I grew up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. One of the things I miss most about my homeland is the ethnicity and multiculturalism that abound therein. Downtown Victoria houses a small Chinatown. There are lions guarding the entrance and an ornate red gate. It’s a marvelous sensation when you walk down the normal city streets and turn to enter the vibrant and always crowded Chinatown.
Growing up, we would often head to Don Mee’s Dim Sum (Chinese Brunch) and sit there for hours as tiny dishes stacked on carts made the rounds of the restaurant. While the authentic Chinese meal involved things I would never touch in a million years (especially during my stunt as a vegetarian), it was a special time for my family. You have to wait for the carts to bring you what you want instead of ordering it. You have to wait. Waiting what felt like hours for the delicious honey buns, I learned to equate eating with a much greater purpose. Eating became a chance to spend time with those I love.
Sometimes here, cooking for my husband, who tends to devour his meal in 2 minutes flat, I forget the truths I learned on a small, living street in Chinatown. I forget that cooking and eating are about so much more than food.
While yesterday’s dinner, Szechwan Beef Stir-Fry, really isn’t something they serve at Don Mee’s, it still had an authentic and fresh air about it that superseded any of the Panda Express-like Chinese food that is easy to find in Orem. It took me back to that red and green and yellow street with dragons and small boutiques and street markets. It took me back to a place where food equals family and friends and important moments with them.
Szechwan Beef Stir-Fry (sorry, no pictures… but I assure you it’s both beautiful and delicious)
(adapted from Better Homes and Garden)
- 16 ounces sirloin steak cut into thin strips (cut along the bias for tender pieces)
- 1 large carrot
- 1 bell pepper (I like green)
- 1 can cut baby corn
For the sauce:
- 3 Tbsp orange juice
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 – 1/4 red pepper flakes
In a large skillet or a wok, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add pepper and corn. Cook another 1-2 minutes, or until the veggies are tender-crisp. Set aside. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Add beef to the skillet. Heat until it is mostly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce to the middle of the skillet and heat, stirring until the sauce thickens. When the meat is cooked through and the sauce is thick, add the veggies back to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes until all the flavours meld. Serve over steamed rice.