In college, I lived right across the street from this great Chinese restaurant called Jade Dragon. At the time I didn’t have a kitchen, so the Jade Dragon was a staple in my weekly diet. They had one of those typical lunch specials – where you get a cup of soup and an egg roll with your order – but it was their crispy orange beef that really did it for me.
This is a tribute to that sweet, tangy, mildly spicy dish.
1 pound round beef or sirloin, sliced very thinly (1/4-inch or so)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons or more corn starch
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon oyster sauce, optional
1 teaspoon sesame oil, optional
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil for frying
The day before: Place the sliced beef in a bowl and sprinkle the baking soda over the top. Mix it with your hands until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will tenderize your meat.
The day of: Rinse the beef thoroughly with cold water to remove the baking soda. Pat dry and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice concentrate, oyster sauce, sesame oil (if using), salt and soy sauce. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss dried beef in cornstarch to coat. Fry in hot oil in small batches until crispy and golden brown; set aside. Drain all the oil from your pan except 1 tablespoon.
Add orange zest, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil, and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes (the bubbles will be large and 1-1/2-inches away from the edge of your pan when it is ready). Add the beef and heat through, stirring to coat. Serve immediately over steamed rice and vegetables.