Today’s Crispy Pomegranate Beef Stir Fry is my idea of comfort food. When I was growing up, my mom made a lot of stir-fries. My entire family had an affinity for Asian flavors, so a good stir fry with a ton of ginger kept everyone happy. Full disclosure: my mom is a white lady from Prince Edward Island, so I can’t call the Asian food that graced our table “authentic”. But my mom definitely tried her best to do it right. She researched the crap out the cuisines she referenced, which was a difficult feat pre-Google. She also scoured Halifax for difficult to find ingredients. While my peers’ parents were weaning their households off of Hamburger Helper, my mom was attempting to recreate Thai green curry in her kitchen.
I owe a lot of my culinary curiosity to my mom. My mom is living proof that just because you don’t know how to cook a particular dish today, doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow. She’s also the reason I crave things like wonton soup, fried rice or tofu stir fry when I’m nursing a bruised ego or a nasty head cold. Believe me, when this Crispy Pomegranate Beef Stir Fry popped into my head, I really needed it to.
Things have been painfully busy lately. I’ve gained a dizzying amount of clients in the past couple of months and it does not appear to be slowing down. Yes, these are the kind of problems you want to have but I could do without the related anxiety. I always feel like I’m operating on the edge of my ability. Sure, it’s a fantastic way to grow, but not the best way to guarantee a good night’s sleep. So, to say I’m stressed and not looking after myself would be an understatement. And when I’m stressed I reach for things that are familiar. For me, that’s a past-its-prime San Diego Zoo hoodie and a damn good stir fry just like mom used to make.
Today’s Crispy Pomegranate Beef Stir Fry is my kind of R&R. It has all the hallmarks of my childhood comfort food with a few updates, pomegranates being one. I’m not entirely sure when I became aware of the pomegranate but I’m pretty sure my 10-year-old-self knew nothing of them. But I had to include pomegranates. They are so punchy in terms of color and flavor, and I cannot for the life of me stop photographing them. Can a fruit be considered a muse?
As you can tell from past recipes, I’m a big fan of garnishing with pomegranate arils. But surprisingly, I rarely include pomegranate as a primary ingredient. What kind of nonsense is that? So, I had the nifty idea of making a sort of sweet & sour sauce with pomegranate juice. And the second you decided to include anything that suggests chicken nuggets (the sweet & sour dipping sauce was my jam) you’re duty-bound to fry something. But what? Well, once again, I let my nostalgia do the driving.
While my mom strove for some semblance of authenticity at home, when we went out all bets were off. We both have a healthy (unhealthy?) appreciation of American (Canadian?) Chinese food. Yes, I should be more ashamed to say that I still love me some “Singapore” Vermicelli and the likes of crispy ginger beef. Did you know Ginger Beef is attributed to a chef George Wong? Wong developed the dish in the 1970s for the Silver Inn in Calgary. Ginger beef is Canadian! Who knew? Given this information rabbit hole, you can probably tell where the idea for my very own crispy beef came from.
With the beef on board, I added shiitake mushrooms, broccolini, sugar snap peas and purple cabbage to my wish list. I included purple cabbage because, well, if you want to make a feel-good dish you should probably include something purple. #wordstoliveby Thus the Crispy Pomegranate Beef Stir Fry was born to lift heavy hearts, soothe nerves and delight dulled senses. Next time you feel your courage running on empty, give this stir fry a go. It may not solve all your problems but it will keep ’em quiet until dinner is done.
- 1 large skirt steak, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, divided
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp soy sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup black vinegar, divided
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed chili pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 (1 1/2 inch) knob ginger, minced
- 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 cups broccolini, cut into thirds
- 1 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1/4 head red cabbage, coarsely chopped
- 100g (3.5oz) shiitake mushroom, stems removed
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
- Place the steak in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl whisk together 1 clove of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the Shaoxing wine, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the black vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch. Pour the mixture over the beef and toss to coat. Set the beef aside to marinate for 1-3 hours.
- While the beef is marinating make the pomegranate sauce. Pour the pomegranate juice in a small sauce pan. Whisk in the honey, five spice powder, crushed chili flakes, sesame oil, the remaining soy sauce, the remaining black vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
- Place the pan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Set the sauce aside until ready to use.
- Place the remaining cornstarch, salt and ground ginger in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Dredge the beef in the cornstarch mixture and set aside.
- Heat the canola oil in a large, seasoned wok until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the beef until golden and crispy. Transfer the beef to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Store the beef in a 150F oven to keep warm.
- Wipe out the wok and add a small amount of fresh oil. Add the onions, remaining garlic and ginger to the wok. Fry until slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add the broccolini and sugar snap peas, and fry until barely cooked, about 5 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms and cabbage and cook until all the veggies are tender but still crisp.
- Stir in the crispy beef and 1/4 cup of the pomegranate sauce. Toss the stir fry to coat and remove from the heat.
- Serve the stir fry on a bed of steamed rice and garnish with sesame seeds and pomegranate arils.