Yesterday I invited my sister over for dinner because I decided that we were going to try and master one of my mom's classic dishes. It's best described as stir fried beef with gravy and vegetables, but we lovingly call it "na ge niu rou" (which literally translates to "that cow meat").

Now, my mom has made this dish (or a variation of this dish) a thousand times and you'd think that I'd have tried cooking it by now. However, I never knew where to begin. See, my mom's a fantastic cook (in fact, she actually used to teach classes), but she never measures anything and getting a recipe from her is nearly impossible. So when I went home for Christmas, I followed her around with a pen in one hand and a camera in the other and forced her to come up with a recipe.

My end result ended up being pretty tasty (although I didn't cut my meat as thin as I could have) and I'm surprised by how easy it was. It wasn't as tasty as my mom's dish (but come on, is ANYTHING ever as good as mom's?), but I think with practice I'll be able to make it my own. To learn what goodies my mom cooks up in the kitchen,

Stir Fried Beef with Gravy
Adapted from a recipe by YumSugar's Mom!

2 small-medium sized carrots
1 good sized green bell pepper
1/2 cup water

Beef Mixture:
1 lb of beef (I used round tip)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp soysauce
oil (I used olive, but you could use vegetable, canola, etc.)

Garlic Mixture:
1 dried chili pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 slice of fresh ginger root
1 shallot

3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water

    • Peel carrots and then thinly slice on the diagonal. Stack slices and cut into sticks. Cut and slice bell pepper into thin sticks. Set carrots and bell pepper aside.
    • Slice beef into short thin strips.
    • In a large bowl combine cornstarch and garlic powder. Place meat into bowl and coat with cornstarch mixture. Add 2 tsp soysauce and mix well. (By the way, you're going to do this whole step with your hands, it's much easier than trying to use an utensil.) Set aside.
    • IMG_1843Mince chili peppers, garlic, ginger and shallot together. Set aside.
    • Combine 3 tbsp soy sauce, sugar and water in a small bowl. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
    • Place vegetables into large, deep frying pan. Add 1/2 cup water. Place frying pan over high heat and cover. If the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat. You are just looking to steam the vegetables until they are soft. Do not overcook, as you want them to stay slightly crispy and colorful. If there appears to be too much water, remove lid and let water steam off.
    • When vegetables are finished, remove them from pan and place on serving platter. For a decorative look, create a circle with the vegetables.
    • Add enough oil to coat pan (approx 1 1/2 tbsp). When oil has started to shimmer, add beef. Be sure to spread the beef out (it will be clumpy from the mixture) so that it will evenly heat.
    • Stir-fry for several minutes, until the meat is just about finished. The sauce on the beef should have thickened and appear a little "gooey." Remove from pan and set aside (I rinsed the bowl I used to coat the beef and re-used it).
    • Place pan back over heat and add garlic mixture into pan (the pan will also contain a lot of the meat drippings). Sauté for several minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
    • Add soy sauce mixture to pan and let simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should begin to reduce (thicken). Stir often to ensure that the garlic mixture does not burn.
    • When sauce has reached a syrupy consistency, add beef back into pan. Mix until everything is coated.DSC_8203.JPG
    • Remove from pan and put onto serving platter (into the center of the vegetable circle). Serve with rice!My Mom's VersionMy Version (I forgot to cut the carrots!)My Version (I forgot to cut the carrots!)
  1. Note: There are several variations to this dish. The first one is a simple visual change. Instead of serving it inside of a ring of vegetables, you could mix everything together.

    The second variation has to do with the sauce. When you remove the meat the first time, make sure it is completely done and then add it to the platter. Create the sauce as mentioned above, but instead of adding the meat back in to the pan, simply pour the sauce over the meat. This will result in a thinner sauce.

    Also, this recipe can be doubled if necessary.

    View larger images by clicking on an image below: