Black Pepper Steak

I really like black pepper. As a kid, I used to shake a bunch of blackpepper onto my New England Clam Chowder at Souplantation (Sweet Tomatoes in the South), and would put tons and tons on my scrambled eggs at church retreats (so much that sometimes I contemplated unscrewing the cap for a bit). Aside: Looking back, I realize that one of the contributors to me furiously shaking the black pepper was its loss of intensity due to being pre-ground. If you don’t yet have a pepper mill, do yourself a favor and buy 1) a pepper mill 2) whole peppercorns. As you know, whole spices keep much better than ground spices, so do yourself a favor and jump on my whole spice bandwagon! My peppercorns have lasted indefinitely, and I never regret having to grind them fresh because of how superior they are in taste.

When I staged at the French restaurant, one of the now-former garde manger cooks informed me, rather authoritatively, that black pepper was supposed to be an accent, not a main flavor. Though I agreed that one should not add so much black pepper in dishes so that it overwhelms the other flavors, it made me kind of sad that black pepper is not more often the star in the dish. Two memorable food items include the black pepper filet mignon on Chinese banquet menus, and black pepper sauce at Hong Kong-style cafes in the San Gabriel Valley like Regent or
Garden Cafe.

When I first made this dish in May, I had some flank steak to use up, and the poor celery was getting limp from too much time in the fridge. This time, I was equipped with delicious skirt steak, and fresh peppers from the CSA.

Black Pepper Steak
Serves 3-4 as part of a multi-dish course for 4

Ingredients:

Marinade:
4 oz skirt steak, or any other cut of sliceable beef
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t cornstarch
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
Vegetables, etc
1 Tbsp oil
2 cups sliced onion (1 medium)
2 cups sliced peppers of any kind (I used 7 banana peppers and half a red bell pepper)
1/2 tsp salt
1 to 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
1) Slice the beef: first, cut against the grain, and slant your cutting so that you have thin slices. If you need to, cut these slices in half crosswise, so that they are only a little longer than your pinky (2-3 inches long). Stack a few thin slices at a time to cut into strips. When in doubt, go thinner!

2) Marinate the meat: Add beef and marinade ingredients in a bowl.

3) Heat half of the oil in a wok until the oil starts to smoke, then add the beef to the wok, stirring to break up all the beef slices. Move around quickly to prevent any one slice of beef from cooking too quickly. Cook until 80% of the beef has gone from red to brown on the outside. Transfer the beef to a bowl.

4) Heat the wok back up until it’s hot, then add the rest of the oil. Add the onions and peppers. Add some salt to season the vegetables. Cook
until the onions and peppers are slightly softened, then add more black pepper! Add the beef, juices and all, back into the wok. Saute just slightly to re-heat the beef, then remove from the wok.

5) Serve with lots of rice, and maybe more black pepper 🙂

Notes/Substitutions:
-Feel free to substitute or add ingredients here. Please keep the onions, though. Onions and beef are good friends! Mushrooms, while earthy and meaty tasting, may drown your beef in their juices if not cooked properly, so make sure cook the ‘shrooms in small batches on high heat. Celery is also a great substitute for the peppers- use just 1 to 1 1/2 cup of celery in this case, because they tend to shrink less when stir-fried.

-Increase the amount of steak (and the marinade) if you like.  I try to cut down on the amount of meat I use, for health and money purposes, but feel free to do what you like.

 

Black pepper steak
Use whatever peppers you want!

2 Comments

  1. OOO this looks so yummy (and simple)! I'll be trying this out!

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