You say Szechuan I say Sichuan, in the end it all tingles your mouth with the same spicy lip-tingling heat! 😉
After my trip to Shanghai in January I brought back a few spices that intrigued me. Including these sichuan peppers. They have a very distinct flavour, different from a black pepper. Definitely spicy, but with more of a ‘zing’ than a ‘heat’ if that makes sense. You really do have to eat it to know what I mean.
Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to China to buy some sichuan peppers. You can find them at most Asian grocers and I even saw them at my local Bulk Barn.
This recipe also had a few other new to me ingredients that I really liked:
First, are the enoki mushrooms, which are these long stringy mushrooms that are very noodle-y when cooked up.
Second, the sichuan spicy bean paste. Apparently it is used quite a bit in sichuan cooking, but I had never cooked with it before. I quite liked it. I found it at my local Asian grocer. I tried to find one that was sugar, gluten and soy free, but honestly there was not one that fit the bill. So unfortunately this is not a truly paleo recipe. But I did find this recipe for spicy bean paste by Red House Spice that would be a great way to make this much healthier and gluten free. I might try it one day, but I was in a rush so I went with quick and easy over more time consuming and healthier this time. If anyone knows of a brand of bean paste that has cleaner ingredients please do let me know!
This recipe is adapted from the Woks of Life version of Sichuan Boiled Beef. It is definitely for those that love a bit of spice in their life. Not for the faint of palate that is for sure!
The first time I made it I went a bit overboard on the sichuan peppers and we were sniffling with every bite! My lips were tingling for a good hour afterwards. The recipe below will get you to a solid medium level of heat. Which to me is hot enough to feel, but not so hot that you don’t taste anything else. Your lips will definitely have a light tingle after you’re done eating this soup.
I loved experimenting with all these new flavours to find new favourites. Have you cooked with any of these ingredients before? Got any other ideas of what I can make with the sichuan peppers I have in my pantry?
Sichuan Beef Broth
- 1.5 lbs sirloin steak – cut into thin (1/8 inch) strips
- 3 tbsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp corn startch (or arrowroot powder)
- 4 cups bean sprouts
- 1.5 cup enoki mushrooms (about 7 oz)
- 2 inches ginger
- 6 scallions
- 1 tbsp sichuan peppercorns
- 3 tbsp spicy bean paste
- 6 cups broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
- 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
- 4-6 baby bok choy
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
- oil for frying
Marinate the Beef and Prep the Ingredients:
- Start by marinating the beef for 30 to 60 mins: Mix the beef slices, baking soda and water and make sure the beef is well coated. Refrigerate and let it marinate. This will help to soften the beef.
- Wash the veggies. Remove the roots from the enoki mushrooms. Slice and peel the ginger. Thinly slice the scallions and separate the whites from the green. Halve the baby bok choy.
- When you are ready to cook, rinse the beef to wash the baking soda off and sprinkle with the corn starch (or arrowroot powder) and toss to coat. Set aside.
Make the Broth:
- In a large, deep saucepan heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the bean sprouts stiry fry for a few mins then add the enoki mushrooms. Stir fry for 2-3 mins. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same saucepan, heat 1/3 cup of oil. Add the scallion whites, ginger slices and sichuan peppercorns. Let this heat up on medium heat till the scallions start to brown (2-3 mins).
- Turn the heat down and add the bean paste and stir fry till the oil turns red (about 30 secs). Watch that your heat is not too high, or it will sputter everywhere and burn!
- Add the broth, sugar (if using), and let it come to a boil.
- Once the broth is boiling, add the beef slices and baby bok choy and let it come to a boil again. It won’t take long for the beef to cook. Once the beef turns opaque, add the bean sprout mixture back in and turn off the heat.
Final flavour topping:
- When ready to serve, in a separate frying pan heat 1/4 cup of oil and add minced garlic and chilli flakes. Cook for a few mins till the garlic starts to brown and turn fragrant, then quickly pour this garlic chilli oil over the broth.
- Sprinkle the broth with chopped cilantro and the scallion greens and serve warm.