This Sichuan classic, like most Sichuan cuisine, is a true flavour bomb. Vibrant, fragrant and spicy - it never disappoints.
- 400g flank steak
- ⅓ teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 70ml water
- 3 teaspoons cornflour
For the mushrooms
- 150ml peanut oil
- 180g enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated
- 125g king brown or shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
For the sauce
- 40g ginger, thinly sliced
- 4 green shallots (white part only), cut into 1cm lengths
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns, roasted and crushed
- 80g Toban Djan (chilli bean sauce)
- 375ml bone broth (beef, pork, or chicken)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- ¼ cup chopped coriander
- 4 green shallots (green parts left over from the sauce prep)
- Sichaun peppercorn oil (optional)
- Sichuan peppercorns, freshly roasted and crushed (optional)
1. To prepare the meat
Cut the flank steak across the grain into 5/6mm slices and add to a bowl with the bi-carb soda and water. Toss together to fully coat all of the meat, set aside and marinate for 1 hour. Tip the beef into a sieve and rinse under running water to remove the bi-carb. Drain, wipe out the bowl and then return the beef to the bowl, along with the cornflour. Toss to coat and set aside.
2. For the mushrooms
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add 20ml of peanut oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add in the oyster or shitake mushrooms and fry for a minute before adding in the enoki. Fry for a further minute or two until the mushrooms have collapsed a little. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the base of a deep bowl (use the bowl you intend to serve the dish in).
3. For the sauce
Clean the wok, return to the stove over a medium heat and add 80ml of peanut oil. Add the ginger, shallots and Sichuan peppercorns. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant and then add in the Toban Djan. Reduce the heat slightly and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until the oil is a vibrant red (this is an important characteristic of this dish). As soon as the oil turns red, add in the broth and sugar.
4. To cook and serve
Increase the heat and, as soon as the sauce is boiling, add in the beef, stirring slowly to coat the beef pieces. Remove from the heat as soon as the beef is cooked to your liking (remembering that the beef will continue to cook in the heat of the sauce). Add the beef and sauce to the serving bowl then scatter the garlic and chilli flakes on top. Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan until hot, but not smoking, and pour over the beef making sure that the garlic sizzles on contact. Add a handful of chopped coriander and an extra punch of Sichuan oil and/or ground peppercorns as desired. Serve immediately with rice and sautéed greens.
- The bi-carb soda marinade tenderises the meat.
- Toban Djan (also known as Doubanjiang) is a fermented broad bean paste that is commonly used in Sichuan cooking.
- For those thrill seekers who love the numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns, serve extra Sichuan oil on the side.
As seen in autumn/winter 2023