Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Stir-fried Leeks with Beef and Beancurd

It's Chinese New Year! Back home, my family's probably having a feast with lots of abalone and sea cucumber and roast duck ): The Chinese New Year fare is not only about the expensive or rare ingredients though, often it's the simple vegetables that shine. I love leeks, and as my mum happily informed me, that's going to bring me lots of wealth. Leeks are 蒜苗/大蒜, which sounds like “算” (suan) i.e. count i.e. you will have lots of money to count. You could do it minus the beancurd too, or with extra vegetables like carrots, but the golden beancurd represents happiness (white tofu not recommended..white=death.) We Chinese are weird.

Stir-fried Leeks with Beef and Beancurd
serves 2-3
200g beef flank 
1 medium leek, sliced into about 5cm long pieces
100g firm beancurd, chopped into medium pieces
1 red chilli, sliced thinly
2cm ginger, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp of groundnut oil (or you can use lard/unrefined palm/coconut oil)

For marinade 
1/2 tbsp tapioca/potato/cornstarch
1/2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp good (naturally aged) soy sauce
pinch of five-spice powder
few drop sesame oil

For sauce
4 tbsp of homemade stock
1 tbsp good (naturally aged) soy sauce
1 tsp of Chinese rice wine (shaoxing/huadiao)
1 tsp Chinese black vinegar
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
pinch of sugar
1tsp of tapioca/potato/cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water (to thicken)

1. Slice the beef thinly against the grain. Mix well with the marinade and then leave it aside for 30 min.
2. Meanwhile, you can prep your ingredients, wash the dirt off the leeks and chop everything up. Also, mix the sauce ingredients except the cornstarch and water so later you can have a relaxing stir fry.
3. Over med-high heat, add half the oil and fry the firm beancurd for about 5 min till light brown and set aside.
4. Over high heat, add the rest of the oil and flash-fry the beef for 1 min, then remove from the pan (sorry no wok) and let drain and set aside.
5. Add the ginger and garlic to the hot oil, fry till fragrant. Add the leeks and chilli and cook till the leeks soften.
6. Add the sauce, which should help deglaze the pan. Let it come to the boil, then reduce the heat.
7. Stir in the cornstarch slurry a little at a time till you get the consistency you want. Note: it will thicken after it cools, so don't go pouring everything at a go!
8. Add the beef and beancurd (finally all the ingredients are happily together!) and stirfry for 2 min or so, making sure everything's coated.
9. Serve over a steaming bowl of rice (:

The beef, prepared this way, is really tender, oozing with juices and flavour-- no need for expensive sirloin steak cuts (:


  1. waahh, yum.

    yes chinese new year would not be chinese new year without all the leeks. something new for me tho, i didnt realise the golden tofu symbolized happiness. Is it also like 'man di huang jing' - floor full of gold?

    Also, does your mom do the 7 veg dish on the 7th day of CNY, or is it the 15th... i can't remember... it's almost like chap cai but it's not.. I'm not sure if it's a teochew thing, i think my mama calls it qik ngeoh cai (literally 7 veg?) i must go ask my mom.

    mm, another comfort CNY food I cannot start the day without is having to go to my mama (mom's mommy's) place First thing in the morning after church, and have a few spoonfuls of her chap cai, and her 'candied yam' - which is actually just diced cooked yam, coated in sugar and fried in the wok. haha, yes my once a yearly CNY indulgences... must start the day with that otherwise it's not CNY... then after that can go to my gramma's place (dad's mommy). lol.

    BTW, HAPPY CNY TO U IN LONDON! hope the weather is treating u guys fairly well this week.

  2. Nice post! Actually, my mother is always cooking this food for my kids and they really liked it very much, because it's very tasty. Anyway, thanks for sharing your great recipe to us.

    Beef Stir Fry