- 2 lbs thinly sliced beef, hangar steak or sirloin preferred
- 2 C lard for frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 C cassava flour
- 1/2 C wheat-free tamari or coconut aminos
- 1/4 C honey
- 1/4 C rice wine vinegar
- Juice of one medium orange
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 TBSP fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp tapioca starch
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 C sesame seeds
- Heat lard over medium heat in a heavy bottom pot to 350 degrees.
- Pat meat dry with a towel and allow to come closer to room temp while waiting for the fat to heat up.
- Season beef slices by sprinkling salt and pepper, to taste (we use about 1/2 tablespoon), then toss in cassava, shake excess flour off, and fry until crispy in small batches for 4 minutes. Remove to a towel lined rack to drain.
- Combine tamari, honey, vinegar, orange juice, garlic, ginger, tapioca and sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a soft boil over medium high heat, then drop to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.
- Meanwhile, steam broccoli or vegetable and make sides of choice.
- In a wok or large frying pan over medium heat, toss beef in the sauce until hot, about five minutes.
- Garnish with veggies, green onions, and sesame seeds.
For AIP, leave out the vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seeds
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