Tuesday 1 May 2012
Eat Shoots And Leaves - Stir Fry Chilli Leaves With Beef
This is the greatest discovery of the century. So okay, maybe not the greatest, but definitely a discovery. You can eat the leaves of a chilli plant - great news for those who are green fingers and have a lovely plot in the garden where the chill plant flourishes. Although it may not be the most common greens in the western cuisine; even in Asia, where the leaves are eaten, they weren't all that well-known either. When I tried to research about the leaves, there appeared to be an existing urban myth that they are poisonous which I somehow refused to believe. Why then, would they sell them in the shops? Don't they want any returning customers? I wonder.
When I bought this from Chinatown recently, I was advised to used it in soup and when I asked about stir frying them, I was met with an immediate shock-horror look on the cashier's face. But being a stubborn me, I decided to go ahead and experiment with a stir fry dish anyway.
For my so-called experiment, I wanted to do a simple stir fry dish with this misunderstood ingredient but just to be on the safe side in case it didn't worked out and tasted horrible, I added beef so that at the end of the cooking, there will be something edible from this trial for my supper.
The main idea was to taste the leaves so these were all stir fried simply with nothing more than some soy sauce and finished off with a light dash of sesame oil for added fragrant and flavour. The end result was delicious, the leaves tasted like a cross between spinach and amaranth, rich and irony with a slight hint of the chilli flavour but without the heat. So if you are ever feeling a bit adventurous yourself and wanted to try something different than the usual mundane spinach or spring greens, then give this unsung hero a go.
As for the urban myth, well, I am still blogging so hopefully that's a good sign.
350g rump of sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain into bite-size pieces
4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
450g chili leaves
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp roasted sesame oil
For the marinade:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
Combine the beef with the marinade and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until smoking. Add the beef and cook for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and drain using a sieve. Pour away all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.
Reheat the oil until smoking, add the garlic and stir fry for 30 second, until fragrant. Add the chili leaves and cook for another 30 seconds, until just wilted before returning the beef to the wok. Add the soy sauce and sugar and toss to coat the beef and the greens with the sauce.
Serves immediately with some steamed rice.