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Spicy Black Bean Beef with Thai Basil and Jasmine Rice

Spicy Black Bean Beef with Thai Basil and Jasmine Rice
Thai or holy basil, which begins to appear in farmers' markets in late spring and early summer, has distinctive deep purple stems, dark green leaves and lavender blossoms. Its aniselike flavor is more perfumed and less tart than that of Italian basil and is best enjoyed raw. (If unavailable, substitute purple or Italian basil.) If you like, stir in 1-inch pieces of cooked asparagus or broccoli florets just before serving.

Ingredients:

For the black bean sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. fermented black beans
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, 1 1/2 inches long,
      peeled and minced
  • 2 Tbs. dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. beef top sirloin, about 1 inch thick, sliced
      paper-thin across the grain
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped or snipped fresh Thai basil

Directions:

To make the black bean sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the black beans, garlic, ginger, sherry and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a bowl large enough to hold the beef, combine the 2 tsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. sherry, cornstarch, sugar and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Stir until well mixed, then add the beef and stir to coat evenly. Pour 1 Tbs. of the peanut oil over the beef and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the beef is marinating, cook the rice. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tsp. salt and the rice. When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is tender and the water has been fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

About 5 minutes before the rice is ready, in a wok or large, deep fry pan over high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. When the oil is very hot, add the beef and its marinade, and toss and stir until the meat has changed color but is still pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the black bean mixture and continue to toss and stir just until the meat is barely cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Stir in half of the basil.
.
To serve, mound the rice in a serving bowl or divide evenly among individual bowls or plates and top with the beef. Garnish with the remaining basil.
Serves 3 or 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Cooking from the Farmers' Market, by Georgeanne Brennan (Time-Life Books, 1999).