Beef and broccoli is one of the most popular Chinese takeout and is really easy to make at home. Serve it with rice.
Broccoli Beef originates from a Chinese dish called Beef fried with Broccoli.
However, Chinese broccoli is very different than American broccoli so the dish had to be adapted.
Also, the sauce is much thinner than what you’d expect from American-Chinese beef and broccoli.
Chinese immigrants brought their native dish with them and then adapted it to use local ingredients and to suit the American pallet.
Why Steam the Broccoli
Many recipes before beef and broccoli call for blanching the broccoli.
However, this can cause the broccoli hold too much water and then water down the sauce.
I think that steaming the broccoli does pretty much the same thing blanching does without getting it too wet and leaves the sauce thick.
Can I Use Frozen Broccoli?
Yes. Frozen broccoli is fine to use.
Just make sure it’s not too wet from defrosting when you use it or you will have similar problems to blanching.
What is a Slurry?
A slurry is defined as “a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.”
A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of a cold liquid with cornstarch.
If you use hot liquid, the cornstarch will gelatinize with the liquid ruining it.
A cornstarch is used as a thickening agent, and particularly common in Asian sauces.
However, if you put it in as a powder it will clump up so it must be turned into a slurry first.
Why use it with the meat?
This technique is known as velveting.
The name comes from the fact that meats marinated with cornstarch have a velvety smooth texture on the outside.
The velveting also helps the meat retain moisture.
IS KOSHER MEAT BETTER?
Yes and no. It is not necessarily healthier as far as bacteria is concerned, since bacteria can only safely be killed with heat. What is better is the quality of the meat.
The salting process used to remove blood, as part of the koshering process, is believed to provide better quality meat. It creates a sort of quick dry brine.
Also, kosher animals are kept in better conditions than not kosher animals due to strict kosher heath requirements of the animals. They are also killed in arguably more humane conditions.
While I’ve only eaten kosher meat (so I cannot compare), I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher meat is of superior quality to cook with.
SHOULD YOU WASH MEAT?
According to the USDA you should not wash chicken or meat because washing it spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen.
Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, including onto counter tops, other food, towels and you (i.e. cross contamination).
A study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan. The heat from cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.
One exception would be if there are bone fragments or residue from giblets, as in a roasting chicken. In that case, feel free to rinse if you like. However, make sure you wipe down your sink afterwards.
HOW CAN I CLEAN MY MEAT WITHOUT WASHING IT?
If you want to clean your meat without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel. This will remove anything other than bacteria.
Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.
HOW TO DEFROST MEAT
IN THE FRIDGE
This method is the most highly recommended. Meat typically takes at least a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.
IN COLD WATER
This should take two to three hours. Submerge your sealed meat in a pot or bowl full of cold water. Change out the water every 30 minutes or so.
Do not use warm or hot water. It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your meat, and doesn’t do so evenly.
COOK IT FROZEN
According to the USDA, you can cook frozen meat. It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option. You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables so the heat can circulate around the meat.
IS IT SAFE TO REFREEZE RAW MEAT
If you have extra raw meat that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can as long as it was thawed in the fridge.
According to the USDA “food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.” However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat.
Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture through thawing which also leads to a loss in flavor. To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.”
The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”
HOW TO STORE
Once cooled, place in an air tight container and refrigerate. Store for 3 to 4 days.
HOW TO FREEZE
Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Place in an air tight container or resealable freezer bag.
Freeze for up to 6 months. After that it is safe to eat however the quality begins to degrade.