I spend a lot of time trying new recipes. Creating new foods is one way that I bring variety to my life at home with young children. The reality is that day to day life with little kids (although I love taking care of my kiddos) is very repetitive and most household tasks are rather mundane. So, I use cooking as a creative outlet.
Even though I try a wide variety of recipes, it is relatively rare that as a family, we like one well enough to keep in our regular rotation. Easy Chinese Orange Beef is one of those regulars. My husband likes it a lot. (Which seems to be the primary factor in which meals hit the “in” list.) Other factors for qualification are that the recipe must be budget-friendly and fit well with items I regularly stock in the kitchen. Also, overly elaborate foods tend to never hit the table more than once, even if they taste good. Fancy cooking generally isn’t my forte.
The honest truth is, this recipe for Chinese orange beef should be made with a good steak, like flank steak or top sirloin, or whatever steak-experts consider yummy. (I’m not a steak expert.) If steak works in your budget, by all means make this recipe with steak and it will be fantastic! If you are like me, and quality steak would break your little beef-loving bank, then you might consider the way that I make this:
Buy a roast on sale. Try to get a decent, leaner type roast rather than a tough grisly one like chuck roast (or low quality cross-rib, ugh). I used a bottom round rump roast this time that I bought on sale for 2.99/lb. It’s not the most tender roast out there; sirloin tip or top round would be better options. But it wasn’t bad, either.
I cut it in half and froze the other half for later use. When you are ready to use your roast for Easy Chinese Orange Beef, you will want it to be slightly frozen. And you will want a big, serrated knife. This sets you up for success in the next step: slicing the roast very, very thinly across the grain and cutting into bite sized strips.
Mmm, poor man’s steak! I’ll be honest and tell you that using roast for a recipe like this is probably lends more chewy results than using a good steak. But we still think it’s pretty dang good.
This is what the Asian Chili Garlic sauce that I use for this recipe looks like:
It adds a little heat, but if you don’t like that, you could easily substitute a milder Asian chili sauce; there are many varieties available. Also, if you are wondering what else you could possibly use dark brown sugar for, try this recipe for Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts.
When you cook the meat, you want your pan to be truly hot (but not so hot that the oil splatters everywhere). If it isn’t, your beef will boil in its own juices. You want the juices to be instantly seared in for tenderer meat. I often make the mistake of not heating my pan high enough due to a fear of hot oil. Ok, hot things in general, especially fire. Over-crowding the pan also contributes to tough, boiled meat, which is why the recipe directs you to cook the beef in two batches. Since the meat is so thin, this doesn’t take very long.
After you remove the beef from the pan, add the orange sauce and stir until it becomes thick and bubbly. Then return the beef to the pan and stir to coat. The end result is a dish of full, beefy flavor coated with a rich, slightly spicy orange sauce. I like to serve it with hot rice, steamed vegetables and a fresh fruit.
recipe slightly adapted from Our Best Bites
- 2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 TBS canola oil for pan
- 1-1/2 pounds steak or oven roast (see above directions if using oven roast), trimmed and sliced thinly across grain and lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper
- 3-4 green onions, sliced
- hot cooked rice
Whisk together orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch; set aside.
Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add oil when pan is hot and tilt to coat the bottom of the pan. The oil is the right temperature when it sizzles but doesn’t pop out of the pan in all directions.
Add half of the beef to the hot pan. Break up any clumps, then let it cook undisturbed for one minute. Then stir and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove the beef to a bowl and repeat with the remaining beef, adding more oil if needed.
After all of the beef has been cooked and removed from the pan, give the sauce a quick whisk and pour it into the skillet. Cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Return the meat to the pan and stir to coat. Garnish with green onions and serve with your favorite rice.