Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(Belated Again) Chinese New Years Meal #6: Sichuanese "Send-the-Rice-Down" Chopped Celery with Ground Beef (Jia Chang Rou Mo Qin Cai)

Some recipes are far more trouble than they are worth.  We have made more than our fair share of dishes that take hours and involve dirtying up every single pot and pan in the kitchen, but turn out to be just ok in the end.  Other recipes are so simple and come together so quickly that you can't imagine that they will be that good in the end.  And then they end up blowing you away. Those recipes are few and far between, but this dish happens to be one of them.  There are less than 7 ingredients total in the entire dish, but there is so much flavor.  The broad bean paste gives the dish heat, but what I really enjoyed is the combination of ground beef and Chinese celery.  The meaty, rich flavor of the ground beef is a really good counterpoint to the grassy, distinctly herbal flavor (and crisp texture) of the Chinese celery.  I don't know how substituting regular celery for the Chinese celery would affect the dish, but I would definitely be willing to give it a shot.  I think if you use regular celery the recipe says that you need to peel the little celery strings off, which seems a little finnicky and irritating, but such is life.  If the flavor of the final dish is a rough approximation of the flavor of the Chinese celery in this dish, I would make it again and again.

Recipe after the jump!

Sichuanese "Send-the-Rice-Down" Chopped Celery with Ground Beef (Jia Chang Rou Mo Qin Cai)
Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking
By Fuchsia Dunlop

11 oz. Chinese celery
3 tbsp canola oil
4 oz ground beef
1 1/2 tbsp broad bean paste
1 1/2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp light soy sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp Chinkiang vinegar

Cut celery lengthways into 3/8-inch (1 cm) strips.  Finely chop the strips.  Bring water to a boil and blanch the celery for about 30 seconds.  Drain well.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat.  Add ground beef and stir-fry until cooked and fragrant, pressing it with the back of your wok scoop to sear and separate the beef.  Add the chili bean paste and continue to stir-fry until fragrant and the oil has reddened.  Add the ginger and stir-fry for a few moments until fragrant, then add Chinese celery.

Continue to stir-fr until the celery is piping hot, seasoning with soy sauce.  Stir in vinegar and serve with rice.

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