Restaurant Style Tempura Battered Beef Strips
It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I feel that writing this now, I’m doing more of a confession than a really good recipe. But I write the rules here so this time it’s going to be both. As many of you may not know (nor care very much for), I’ve recently relocated to go to law school in the beautiful city of Winnipeg, which means I’ve left my kitchen and all my fancy appliances behind to live out a childhood fantasy of becoming Perry Mason.
Yes, that’s how much I liked Perry freaking Mason.
So I’ve traded all that in for what appears to be a hallway that just decided to become a kitchen over night. I kid you not, my kitchen is longer than it is wide and I’m not the biggest fan of it. Worst of all, I can’t take half-decent pictures of the half-decent food I make, which if you’re any good at math means that anything you see on this blog will now be ¼ as good as it is in real life.
With the facts out of the way, here’s my confession: just because I haven’t posted doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking, or writing for that matter. In fact I have half a dozen posts on the back-burner, none of which contain the usual edge these posts are supposed to have, so I simply haven’t posted them. What makes it even more bitter is that since they all had to do with kick-ass holidays like Thanksgiving, I’m now too late to the party, too.
But I don’t like to dwell on the past, because as far as food is concerned you always end up expelling it after. In case you didn’t get it, that was a poop joke.
This unfortunate segue leads me to tonight’s recipe that I came up with all on my own, right after sitting at the Chef’s special table at Bin941 taking detailed notes on how to replicate their dishes. As you can tell I’m not going to make it far as an Intellectual Properties lawyer.
Before leaving for Winnipeg, Sumedha and I decided that eating at home is for chumps and that we should jump-start the economy all on our own by eating out as much as we possibly could. While Sumedha was busy enjoying her meals, I took this opportunity to educate myself about what makes restaurant food – well – restaurant food.
After the third or fourth night out it jumped right out of the plate and hit me in the face: restaurant food is amazing because no sane person would go out of their way to buy so many fresh ingredients for one single meal – especially if they’re living a bachelor lifestyle. I would even argue that getting the amount of ingredients required for a restaurant style dish would not make sense for couples either.
Anyways, I’m no sane person and when I was bored out of my mind in Winnipeg, I went out and got myself all the ingredients required to open a restaurant, even the shitty useless ones like cilantro and parsley. So watch below as I take amazing ingredients and do them no justice with neither lighting nor photography to create an incredibly delicious meal.
The dish consists of 3 separate elements: tempura batter, beef strips generally used for stir-fry, and greens. I could specify what greens I used, but if the picture below doesn’t ring a bell for you, you shouldn’t be attempting this recipe anyway.
The easiest thing to make is the tempura batter, as it only consists of:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup ice-cold water
- 1 egg
- Spices to your liking (I used Cajun to add color and a bit of minced garlic for aroma)
Literally dump all those things together and whisk your little heart out. When done, set that aside and get working on the beef.
The beef strips are simple, but they require a bit of a trick that I clearly forgot to follow myself: dry the strips first, then dump them in flour. That way you get the batter to stick better to the beef.
Last but not least, you’ll want to attend to all the greens that I got lined up. Because I’m a generous person, I’ll break down why I used what I did in hopes of you emulating it:
Spinach – it doesn’t matter whether you loved it or hated it as a kid; this stuff tastes great panfried and it adds much needed colour to otherwise monotonous dishes. Overcook it and you done messed up.
Cherry tomatoes – again, if it wasn’t for the colour, it wouldn’t be in this dish at all. But cooked properly and paired with the spinach, you can actually create something really tasty, especially when sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
Carrots – if you haven’t picked up on the trend yet, carrots were mainly added for their colour, because your eyes eat just as much as your mouth. If you didn’t get that, then I just served it to you on a platter. Aside from colour, the crunchier (and slightly harder) texture complements your soft tomatoes and spinach to even out the plate.
Parsley and other crappy greens – they don’t taste particularly good, but everyone’s doing it in their dishes, so what the hell. I guess it makes it look nice or something.
With the lesson on cooking aesthetics over, lets get back to the dish.
As you may have guessed, we’re going to deep fry the beef after we put it in the batter like you would with traditional tempura. The trick here is that if you want, you can undercook the beef a little bit to suit your taste – just don’t expect it to be steak like because generally stir-fry cuts are a little tougher. As always, preheat the oil for a while unless you’re crazy and stupid.
Whenever the colour of the batter is to your liking, you can simply remove it from the oil and let it dry on a paper towel.
You can make anything taste good with just the right amount of tempura batter. Anything.
For the greens, heat up a little bit of oil in a pan and add your greens to it at your leisure. I cooked them all in one pan at the same time and it worked out just fine. Now would also be a prime time to add salt and pepper.
With that out of the way, it’s time to release your inner artist and start plating your dish. Unlike home-style foods, restaurant style requires you to place ingredients separate from each other in a fancy, overlapping matter.
Finish off by splashing balsamic vinegar over your beef and greens. You’ll thank me later.
Considering this dish contained absolutely no bacon and had more greens in it than I’m comfortable admitting – it tasted really damn good. Yes, the batter didn’t stick to my beef properly but you’re none the wiser with the crappy pictures I took so it’s okay.
More importantly the carrots, tomatoes and the spinach added a depth to the dish that I could literally write pages of bullshit about, but to make it easier I’ll just admit that they tasted great without much work. And all those shitty greens that I added because everyone else does? I’ll admit that I was wrong about them because they gave the beef a distinct flavour no spice would have provided.
So will I make this dish again? You bet your ass I will – I have a restaurant’s worth of fresh ingredients and not enough time to eat them before they expire. As a matter of fact its not a question about will I make this again, its how many more of it can I make before a) I get sick of it and b) the greens rot and make me sick.
On that pleasant piece of news, stay tuned because I’ll be posting more frequently hopefully, and maybe even getting some of my other recipe’s posted. Rumor has it that Sumedha will finally release a healthy recipe as well, so stay tuned!