Terry Ott's Nuclear Fire Stir Fry of Death Recipe




  1. Place beef into freezer for 10 minutes; very slightly freezing the meat makes slicing it much easier.
  2. Prepare sauce. Mix 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup sherry and 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
  3. Remove beef from freezer and using a very sharp knife, cut beef into 1 inch cubes. Cut against the grain of the meat with the first cut.
  4. In a large bowl with a lid, combine 1/4 jar of chili oil, 1/4 cup rice wine, black pepper, crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp garlic, 1 tbsp corn starch and beef. Make sure beef is well-covered by the marinade. Cover marinade bowl and place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours (more is always better, overnight is ideal). Shake/stir occasionally to ensure even coating of the meat.
  5. Rinse and prepare all vegetables. Do this well ahead of time to give the vegetables time to dry as well as warm up to room temperature. If they're cold and wet when they're thrown into the wok, they don't stir fry as much as steam. That means they won't be nearly as crunchy as they should be.
    • Packaged stir-fry veggies: ensure that everything is in easy bite-sized pieces, especially the broccoli
    • Green onions: remove and discard roots. Cut into 1" slices
    • White onion: cut into 1" squares
    • Red, yellow and green peppers: cut in half, remove all the seeds. Cut into 1" squares
    • Mushrooms: make sure to keep wrapped until the very last possible moment
    • Bamboo shoots and water chestnuts: drain out liquid from cans
    • Bean sprouts: simply rinse with water
    • Dried Asian peppers: leave whole for a milder impact to food, slice into small pieces for a much hotter experience
  6. Put all ingredients within easy reach of the wok. Stirfrying is done over very high heat, so everything cooks extremely quickly. You don't want to be scrambling to cut something at the last minute while the food in the wok sits there burning.
  7. Clean and start cooking rice (a surprisingly difficult step for me to remember for some reason). If using a rice cooker, I find a 1-to-1 ratio between cups of rice and water results in the best final product.
  8. Place a large and very well-seasoned carbon steel wok on stove. I'd recommend at least a 14" wok to hold all the ingredients (note: the Wok Shop in San Francisco is a great place to find large-diameter, high-quality woks and all associated implements for very reasonable prices -- and they take web orders).
  9. Turn on the fan above your stove as high as it will go and crack at least one window nearby (the fan does very little unless it can draw in fresh air from outside). It's about to get very smoky in your kitchen.
  10. Turn heat to high. I mean high -- the absolute highest setting your stove offers. When you're using a well-seasoned wok, you get two huge benefits from getting the wok as hot as you can: 1) your food will taste better; and 2) less food will stick to the wok. Counterintuitive but true. Let the wok heat until until the surface begins to gently smoke.
  11. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of peanut oil onto the sides of the the wok, letting it drain to the bottom. This method helps to coat the sides of the wok with oil as well as avoid starting a grease fire when the cold oil hits the very hot wok. Tip the wok from side to side to help coat the sides with oil. Let the oil heat for a few seconds until the edges of the oil start to smoke gently.
  12. Add beef to hot wok in small batches. Make sure the batches are small enough that all the meat can sit comfortably on the flat bottom of the wok without being crowded (in my wok that is about half a pound of meat per batch). Be exceedingly careful to not splash boiling oil onto yourself (hint: tip the bowl away from you). The smoke will be fairly intense and you may find yourself coughing some at this point. This is normal and you can take it as a sign you're doing something right. :)
  13. Important: Once the meat hits the surface of the now tremendously hot wok, do not stir it. I know it sounds scary and wrong, but trust me. Let the meat sit unmolested for 45 seconds to a minute. This lets the beef start to brown, adding a tremendous amount of flavor to the final product.
  14. Once the browning period is over, start stirring/flipping constantly, making sure to use a wooden or (preferably) bamboo implement -- metal can damage the seasoning of the wok. The very moment the meat has lost the last trace of its red/pink color, it should be taken out of the wok and put aside on a clean plate. Any more cooking will cause the meat to be dry and possibly burned. At this point the meat is about 80% cooked and will finish cooking when we add it back in later.
  15. Repeat the three steps above until all the baches of meat have been cooked and placed on the clean plate. If there's some food stuck to the bottom of your wok, don't be concerned. That's a result of the cornstarch we used and it's entirely expected. To bring it up (and add a lot of flavor to the final product), add a small amount of soy sauce just prior to removing the last batch of meat from the wok. The soy sauce will deglaze the wok, so use your spatula to loosen the cooked-on food until the bottom is perfectly smooth again, then empty the meat onto the plate.
  16. Turn the heat to just under medium. Put the wok back onto the burner. Add another tablespoon of peanut oil onto the side of the wok, and tilt the wok to re-coat the sides. Wait until oil starts to smoke gently.
  17. Add the aromatics (2 tbsp ginger and 3 tbsps garlic) into the oil. Stir constantly until the smell of the garlic and ginger are released into the air and the garlic just starts to turn a light golden-brown.
  18. Increase heat to medium-high. Add the prepackaged stir-fry vegetables, making sure to stir constantly from instant they touch the wok. After approximately 2 minutes add the white onion, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Cook for an additional minute, increase heat to high, and add all remaining vegetables: green onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, asian peppers, bean sprouts and peanuts/cashews. Continue to cook until onions reach a crunchy-but-cooked consistency that the cook is happy with. If concerned about the food drying out, add a VERY small amount of water to the center of the wok.
  19. Reintroduce the mostly-cooked meat back into the wok. Add sauce into wok, along with chili oil to taste. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. This will cause the sauce to thicken dramatically.
  20. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  21. Serve on rice.
  22. When done cooking, make sure to clean the wok thoroughly. To clean the wok, use very hot water and a soft sponge or (if necessary) a non-metallic scrubber. Never use any soap or scouring pads; these will destroy the seasoning of the wok. Once clean, do not try with a towel. Simply put the wok back on the stove on medium-low for a few minutes to dry thoroughly to prevents rusting. Once dry, take a paper towel and rub a very light coating of cooking oil onto the entire cooking surface before putting the wok away.

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