Yesterday I planned to make a Thai green curry of beef and broccoli. But when I got my ingredients together, the green curry paste was growing hairs and the broccoli had turned yellow. So a quick rethink was called for - I had mushrooms, spring onions and ginger in the fridge so I decided to make a quick stir-fry.
However, the thick stalk of the broccoli was still firm and healthy looking, so Mark wanted to use it (he's got a bit of a thing for broccoli stalks), and he peeled the outer skin off and sliced it into thick rounds.
Normally I would have parboiled the chunks of stalk, or anything that big and firm, before stir frying, but time was getting on so I decided to chuck them straight in. I stir fried them along with the spring onions for a couple of minutes, added the beef, stir fried again until it was browned, splashed in some wine and then stock and let it all cook for a few minutes (recipe after the photos) but I still expected the broccoli stalks to be too firm to eat.
To my surprise, they came out exactly the texture of water chestnuts - and they were roughly the same size and shape too. I always feel water chestnuts don't have much flavour, but these "water chestnuts" had a lovely brassica tang that worked beautifully in the stir fry. A tin of water chestnuts is usually too much for two of us - the broccoli stalk was just the right amount, and all made from something that would otherwise have been thrown away!
Of course you could use them in any dish where water chestnuts are needed, but here's my recipe:
Stir fried beef with broccoli "water chestnuts" (serves 2)
150g frying steak, thinly sliced and marinated with 1 tsp cornflour, 1 tbs light soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil for 10 minutes
6-8 spring onions, sliced into 1 cm diagonal pieces
small knob of root ginger, thinly sliced or shredded
"water chestnuts" made from 1-2 heads of broccoli
100g mushrooms, wiped and thinly sliced
1 tbs peanut or sunflower oil
200ml beef stock
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
1 rounded tsp cornflour, blended with a little of the stock
Heat the oil in a wok and stir fry the spring onions, ginger and "water chestnuts" together until the onions start to soften, then add the beef and fry until browned. Make sure the wok is very hot then throw in the wine - the sudden cloud of steam as it evaporates when it hits the pan will help the vegetables to cook through. Add the mushrooms and the soy sauce and mix well, then pour in the stock and cook for 2-3 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and cooked. Add the blended cornflour, stir until thickened and serve - I served it over Basmati rice.
Since my "water chestnuts" are effectively FREE and are made from something normally thrown away, as well as adding extra flavour and bulk to an already economical meal, I'm joining in with Credit Crunch Munch and the No Waste Food Challenge
Credit Crunch Munch is hosted at Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All
The No Waste Food Challenge is at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary