Syn-Free Beef in Peking Sauce

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It’s been a while since I posted any recipes, so thought I’d get my finger out! After a few weeks at Slimming World, a lot of people get a bit fed up with eating the same things. It’s a trap that everyone falls into, myself included. The amazing weightlosses in the first weeks are so exciting, you usually end up eating the same menus to ensure the same results. It’s fairly logical and it does work for a month or so, but your body gets used to it and you get fed up with it. You need to shock your system! Mix it up a bit and you won’t be tempted to hurl yourself off the wagon.

Slimming groups will always give you great ‘meal suggestions’ to inspire you, and a lot of these take the form of fast food imitations/alternatives. These are great, but they are no substitute for the real thing. An extra lean burger on a wholemeal roll will not taste like a burger from a chippy. Oven baked salmon with potato wedges is not the same as fish and chips. It can’t be the same! If you want to recreate a fast food favourite accurately, you need to spend a bit of time on it and use a lot of different ingredients. For example, stir frying some beef strips and vegetables with soy sauce will not taste like a chop suey from the Chinese. That’s because soy sauce is only one of a whole host of ingredients the guy in the Chinese uses. He uses salt, sugar, sesame oil, bean pastes, MSG……the list goes on. In short, he uses syns! Anyway, I’m rambling. Here is my recipe for Peking Sauce. This is a sweet sauce, with a little bit of heat to keep it interesting. From my vast knowledge of Chinese cuisine (eating, not cooking), every restaurant is different. One man’s Peking is another man’s Cantonese. So call it what you like, I call it Peking cos that’s my weapon of choice when I hit the Chinese.

You will need:

A medium sized saucepan
A hand blender
A sharp cooks knife

Six cloves of garlic, peeled
A large piece of fresh ginger (4 inches), roughly chopped
Some fresh coriander
Red or white wine vinegar
Sweetener – Splenda/Canderel/whatever
Fresh chillis
A large onion
Chopped tomatoes
Chinese five spice powder
Soy sauce

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Get all your stuff together before you start. Then start!

1. Peel the garlic cloves, roughly chop the ginger and a small amount of the coriander. Cut an end off the onion and chop roughly too. You’ll be blending all these things, so you don’t need to be too precise.

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2. Spray the saucepan with some Frylight and throw in your wee garlic/ginger etc mix. Sweat this off over a medium heat til the onions change colour and til your kitchen smells amazing. At this point, throw in a good shake of five spice powder. This is a slightly aniseedy mix of spices, but it doesn’t taste as strong as it smells. As always though, approach with caution and remember that you can always add – but you can’t take away! Stir the mix and coat the onions etc with the five spice. Add more Frylight if you need to.

3. As the contents of the saucepan start to cook dry, throw in the red wine vinegar. You can also use white wine vinegar, or indeed bog standard malt vinegar if you want to. It doesn’t matter how much you put in, you will be using the sweetener to balance it out, but at least put in enough to cover what’s already in the pan completely. You should end up with something like this:

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4. Grab yourself a spoon, as you’re now going to use your palate to dictate how you like your sauce! At this stage, your nostrils will be feeling the effects of the steaming vinegary concoction in the pan. This pain is temporary. Start adding the sweetener to the pan, stirring as you go. Don’t be shy, you need to kill the sourness of the vinegar. Keep tasting. Find your own level. Remember that the dish is supposed to be tangy to some degree! Once you start getting a taste you’re happy with, introduce a few decent glugs of light soy sauce. Again, keep tasting. There is no right or wrong taste here, just your preferred taste. You have three tastes here – sweet, sour, salty. Find your own balance!

5. Add the chopped tomatoes. Again, keep tasting. You should have something like this:

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6. Now! Blend this bad boy! Blend blend blend until its smooth. Its essentially a Peking soup! You should now have something that looks remotely like a slightly darker tomatoey sauce.

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That’s pretty much it! Now if you really want to be fancy-schmancy you can strain the sauce. Because of the chopped tomatoes and the blending, the sauce resembles something more curry-like or Italian. But the taste is very much Chinese, I assure you! I began to strain my sauce (heehee) earlier, but this leaves you with a thin sauce that won’t cling terribly well to meat or rice and will need thickened in some other way. I considered experimenting with Xanthan gum, but my rumbling stomach told me to stop being stupid.

So your sauce is done. If you have the luxury of leaving it overnight, do so. The flavours will develop and will leave you with an epic tastefest. When it comes to the time you want to use it, simply stir fry your meat of choice, add some crunchy veg, then add the sauce. Bingo. This evening I went for some rump steak fillets, sliced thinly and stir fried with the remainder of the large onion, some green and red chillis, and some water chestnuts. I also added some more garlic, as you can never have too much garlic! As I was tweeting my progress with the feed, @mama_mooo suggested ribs – this sauce would be fantastic with some well trimmed pork ribs. Kudos to you Juls! Will definitely have to rustle that one up soon.

I ended up with this in my wok:

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….and it was good. Syn free, and very good. I would go so far as to say that it’s easily as good as any I’ve had from a Chinese takeaway. It could pass for a carry out, but the consistency of the sauce might be a giveaway. If I strained it and thickened it again, I’m fairly confident even the most discerning fast food devotee wouldn’t know the difference. If anyone out there tries this, or any of the other recipes on here, please give me some feedback! I know as recipes go, these are a tad haphazard, but y’know. When in Rome and all that.

Toodles for now!

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2 thoughts on “Syn-Free Beef in Peking Sauce

  1. I just made the peking stirfry and just used less vinegar this made sauce thicker and I have to give you 10 out of 10 for the recepie! It was nicer than the chinese takeaway lol really lovely! Thanks this will be my weekend treat instead of craving for chinese takeaway! Do you have anymore recepies?

    • Thank you! It’s really good isn’t it? I never realised Chinese dishes were pretty much just vinegar and sugar….sounds a bit Ming when you put it like that! I have a few recipes on the site, but I’m a bit of a ‘make it up as you go along’ type!

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