Monday, October 31, 2011

a different kind of meat and potatoes

This is a tried-and-true Vietnamese/American fusion dish (which, I might add, very much mirrors our household). The cooking method is a stir fry, meaning it literally takes longer to prep all the ingredients than it does to cook them. It makes a tasty sauce, which is really the key to this dish. As with all things, if you can use the best ingredients--pasture raised beef and organically grown vegetables--and take the time to make the French fries in this recipe from scratch, that is preferable. But don't let it stop you from trying this if you can't make the fries or afford the pastured meat. We have occasionally eaten this dish without the fries, but after you've had it with them, you will likely always want it that way. On one desperate, potato-less occasion, I may or may not have even used hours-old McDonald's fries. Not that I'm encouraging that. 

We call this "Ma's steak and fries with tomatoes" since it's a dish that originated with my husband's mom, who is a wonderful Vietnamese home cook.

~Makes about 4 servings (or 2 servings for a really hungry pair)

2 large sirloin steaks, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced French fry thin
3-4 large fresh, very ripe, whole tomatoes, diced
1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced
Peanut oil for frying

For the marinade:
2 heaping Tablespoons cane sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons fish sauce (found in an Asian market or sometimes in the ethnic foods section at the grocery store) OR alternatively, a dash of salt and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1. Combine marinade ingredients and whisk until sugar is fairly dissolved
2. Add cubed steak to marinade. Mix well, and let sit for 30 minutes
3. Deep fry cut potatoes in your choice of oil, let drain on a towel
4. On high, heat enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of a wok or deep skillet
5. Add steak to sear for a few minutes
6. Add onions and continue to cook on high heat another minute
7. Add tomatoes and any remaining marinade. Cook an additional few minutes or until tomatoes release all their juices. You want to have a lot of sauce, so don't cook too long or it will start to evaporate--If your sauce has reduced too much, add another tomato and a little water.
8. Place fries in a deep dish or bowl. Ladle cooked steak, tomato, and sauce mixture over the top.
9. Eat with a large bowl of white jasmine rice, and enjoy how the fries and rice soak up the delicious sauce!

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