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  • Writer's pictureGary Mack

Crispy sweet chilli beef with egg fried rice

My lovely friend Katy came round for dinner the other night. I have to mention that Katy is not very good with gluten! She's not going to die if she eats it, but give her bread basket and with in 15mins she in on the floor in agony! It was a nice challenge to make something that was gluten free. (Please note that soya sauce has gluten in it, you don't have to add it, but Katy told me that she would be fine as it was a tiny quantity.)

This is an easy and  fast recipe to make especially if you have left over rice. Sadly I didn't, so I had to cook some from fresh. Rice from the night before is far better as it tends to be dry. If you use freshly cooked rice you need to dry it out a little. I popped my rice on some grease proof paper and popped it in the oven at 70°C ish. The rice was one of the first things I started with. It takes the longest.

While the rice was boiling I took the beef steak out of the freezer (if you freeze it for half an hour or so you can cut them easier). You want very fine strands.

The first lot I chopped were too wide. They were nice and thin but quite wide. I would recommend cutting a thick steaks horizontally (like you would a Victoria sponge!). Season the steak just a little and set to one side.

Once the water has evaporated and the rice is light and fluffy, it time to throw it in the oven. I actually had no idea if this was going to work, but I pretended to be confident!

It's now time to bring everything together. Pour some veg oil in to your wok. I would say that it should be no deeper than one third of the height of the wok. You are going to be dealing with VERY HOT oil.

Take a saucepan and pour in the sweet chilli sauce - I think I used about 8 to 10 table spoons. Then add a tablespoon of soya sauce. Don't add this if you want a totally gluten free meal, my friend Lucy only has to sniff bread and she is hors de combat!

Now time for the juice of an orange (zest the orange first and put it aside, it's delicious sprinkled on top at the end). The sauce needs to thicken so it will stick to the beef. What better way to thicken than to add good old corn flour? Stir this all together and throw in a  ruby red hot chili, if you like. This all needs to be heated through and the corn flour cooked out, so it will become thick and sticky to the touch.

Now on to the beef. Nice and easy. Having sliced the beef earlier and lightly seasoned it is now time to add more corn flour.

I used two tablespoons. You want every slither to be coated (corn flour is used a lot in Asian cooking, it tenderises the meat, locks in the flavour and helps make the beef crisp). 

Now you're all floured and ready to fly. 

Drop one slither of beef into the hot oil. It should spit, hiss and bubble. This is why I love cooking. It excites all your scenes. Sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. If the beef starts to bubble straight away, you can now add a handful more to the wok - not too much as you want the oil to stay hot. If you overcrowd you will bring the temperature of the oil dramatically down and you will end up with soggy oily beef, and no one wants soggy beef, do they? You need to look out for the bubbles, the smell will change when the beef is ready.

You don't want to burn the beef but you will smell that it has cooked. The sound of the hissing and spitting will also change when that water in the beef has evaporated. Finally you will feel the beef getting tighter when you prod it with your slotted spoon. If you take some out and let it cool a little it should be crispy to the touch. As I said, you get to use all your senses! 

VERY HANDY TIP. Peel ginger with a teaspoon. It will change your life!

Beef all nice and crispy I would then cook the veg. Just a quick stir-fry, nothing fancy. The beef will have so much flavour. I was a little lazy and bought a little packet of prepared veg but just use your favourite. I love my veg just cooked and no more. Crunchy for me. Once cooked, set to one side or pop in a low oven. 

Egg fried rice is very easy to do at home. Get your wok very hot. The hotter you can get your wok the less likely the rice will stick. I started with a large handful of frozen peas, then the rice. Keep the rice moving round the wok all the time. Remembering that flavour comes from the caramelising the rice. You don't need to be to fast, just firm and constant with the tossing. When your rice gets nice and hot and a little brown, crack the egg straight into the rice. Again, stir firm and constant but slow and steady. I would have loved to have added spring onion but I forgot to buy some. I would have also have added soya sauce but I did not want to push the gluten too far! 

You're ready to go! Tip the beef into the thick sweet and sticky sauce. Make sure every crispy morsel of the beef is coated. I served the beef with the veg and a bed of little gem lettuce. It is just lovely to have the chilli  heat with the fresh, clean and cooling crunch of the lettuce.

Gosh this was a lovely meal. And Katy commented that it was the first time in years that she has managed to have a Chinese style meal. Well, one that was virtually gluten free.

Enjoy and happy woking! 

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