02 May 2008

Flank Steak with Bell Peppers and Mango

I made flank steak with peppers and mango the other night. It is my husband’s favorite of my invented recipes and one of mine too now that I have perfected my workarounds to avoid gluten, ginger and corn syrup. I started making this dish a few years ago in an attempt to recreate a dish my husband used to make for me when we were dating. The original recipe was from the Time-Life series on Chinese Cooking, published sometime in the 1970’s ( I know I am really dating myself here).

Anyway, being the lazy sort of person that I am sometimes, I didn’t feel like digging out the book and I thought I remembered the marinade well enough to wing it. This was before I knew I was gluten intolerant, so I used regular soy sauce, rice vinegar, Mirin, corn starch and ginger. I like red bell pepper better than green (which was in the original recipe) so I used those as well as shallots (which were always in the recipe). It came out pretty well and I continued to make it, eventually adding a jar marinade (Thai Chili Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce from Wild Thymes) that brought some heat to it and I tossed in some red wine at the end. One summer I added sliced nectarines and the result was heavenly.

My first few attempts to make it sans gluten and ginger were pitiful. I could substitute sake for the Mirin and wheat-free soy for the regular, but substituting the ginger was really hard. I was afraid to use the Wild Thymes dipping sauce because it had unidentified “spices” in it and I am allergic to chili powder. I experimented with different spice combinations and discovered that allspice, cinnamon, paprika, red pepper flakes and cayenne worked pretty well. It tasted good, but not particularly Asian. The nectarines were still great and in the summer I would alternate with peaches. In the Fall I tried Fuyu persimmons and then I hit on the mango version. All of them are great and allow me to make the dish in any season. I recently discovered that adding a bit more soy, rice vinegar and sake near the end of the cooking process brings a bit more Asian flavor to it and gives the sauce that extra sweetness I used to get with the red wine—without the headache! I serve it over Japanese style white rice cooked in a rice cooker.

Flank Steak with Red Pepper and Mango

1 lb. flank steak, cut lengthwise into 4 or 5 strips, then cut crosswise into bite size pieces.
2 red or orange bell peppers, cut into 1" squares
1 large shallot, peeled and roughly sliced
1 mango, peeled and cut into large dice
1 T peanut oil
a few drops of sesame oil

4 tsp. wheat-free soy sauce
2 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. sake or corn syrup-free Mirin
1 tsp. rice vinegar
a few drops of sesame oil
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
dash of cayenne
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Japanese style rice

feeds 4

Start rice (if using a rice cooker, it should finish right on time).

Cut steak. Add marinade ingredients to meat. Toss to coat.

Chop vegetables and mango.

Heat peanut oil in wok (use medium heat if using non-stick pan). Add shallots and saute until slightly soft. Add bell peppers and mango and cook slightly. Remove from wok with slotted spoon. Add marinated steak to wok (add more oil if necessary). Use a slotted spoon or tongs to add meat. Do not pour in rest of marinade. Trust me. The steak will boil in it and end up tough. Brown the meat well on all sides. Let it form a crust before turning. Add the vegetables and mango back in. Cook, stirring all until the meat is done to your taste and the vegetables are still a bit crunchy. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a bit more soy, rice vinegar and sake. Cook a minute more and taste, making any adjustments necessary. You should have a lovely sauce by then. Serve over rice. Sigh with happiness.

Karen, herself