Sichuan Spicy Beef and Tofu
This is what I think is the best Sichuan beef recipe. Just imagine the most tender meat slices served on top of the silkiest tofu and packed with pungent flavors and beautiful aromas. In this video, I will talk about the original velveting method to tenderize the meat. Once you learn, you can make that soft and succulent beef.
- 300 grams of beef, sliced thinly
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of ground white pepper
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1.5 tbsp of potato starch
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 tbsp of minced ginger
- 2 tbsp of minced garlic
- 3 tbsp of diced scallions
- 2.5 tbsp of Sichuan Dou ban jiang
- 8-10 dried red chilies
- 1 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder (suggest using 1 tsp if you have never tried this ingredient before)
- 1/2 tsp of five-spice powder
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch
- 1 package of silken tofu
- 1 tbsp of minced garlic
- 1 tbsp of diced scallions
- 1 tbsp of diced cilantro
- 2-3 tbsp of hot oil
- Reserved Sichuan pepper and red chili powder
To Marinade the Beef
To Make the Spicy Soup
Slice the beef into 1/8 of an inch thick slices. I recommend using the New York strip, flank steak, or sirloin cap.
- Marinade the beef with salt, some ground white pepper powder to taste, and one egg white and mix for a few minutes or until the egg white is absorbed. Why use egg white instead of yolk? Egg white is one of the few foods that is naturally alkaline (PH 7.6-9.2), which can raise the pH level of the meat, break down the tough grains, and tenderize the beef. Egg yolk, on the other hand, has a lower pH value, around 6, so it doesn’t do the same job. You can save the egg yolk to make my general Tso’s chicken.
- Mix 1/4 cup of water with 1.5 tbsp of potato starch until no lumps. Pour it into the beef in batches and mix until the starch water is absorbed. The starch and egg white will create a soft layer that will wrap around the meat and retain the moisture. This layer has a velvet texture; that’s why the marinade is called velveting.
- Once all the starch water is absorbed, I like to add a little bit of dark soy sauce to give the beef a desired brown color. Set it aside.
- Pre-boil a pot of water and steam the tofu over high heat for 10 minutes. This recipe requires silken tofu. If you don’t have it, soft tofu will be the second-best option.
- Once done, take the tofu out and use a spoon to scoop the tofu into a serving plate. The purpose is to create more surface area, which allows the seasonings to infuse deeper.
- Continue to use this pot of water to poach the beef. Turn the heat to the lowest and make sure the water bubbling activity is subtle. Add the beef slices one by one and wait for a couple of minutes or until the meat floats to the top of the water. That is a sign that tells you you did a good job velveting the meat. If you didn’t mix the meat with the marinade long enough, it won’t float.
- Take the beef out and set it aside.
- Toast the Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chilies in a wok over low heat for a couple of minutes. Then, grind them finely with a blender and set it aside. Although I am using 1 tbsp of Sichuan peppercorns, you should use less, such as 1 tsp, if you have never cooked with this ingredient before; Sichuan peppercorns can be overpowering and ruin the dish.
- To the same wok, add oil, minced ginger, garlic, diced scallions, and Sichuan Dou ban jiang, and stir over medium-low heat for a few minutes or until everything becomes bright red.
- Continue by adding five-spice powder, sugar, 2/3 of the Sichuan peppercorn, and chili powder. Reserve 1/3 to sprinkle at the end.
- Keep stirring for a minute or 2. Quickly mix 1 cup of water with 1/2 tbsp of cornstarch. You can use beef stock if you have some.
- Pour the starch water into the wok. Bring it to a simmer and stir until the soup is slightly thickened.
- Introduce the beef into the wok and let it simmer for one 1 minute. Taste to adjust the flavor. It should be a lot saltier compared to your normal taste because the tofu doesn’t have that much flavor.
- Pour the beef onto the tofu and sprinkle the reserved Sichuan peppercorn chili powder, minced garlic, diced scallions, and cilantro. Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil to smoking hot and pour it on top of the aromatics to activate all the aroma.
- Serve with white rice.