Land of Plenty – Boiled Beef and Cookbook Challenge

April 11, 2009 · 9 comments

in atlanta, cooking at Home, recipes

If you read the last post in the Land of Plenty series, you’ll know that I stopped the post halfway through that meal, and there were promises that this post would be filled with boiled beef, excitement, and grandeur.

The Boiled Beef Slices in a Fiery Sauce was damn good indeed, but the excitement part may be a bit of an overstatement.

Regardless, using my intensely amazing internet skills (as well as the Contact form on Fuchsia Dunlop’s blog), I inquired about posting a few recipes from the cookbook, and within one day the publisher (W.W. Norton & Company) let me know I could do so!

I recently read an interesting post by David Lebovitz regarding copyright and Recipe Attribution issues, so this is why I decided to try to get official permission. It appears that there are a handful of ways to somewhat post a recipe without entering into copyright protection issues, such as changing a few of the recipe’s ingredients. Reprinting the recipe exactly as it appears in the cookbook, however, is clearly infringement if you do not have permission.

So I’m proud to offer you the recipe exactly as it appears in the cookbook, and would like to thanks W.W. Norton & Company and Ms. Dunlop for allowing me to share this recipe with you.

In addition! The other announcement is that in honor of the publisher being kind and answering a lowly blogger like me, I’m going to give away two Land of Plenty cookbooks to the first two Eat It, Atlanta readers that contact me. This promotion wipes out my ad revenue for the last two months, but the goal of this site has never been to make money, but to further my abilities and interest in cooking/eating/dining, as well as those of the people who are interested enough to check this site out every once in a while.

On that note, here’s “the catch”. If you ask for the cookbook, you will be required to cook one meal from this cookbook, sourcing all the proper ingredients, cooking exactly as directed, photographing every step of the way, and you have to send the pictures/write-up to me with permission to post everything on this site.

Up to the challenge? Contact me.

Update 4/13/2009 – We have our two challengers – Sarah E. and Ted S. I look forward to seeing the results of their exploits.

Boiled Beef Slices in a Fiery Sauce

From Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop
Copyright © 2001 by Fuchsia Dunlop
Recipe appears courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Purchase Land of Plenty on Amazon

Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 with rice and two or three other dishes

1 head of celery (about 1 pound)
4 scallions, white and green parts
a small handful of dried chiles (8-10 chiles)
about 1 pound lean beef (flank steak is good)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
about 1/3 cup peanut oil
2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper
3 tablespoons chili bean paste
3 cups everyday stock (see page 318) or chicken stock
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
4 tablespoons potato flour mixed with 4 tablespoons cold water, or 6 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water

1 Clean and remove the fibrous outer edge of the celery stalks. Chop each stalk into 3 or 4 sections, then slice these lengthwise into 1/2-inch sticks. Gently crush the scallions and chop them into 3 sections to match the celery. Wearing rubber gloves, snip the chiles in half, discarding as many seeds as possible. Remove any fat from the beef and cut it, against the grain, into thin slices about 1 inch by 2 inches (you should have about 3/4 pound of beef after trimming). Add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the Shaoxing rice wine, mix well, and leave to marinate while you prepare everything else.

2 Heat 3 tablespoon of oil in a wok until hot but not yet smoking. Add the chiles and Sichuan pepper and stir-fry until they are fragrant and the chiles are just beginning to brown (take care not to burn them). Then immediately slide the spices out into a bowl, leaving the oil in the wok. When they have cooled down a little, move them onto a cutting board and chop them finely with a gentle rocking motion, using a cleaver taken in both hands or a two-handled chopper. Set them aside to use later.

3 Return the oily wok to the stove and heat over a high flame. When it is smoking, add the vegetables and stir-fry for a minute or two, adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt to taste, until they are hot and just-cooked but still crunchy. Then pour them into the serving bowl.

4 Heat another 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok over a high flame, until just beginning to smoke. Turn the heat down to medium, add in the chili bean paste, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until the oil is red and fragrant. Add the stock and the dark soy sauce, season to taste with salt, and return to a boil over a high flame. Then add the potato flour or cornstarch mixture to the beef and stir well in one direction to coat all the pieces. When the sauce is boiling vigorously, drop in the beef slices. Wait for the sauce to return to a boil and then use a pair of chopsticks to gently separate the slices. Simmer for a minute or so, until the beef is just cooked, and then spoon it onto the waiting vegetables. Pour over the sauce.

5 Swiftly rinse out the wok and dry it well. Heat another 3-4 tablespoons of oil in the wok until smoking. Sprinkle the chopped chiles and Sichuan pepper over the beef dish and then pour over the smoking oil, which will sizzle dramatically. If you move quickly, the dish will still be fizzing when you bring it to the table.


I used flank steak as specified, but it was quite thick and I had to smack it with the mallet for quite a while. The pieces were still thicker than I would have liked.


Be sure to get your mise en place ready, including the potato starch/water mixture. Once you start cooking, this whole process takes 5 minutes or so.


You start by creating the garnish of red chiles and Sichuan pepper. I’m beginning to really love the smell of sautéed Sichuan pepper in peanut oil.


Stir-fry the vegetables.


At this point I’ve created the sauce and am boiling the beef.



I really liked this dish, and I was very proud of it. The texture of the meat was awesome, purposely soft and tender, juxtaposed against the crunchy vegetables, all in a tasty and not overly spicy sauce.


My terracotta soldier loved it.

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  • Looks awesome!

  • Fiona

    Sounds delicious!

  • Tim

    So do you eat it like a soup, or leave the sauce behind? Either way, it looks great!

  • Jimmy

    You leave the sauce behind. The sauce is tasty but drinking it could be hazardous to your health!

  • Pingback: Land of Plenty – Challenger #1 | Eat It, Atlanta()

  • That’s awesome. I have that book too but I haven’t ventured far into the book at alllll… I wish there were more photos of the food IN the book… but I am soooo thankful that you posted your cooking process, I did so too on my xanga blog haa
    Thanks a lot!! Now i know what to expect from her boiled beef slices in a fiery sauce recipe! It doesn’t look spicy! Was it spicy? BTW, realyl nice photos and I love your WOK!! so “handy”! ^-^

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  • Kim

    I know this is 3 years after your original post but I just had to say thanks for posting the recipe and the pictures — we made this tonight and really enjoyed it. I need to get this cookbook!

  • I ate the sauce – it was mostly chicken stock. 

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