If you’ve ever tried to re-create your favorite take-out meal at home and it didn’t quite measure up, here’s what you’ve been missing. It’s a technique called “velveting”, and it’s what creates that melt-in-your-mouth texture from even an inexpensive cut like flank steak. The steak is marinated in a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, soy sauce and vinegar, which forms a coating that tenderizes the meat. The steak is then quickly blanched to set that coating, which protects it during the stir fry.
It’s an easy extra step that can be done in advance – and as the stir-fry itself takes little time, you can have a delicious dinner on the table in less time than it takes to have it delivered!
Beef Fried Rice:
- 1 pound flank steak, sliced very thinly against the grain
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon soy sauce, divided
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon + 3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
- Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
Place steak in a large ziploc bag. Whisk the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the vinegar in a small bowl, till smooth. Whisk in the egg white till well combined. Add this mixture to the steak and squish the bag so that each piece is well coated. Refrigerate for one hour.
Bring 4 cups of water, the kosher salt and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to a boil in a medium pot. Cook the steak in 2 batches (making sure that the water returns to a boil between each batch), for 30 seconds each batch, removing with a slotted spoon and transferring to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to the steak and stir to combine (can be done one day in advance and kept covered, in the fridge).
Wipe out the pot and fill with water. Add salt and bring to a boil Add the rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and return to the pot; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook till just cooked through and beginning to brown, 3 – 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate or bowl. Add the watercress and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from pan and add to the steak.
Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil to the pan. Add the eggs and cook till just cooked through, about 1 minute. Use a spatula to roll the egg up like an omelet, transfer to a cutting board and cut into thin strips.
Return the heat to medium high and heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice to the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce along with the steak, watercress and egg and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil over, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.