For some people, comfort food means mac and cheese, or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. For me, a spicy stir-fry soothes the spirit, and just the act of cooking one, the chopping and prepping and tossing and stirring, calms me down. It's been a crazy month as we've moved from country to city. We're settling in quickly, thanks in no small part to my husband Ted's hard work and tireless box-lugging, and I've been breaking in the kitchen by cooking my own brand of comfort food dishes. Now that I live a few blocks from Ming's, a great Asian supermarket, I can find hard-to-find vegetables like baby bok choy, which is the perfect size for stir-fry recipes like this one. To prepare it, simply slice each little head in half lengthwise. Of course you can use a regular head of bok choy, and cut it into large pieces, or even substitute another type of cabbage. And you can swap chicken or tofu for the beef. Chili paste with garlic, oyster sauce and soy sauce combine for my favorite stir-fry flavoring, and to my way of thinking, there's really no substitute for it.
Spicy beef, bok choy, and bell pepper stir-fry
From the pantry, you'll need: onion, peanut (or other neutral) oil, chili paste with garlic, oyster sauce, reduced sodium soy sauce, cornstarch.
2 tsp peanut oil (or rice bran oil, or other neutral oil)
1/2 lb flank steak or top round, sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
12 baby bok choy, washed, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise, or 3 cups roughly chopped bok choy
1 tsp chili paste with garlic, or more to taste
2 tsp oyster sauce
3 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Heat a wok over high heat. When the pan is hot, stir in the beef. Let it sit undisturbed for 30 seconds, then stir-fry with a spatula for 1 minute, until the beef is browned.
Add the onion and bell pepper, and stir for 30-45 seconds, until the onion is softened. Pile on the bok choy, reduce heat to medium, and gently stir to bring some of the beef mixture on top of the bok choy.
Pour in 1/4 cup of water. Cover the wok, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the bok choy is slightly cooked.
Uncover the wok, stir in the chili paste with garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. Then, add the oyster sauce and soy sauce, and stir, gently turning the vegetables to make sure everything is coated with the sauce.
With the liquid in the wok bubbling, pour in the dissolved cornstarch, and stir for 15-20 seconds, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional), and serve hot, over steamed white or brown rice.
More recipes that feature bok choy:
Steamed baby bok choy with spicy hoisin glaze, from The Perfect Pantry
Bok choy stir fry with ginger and garlic, from The Perfect Pantry
Udon soup with bok choy and poached egg, from The Kitchn
Baby bok choy and shiitake stir fry, from My New Roots
Sweet sausage stir fry with bok choy and pineapple, from Green Lite Bites
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