So the other night I had a mega craving for a Chinese and was thinking about my old favourite dish which was crispy shredded chilli beef, I’m not too sure I want to eat that now I’ve learnt about what’s in it and how its made, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss that sweet and chilli taste, so I’ve turned it on its head and made a clean version.
Before I get into the recipe I want to explain a bit about MSG or to give it its full name Monosodium glutamate. This is the stuff that makes poor quality (take-away) Chinese food have that shiny look; it’s also found in almost all pre-packed processed foods. MSG is so much more than a flavour enhancer like salt and pepper. It actually changes the taste of the food it’s added to, it makes canned food taste less tinny, ready meals taste, smell and look better, it tenderises meat and my research shows that it’s even in some baby food! (I’m not a scientist; I’ve just spent hours researching MSG and its effects on our bodies in my quest to be knowledgeable about food and the food industry.)
So it’s clear why food giants use MSG in their food; it makes it look and taste better, which makes people want to buy it and makes them rich. I actually don’t even want to call this crap on a plate, or should that be crap in a plastic bowl, food. It’s chemical rubbish! Maybe I should let you know that this week I’ve been on one about the money making agenda of the food giants, so I won’t rant on, even though I secretly want to, I’ll just spill the facts.
Like sugar MSG has a whole host of names created by the food industry to trick us, some of them are: Autolyzed, Yeast Calcium, Caseinate, Gelatin, Glutamate, Glutamic Acid, Hydrolyzed Protein, Monopotassium Glutamate, Monosodium Glutamate, Sodium Caseinate, Textured Protein, Yeast Extract, Yeast Food and Yeast Nutrient.
I recognise a few of these; MSG is everywhere.
I’ve found out that some nutrition experts blame MSG for "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome." The headaches, dizziness, and sometimes even chest pains some people experience after eating in Chinese restaurants or having take outs. It’s not confirmed whether MSG is the reason for this or not, but thinking seems to lean towards MSG being to blame. I know that I am always tired after I eat a Chinese and ironically I never sleep well after eating a Chinese, I get twitchy legs. It would be interesting to know what your experience of it is. So write in and tell me!!
Right I’ll get cracking on the recipe now but before I do, a word from the world famous master of Chinese cooking Ken Hom: “The very best chefs, cooks and restaurants avoid MSG and rely instead, as they should, on the freshest and finest ingredients that need no enhancing."
For the stir-fry
- About 280g minute steak
- A small head of broccoli
- A bunch of spring onions
- Ginger about 4cm
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- A dried chilli (or chilli flakes)
- 3 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 lime - juice only
- 1.5 tbsp manuka honey
- Oil - preferably coconut
- Handful of cashew nuts (optional)
- Coriander (optional)
- Prep your veg: cut the broccoli into small florets, slice the garlic thinly with a knife, so it looks like the garlic slices you get in Chinese cooking, grate the ginger (I actually used ginger paste as I’d no fresh in)
- Make your dressing. Add the soy sauce, lime juice and honey together in a small bowl.
- Heat the oil in a wok, or heavy based pan, get it really hot and add the meat, which you will need to cut into thin strips first. I used 3 small minute steaks and fried them individually as you want the meat to cook and crisp so it’s best not to over crowd the pan. Then pop it in a bowl and put to one side
- Keep the pan hot and stir-fry the broccoli, ginger, chilli and garlic for 1-2 mins, if the pan is dry add a tablespoon of water. Then add the soy sauce mix, making sure the honey hasn’t sunk to the bottom, scrape it out – you’ll need it!
- Add the beef, cashew nuts and spring onion, stir-fry for a minute and then serve with chopped coriander sprinkled on top.
Egg Fried Wholegrain Rice:
I’m rubbish at guessing how much rice I should use per person, so I’ve devised my own measuring tool which works every time; it’s an espresso cup!
Use one cup of rice to 1 ¾ cups of water, cook it so it’s simmering in a pot with the lid on and lift the lid as little as possible. If it gets a bit dry then just add a small bit of water.
- 2 espresso cups of rice (or whatever you use)
- 2 eggs
- Splash light soy sauce
- Spring onion cut on a slant
If you can, cook the rice the day before. Just before it’s cooked take it off the heat run under the cold tap, to stop it cooking, and chill in the fridge. Now while this method works best because the rice dries and therefore fries better, it’s not essential. I wasn’t able to cook it the day before for this week’s recipe, so I just cooked it, ran it under the cold tap, put it in the wok and hoped for the best. It was a little more sticky than usual but totally fine.
- Put a small amount of oil in the pan and get it pretty hot! Yep I’m gonna recommend coconut oil, it’s just the cleanest so why use anything else?
- Add your rice and stir it round so the rice gets coated in the oil. If the pan goes a bit dry don’t add more oil just use water.
- After about 1-2 mins put your rice to one side of the pan and crack 2 eggs into the vacant part of the pan, then mix it up and make a kind of scrambled egg, break it up and mix it through the rice. If the egg is not completely cooked don’t worry it will cook with the heat of the rice.
- Add a splash of light soy sauce and the spring onions
- Mix and serve.
So come on gang, ditch that take away and use your STORE CUPBOARD ingredients to create your own clean and healthy Chinese food. In my store cupboard there is: ginger, garlic, chilli, light soy sauce, black pepper corns, manuka honey, five spice powder (be careful with this one use only tiny amount), sesame oil (this is great to achieve that Chinese taste but don’t heat it up as the heat changes the structure of the oil and makes it bad for you, so just a little drizzled on before serving.
Honey is natural but not everything on the shelves is, so try and get manuka honey, from New Zealand and widely available, but it is quite expensive. If you can’t get that honey then any organic runny honey will be fine.