Every year on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar, on a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated. Families come together in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines... all over the world. Food is shared under the Harvest Moon, a symbol of abundance and prosperity in many cultures.
To celebrate the abundance of food and good fortune, I whipped up a quick stir fry dish with the vegetables and beef strips I had on hand. One of the easiest dishes to put together, a good stir fry never fails to remind us that food is the one thing that unites the world, and will continue to do so, for many moons to come.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon minced ginger
¾ cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (found in the specialty aisle of most groceries)
1 cup water
½ pound beef sirloin, cut in strips
1 cup green beans, cut 2 –inch strips
4 small baby bok choy, trimmed and halved lengthwise, about 2 cups (also called Chinese cabbage)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch strips
1/3 cup chopped scallions
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch diluted in ½ cup water
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Jasmine rice, for serving (found in most large supermarkets, or any Asian grocery)
1. In a medium skillet, over high heat, add the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and celery. Cook till these vegetables are transparent.
2. Then add the beef strips, oyster sauce and one cup water. Stir around to blend.
3. After about 5 minutes, when the beef is cooked, add the carrots, green beans, bell pepper. Once these are soft, add the bok choy and mix well.
4. To the broth in the pan, add the diluted cornstarch mixture. This will boil in about a minute. Make sure to lower heat to low and stir this thick sauce mixture around. Blend the beef and vegetables well.
5. Season with salt, pepper and the sesame oil. Just before serving, garnish with scallions. Serve immediately with hot, steaming Jasmine rice.
NOTES: This is the most basic way to do stir fry. Once you’ve mastered it, feel free to add or substitute any ingredient you desire like broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, cabbage, mushrooms, chicken, pork or seafood. As for Oyster sauce, if desired, you can substitute this with regular soy sauce and the results are just as terrific.
Elizabeth Quirino believes that “food brings the world together.” She loves to cook, develop recipes, photograph & write about her culinary adventures on her 2 blogs Asian in America & The Queen's Notebook. Outside the kitchen, Elizabeth paints watercolors, reads everything and ends every week with ballroom dancing. For great food stories find her on Facebook and follow AnalystQueen on Twitter.