Crispy Orange Beef
(recipe, Michael Tong)
The original Sichuan recipe for this dish was for a cold, somewhat chewy appetizer of fried, dried, and shredded beef. It is a far cry from Shun Lee’s Crispy Orange Beef, which was introduced in 1971, and which millions of Americans have since come to love.
- 8 oz. flank steak, cut into pieces 1 inch long, ½ inch wide, and ¼ inch thick
- 1½ tsp. baking soda
- 1 orange
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- Vegetable oil, for passing through
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 3 scallions, white part only, trimmed and sliced diagonally into ½-inch pieces (½ cup total)
- 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
- ¼ tsp. hot chile paste
- Mix the flank steak, baking soda, and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. (The baking soda will tenderize the steak.)
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove the colored zest from the orange. Cut the zest into thin strips about 1 inch long, and set them aside. Save the orange flesh for another use.
- To begin the sauce, mix the sugar, vinegar, rice wine, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- Heat a large wok over high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to come about 1½ inches up the sides of the wok, and heat it to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, add the cornstarch and egg white to the steak, and mix well to coat the steak with the batter.
- Add the flank steak to the oil, one piece at a time so it doesn't splash or stick together, and stir gently until it begins to look crispy, about 1 minute. Using a wide-mesh wire strainer, transfer the steak to a colander to drain. Using a fine-mesh wire strainer, remove any bits of fried batter from the wok.
- Reheat the oil to 375 degrees, return the flank steak to the wok, and fry again until the beef is crispy all over, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a strainer to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok.
- Return the wok with the oil to high heat. Add the scallions, flank steak, sugar-vinegar mixture, orange zest, sesame oil, Grand Marnier, and hot chile paste. Stir-fry until all of the ingredients are well blended, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.