Vic and I are fortunate to have our very own personal chef to share the cooking duties in our home several days a week. Pranee Townsend, Vic’s mom, lives with us and keeps us well fed on her extensive repertoire of Thai and Chinese cuisine. She even delights us occasionally with her fusion creations such as a pasta or noodle stir fry. The Thai cooking is in her blood and her Chinese dishes come easy to her as she has lived and traveled in China extensively since she was a young woman. Need a spring roll or pad Thai fix? She’s the one. Speaking of spring rolls and other delights such as dumplings, won-tons and siu mai, her nimble hands and fingers knock out such creations faster than Lucy and Ethyl could stuff candy from the conveyor belt in their mouths.
Pranee doesn’t eat meat (meat=beef to her; pork, poultry and seafood are still on her “A list”) but occasionally renders up some beef dish for her hungry sons. Not long ago, she surprised me with her Beef with Peppers. She noticed the tears and sweaty scalp all the way through my enjoyment while asking, “Too spicy?” “No,” I wheezed, “just right.” Tears and reactions such as perspiring aren’t always synonymous with sadness or discomfort. Sometimes wonderfully spicy food will just shoot you straight into an endorphin high.
The heat in this recipe is certainly not near the “woo hoo, where’s the cold beer?” level of some Southeastern Asian dishes. I would say the heat level is “just right”. Mind you, my tolerance for all things hot with chiles comes from growing up on Tex-Mex. I do believe that I was weaned from my formula to enchiladas with jalapeños.
Pranee’s Nua Pad Prik — Beef with Peppers
- 1 lb. (455 gr.) beef sirloin, sliced very thin on the bias or against the grain
- 1 medium-sized onion, halved from top to bottom, then slice one half from top to bottom for curved strips. Store the other half for future use
- 1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 2-inch long strips (about 5 cm.)
- 1 handful button-sized crimini mushrooms, brushed clean and quartered
- 5 red jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced length-wise
- 1½ tablespoon (a generous 22 ml) oyster sauce
- ½ cup (120 ml.) stock (beef or chicken)
- Toasted sesame oil
- Coat the sliced beef with a sprinkling of cornstarch (think of it as a light but generous breading) then add enough dark, toasted sesame oil to make it slightly pasty. Pranee mixes this all together with her fingers, making sure all the beef slices are coated evenly. Let this marinate for at least a couple of hours. This not only tenderizes the meat but provides a velvety coating when cooked.
- Heat some oil, perhaps ⅓-½ cup (80-120 ml.) in a wok.
- Begin by stir-frying the onion for a moment then add the mushrooms.
- When they look just right, add the green bell pepper and continue stirring.
- Add the beef slices and continue stirring.
- Add the red jalapeño slices and continue stirring for a moment.
- Stir in the oyster sauce and stock and continue as the sauce thickens.
Note: In the photograph, the beef is still slightly pink. Use that as a guide to the timing of each step. Stir fries never take much time, so have all ingredients ready to go before you begin.
Serves 4 as part of a larger meal with plenty of steamed jasmine rice
Vic and I enjoyed a NxNW — North by Northwest Cabernet Sauvignon on a recent visit to King Estate Winery just outside Eugene. It was a big fruity red and would stand up to the spiciness of this dish as well. You can read more about King Estate in Vic’s next post.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities
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