41. Chilli beef and pepper stir fry


200g Beef fillet, sliced
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger
1 medium red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut into chunks
1 tsp dark Soy sauce
1 tbsp light Soy sauce
1/2 tsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp hot vegetable stock


1. Toss the beef slices in the corn flour and set aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat and add the groundnut oil until it's smoking then add the garlic, ginger and red chili and stir quickly for a few seconds so they do not burn, add the beef slices and stir fry until browned.

3. Add the red pepper and a little freshly ground black pepper and stir fry until slightly softened. Finally pour in both soy sauces, the sesame oil and vegetable stock and heat until bubbling, if the sauce needs thickening then mix some cornflour with a little cold water and stir in to the sauce.

Cook's Notes:

Prepare all the ingredients first because once the cooking has started on the wok, you won't have time.

Do not cook with sesame oil - it burns very easily and should only be used for seasoning.

Heat the oil until smoking, then add the herbs - fresh garlic, ginger - and stir very quickly so that they don't burn.

Usual rules for adding to the wok are: herbs first, then protein (prawns, beef, chicken etc), finally the vegetables, seasoning and then lastly cooked noodles or cooked rice, delicate herbs (coriander and spring onion last).

If making a saucy stir fry, after adding the vegetables, add some stock and then finally thicken with cornflour and water mixture when the stock has come to the boil, seasoned with delicate herbs like coriander or spring onion.

For the perfectionist stir fry, heat the oil, add the garlic etc, cook the protein then scoop out onto a plate. Return to the wok, some oil, then cook the vegetables and then finally return the meat to the dish and then season together.

The best wok I now use is non stick carbon steel with one handle (allows you to pick it up in one hand and then the other is free to manoeuvre the food) - you can get the cast iron woks and then season yourself but when washing do not use a metal scourer or you will take the seasoning off. Just wash with warm water and use a soft sponge.

To season, use some tongs, add oil in the wok and then hold some paper towels using the tongs and then "burn the paper" and rub this over the wok to blacken it.

Woks are great for all steaming, deep frying, shallow frying and braising.