“Wok hay” translates to “breath of the wok” and Steak Kow is a simple stir-fry dish that depends on wok hay to sear the meat and vegetables to seal in the juices and create layers of caramelized flavors.
Traditional Steak Kow (kow is pronounced with a long “o” as in tow) is old school Chinese-American restaurant fare, and like most things that get updated, Steak Kow is now often on Chinese restaurant menus made with meatballs or spiced up with fiery red peppers.
The beef shines in this dish so choose a beef steak that’s tender. Flank or flat iron are good candidates. New York is better, and best is rib eye (fat = flavor). Slice the meat across the grain on the diagonal. It you like your beef more medium rare, slice it almost 1/2″ thick, otherwise slightly less than 3/8″ inch is good.
If you have a sweet white or yellow onion in your panty, such as a Vidalia, or Maui Sweet, use it here for the sugars in the onion caramelize beautifully in high heat. When scattered water drops dance in the heated oil, drop in the sliced beef and quickly spread it out into a single layer. Throw in the garlic and yellow onion, stir all to cook evenly on high heat to sear the surfaces of the beef and onion. Drizzle in oyster sauce, add green onions, stir and flip ingredients, and take off heat. That easy and that fast!
Delicious accompanied with steamed rice and a merlot or northern Rhone-blend red wine.
Recipe: Steak Kow
When doubling the recipe, use a large sauté pan or wok so that the meat and vegetables caramelize and cook quickly.
- 1/2 lb. tender beef steak
- 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 Tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- pinch ground black pepper
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 2 stalks scallions (green onion)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
- 1-2 Tablespoons oyster flavored sauce (optional)
- Prepare ingredients: place steak into freezer for about 30-45 minutes to partially freeze to make it easier to slice. Meanwhile, start cooking rice if needed. When meat is ready, cut across the grain, angling the knife on the diagonal, and slice into 3/8″ thick pieces. Place slices into a bowl and mix in well marinade ingredients: corn starch, cooking wine, soy sauce, black pepper. Rest the marinating beef for 30 minutes.
- Smash, peel, and mince garlic. Peel yellow onion, halve, and cut lengthwise into generous 1/2″ wide slices. Wash green onions and cut off whiskers and tips; cut into 1 1/2″ lengths. Set all aside separately.
- This dish comes up fast so set the table and check the rice. Heat a medium to large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add oil and carefully tilt the hot pan so that the oil covers the inside bottom surface of the heated pan. When the oil ripples, add marinated beef, then garlic and yellow onion spreading ingredients into a single layer. Stir ingredients to sear all sides. A few seconds before meat is how you like it, drizzle in oyster sauce and toss in scallions; mix well.
- Plate up!
Serves 2 for dinner with rice and vegetables.