Stir-fried “Beef” with Broccoli

Once again, as with the minced squab dish on page 293, seasoned bean curd is standing in for meat, this time beef. Many of these vegetarian versions of familiar dishes that use bean curd, both fresh and preserved, are found in the kitchens of the Taoist monastery of Ching Chung Koon, in Hong Kong’s New Territories. It is where I first observed them being prepared, and later cooked them.


2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 1/4 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Pinch of white pepper

1/2 cup Vegetable Stock

3 heads broccoli, 1 pound each

2 quarts water

1/2-inch-thick slice ginger, peeled and lightly smashed

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda (optional)

3 tablespoons peanut oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 seasoned bean curd cakes (8 ounces), cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and reserve.

2. To water-blanch the broccoli, first trim the broccoli heads into florets. You should have about 1 pound florets. In a pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the ginger, salt, and baking soda (if using). When the water returns to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for 10 seconds, then turn off the heat. The broccoli will turn bright green immediately on being immersed in the water. The extra seconds will tenderize the florets. Run cold water into the pot, then drain off the water. Run cold water into the pot again, then drain the broccoli in a strainer over a bowl and reserve. Discard the ginger.

3. Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the peanut oil and, using a spatula, coat the wok with the oil. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the garlic and stir briefly until the garlic turns light brown. Add the bean curd slices and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until thoroughly mixed with the garlic. Turn off the heat, transfer to a small dish, and reserve.

4. Turn on the heat to high under the wok. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil, the salt, and ginger and stir for 45 seconds, or until very hot. Add the reserved broccoli and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is well coated with the ginger and oil. Add the reserved bean curd and stir-fry for 1 1/2 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are well mixed and very hot. Make a well in the center of the mixture, stir the sauce, and pour it into the well. Stir and mix for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and bubbles.

5. Turn off the heat, transfer to a heated plate, and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings