How many people out there have a bunch of celery leftover in the fridge after making soup? I do…it seems that celery often wins for best ingredient in a supporting role, but not often is it a lead ingredient.

Several days ago, I looked in the fridge and saw that there were still leftovers of the celery that I bought for soup and chicken pot pie. I thought of a dish that reminds me of home- my mom’s beef, celery, and dou fu gan (extra firm seasoned tofu). There would be sliced flank steak that was lightly marinated, there was tender-crisp celery, then  dou fu gan for some meaty texture.  Sadly, there was no dou fu gan to be found, but I did have beef, so I decided to make it without. It was still good, just different!

beef celery

Qin Cai Chao Niu Rou

芹菜炒牛肉

Celery and Beef

Ingredients:

6 ounces beef- flank steak, shoulder steak, or any on sale-sliceable beef

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

4-7 stalks of celery, including leaves, if you see them

4 cloves of garlic

2 slices of ginger (optional)

2-3 Thai chilies or whatever other chilies you may like (optional)

Oil

Salt to taste

Instructions:

1) Slice the beef into thin strips. Make sure to slice your beef against the grain, not with!

2) Marinate the beef in cornstarch and soy sauce and let it sit while you slice celery. Slice the celery on the diagonal, with cuts about 1/4 inch in thickness.

3) Slice the garlic, ginger and Thai chilies (if you are using them).

4) Heat a saute pan up, and add oil to coat the pan once it is hot.

5) Cook the beef briefly, until 80% of the strips have turned color, from red to brownish/gray. Remove from heat.

6) If the beef ate up most of the oil, now is the time to add a little more oil. Then, add the garlic, ginger and Thai chilies, and saute until you can smell them.

7) Add celery, and saute until it is slightly softened but still crisp.

8) Add the beef and any accumulated juices back into the pan, and heat the beef up. Season with salt.

9) Eat! This goes well with rice, and also with thin noodles.

Substitutions/Notes:

-“Slice against the grain”- if you see the lines or grains in the meat running left to right, make sure to slice perpendicularly- up and down.

-If you have Chinese or Taiwanese celery (Which has a much stronger bite to it), it would also be great in this dish.

-If you only have ground beef, you can use that too, but it won’t have as good of a 口感-kou gan or mouth feel/texture as sliced beef.

-If you wish, feel free to add 4-8 ounces of thinly sliced dou fu gan. Add them in when you add the celery.

-I guess we were a vegetable-loving family. Often times when my mom made dishes with vegetables and meat, there would always be some meat left behind, regardless of how many vegetables she added! We loved meat, but also loved vegetables and knew that vegetables were good for us. (Hence the large range for the recommended number of celery stalks…)

-When mama made this dish, she would use just garlic- ginger and Thai chilies were my addition.

-If there were leftovers of this dish, my mom would cook somen , (which cooked in seconds), then add the leftovers. The noodles would soak up all the beefy/celery sauce. Best breakfast/lunch ever!

beef celery