Meat popcorn

Better than French fries?

Yup.

Better than beer-battered onion rings?

Uh huh.

Better than fresh, hot, homemade hushpuppies?

You know it, dude.

It sounds crazy, and hard to believe, but last night I made something that took no time at all, and was crispy, salty, a little fatty, and completely, unrepentantly addictive.

It was deep fried steak.

I know, what the what?  But hear me out. The beef was flap meat.  It comes from a bottom sirloin butt cut.  It’s very, very thin.  Normally you sear or grill it in literally seconds; then slice it against the grain.  It’s delicious, and can be eaten as is or used for sandwiches, tacos, fajitas or salads.

The beef was flap meat.  It comes from a bottom sirloin butt cut.  It’s very, very thin.  Normally you sear or grill it in literally seconds; then slice it against the grain.  It’s delicious, and can be eaten as is or used for sandwiches, tacos, fajitas or salads.

Not much to look at in this state; but what a personality.

I’ve written about it before.  It’s an unsung carnivore’s hero, and the Matthews family could eat it every night (or breakfast) of the week.

I decided to use it in Asian-style rice noodles and vegetables.  But I’d never made authentic Chinese food from scratch.  This would be a complete first.

Fortunately, The Kid practically minored in Asian at culinary school, so I had a very handy resource.

At Whole Foods, I picked up rice noodles (I used half a 12 ounce box), broccoli (one large crown), shitake mushrooms (about four ounces), a small piece of ginger, and went home to experiment.

rice noodles

As tasty as the flap steak is, it’s better when grilling or cooking the meat in a skillet that it is cooked no more than medium-rare.

But stir-fry cooking, which is how I planned to do the meal, is not really conducive to crusty, well-seared, medium-rare beef.  So cooking it, keeping it separate from the rest of the dish, and plating it on top of the noodles, almost like a garnish, was the plan.

Since the meal was Asian-inspired, I decided to try a technique that was new to me.  I sliced the meat into thin strips.  I didn’t pre-season it because there was soy in the sauce, which is quite salty.I took a small, straight-sided skillet and poured in about 1 ½ inches of vegetable oil.  I turned on the burner to get it up to 350 degrees.

While it was heating, I put ½ cup or so of cornstarch on top of the meat (about 1 pound), covered the bowl, and shook it vigorously to coat all the meat evenly.  You want to do this right before cooking, so that it doesn’t absorb too much cornstarch, which will make it gummy.

I took a small, straight-sided skillet and poured in about 1 ½ inches of vegetable oil.  I turned on the burner to get it up to 350 degrees.  While it was heating, I put ½ cup or so of cornstarch on top of the meat (about 1 pound), covered the bowl, and shook it vigorously to coat all the meat evenly.  You want to do this right before cooking, so that it doesn’t absorb too much cornstarch, which will make it gummy.

When the oil came up to temp, I dropped in one third of the meat and gave it a very gentle stir.  In 20-30 seconds, I removed it with a slotted spoon onto a paper-towel covered plate.  At this point, I gave it a little sprinkle of kosher salt, like you would French fries.

This stuff was amazing.  It was crispy on the outside, tender inside, and supernaturally amazing.  I could truly eat this stuff by the handful.  But I set it aside and finished dinner.

When stir frying, everything must be ready to go when you start cooking.  Once it starts, it moves very fast, and you must be prepared.  The rice noodles get pre-cooked, the broccoli blanched, and all the veggies need to be prepped.  My aromatics were three cloves of garlic, ½ teaspoon grated ginger and one large shallot, diced.

I turned on my Dutch oven medium-high, and added about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Then I put in the aromatics and cooked them, stirring constantly.  When they were hot and fragrant, I added the mushrooms and cooked them until they were softened.  The broccoli came next and cooked until hot, and finally the noodles.  I then poured in my sauce.

Stir fry sauce

stir fry sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoon rice wine or red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sherry

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

I tossed, and when everything was well coated, I plated, adding the flap steak on top.

It turned out really well.  As usual, I made too much for just Petey and me, so we have leftovers.  But they are vegetarian, ‘cause that meat is profoundly gone.

Thanks for your time.

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