This was a first time, new recipe for me. I didn’t consciously intend to make a dish that originated at a famous restaurant. I was just craving food with an Asian influence– something that used ginger and lemongrass and chilies. Serious Eats and The Kitchn and the cook books on my table offered no inspiration. I like using Recipezaar for moments like this when my regular foodie haunts fail me. I went to Recipezaar and searched for recipes with the aforementioned ingredients (great tool for those with food allergies), organized my search by highest rating, and happened upon #236899 “Wild Ginger’s Seven Flavor Beef” submitted by user BarbryT. Unfortunately, I couldn’t reach her for comment because Recipezaar currently has no way for members to message one another. I will be submitting a review to her though. She introduces the recipe with the comment, “Wild Ginger is one of the reasons I moved to Seattle.” Wild Ginger Restaurant has been a Seattle staple since 1989. Their website is super shiny and the reviews I found are more than glowing. My husband and I will make a trip to Seattle in July and along with visiting Trader Joe’s and our favorite Italian restaurant, we may need to pay our respects. Wild Ginger boasts the
distinction of holding “the Zagat Guide‘s title of # 1 Most Popular Restaurant in the Pacific Northwest Region for 11 consecutive years.” The description of our meal on the menu is mouth-watering: “Flank steak, fragrant with the seven flavors of lemongrass, peanuts, hoisin, chilies, basil, garlic and ginger is quickly dry-fried resulting in a complex, intense flavor.” The journey of this recipe is interesting to me, how technology has enabled it to move quickly from it’s Asian origins to a Seattle dining room to a Texas home kitchen, how the contexts in which food is made and eaten can change so rapidly, but the real question here, I believe, is how was the beef?
It was good. Maybe a bit too spicy and lacking in two or three ingredients due to user error, but overall, very tasty. It was a perfect way to use up some too-tough grass-fed sirloin that’s been in the freezer. I had to make a trip to Fiesta to get some of the ingredients: fish sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil, but the rest of the ingredients were easy enough to find. We didn’t get Chinese Five Spice powder (Fiesta didn’t have it and then we forgot about it), which resulted in hasty scrambling to make a homemade version. We ended up using regular ground pepper, star anise ground in the pepper mill, powdered cinnamon and cloves, and dill to substitute for the fennel. It’s very pungent and I’m interested to find the real thing. We marinated the strips of beef in a ziploc bag for an hour before searing in a hot pan with a little oil. The end result was very good, but a little too spicy. Next time we’ll cut the red pepper flake amount in half. Also, I forgot to add the basil and peanuts to the meat. They probably add a little something else, but the flavor was very bold and interesting without them. Sliced green and red onions and bean sprouts added some color and variety. Making the marinade was the most difficult part of this dish, I thought actual cooking was fast and easy. The marinade would be great for dressing up regular steaks if you were so inclined. Now that we have the ingredients, we’ll definitely try it again.