Chinese ‘fake-away’

beef stirfry 2

I went swimming after work today, and as Dave plays badminton on Mondays (we aren’t really as sporty as this makes us sound), we were both due to get home around 7pm, so I’d planned a really quick and easy meal – beef stirfry.

The main problem with stirfries is that they don’t fill Dave up and to be honest aren’t really his favourite thing.  While I was swimming, I was mulling over my options for jazzing the meal up when I hit on a solution that also had the happy side benefit of using the rest of the beansprouts (and you all know how much I hate waste!) – serving a Chinese-inspired hot and sour soup as a starter.

It turned out the highlight of the meal.  Next time, I’d thicken it more, and I’ve reflected that in the recipe below by doubling the cornflour I used.  I split into three (too-big) portions and kept back some for tomorrow, but it could easily do four as small starter portions – you could add a little more sweetcorn and/or a little of another veg (finely sliced mushrooms would go well) if you did want to bulk it out slightly.

hot and sour soup

Hot and Sour Soup (3-4 starter portions) 22-27p per portion

  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes 4p
  • 1/4 batch or packet pickled ginger, sliced and vinegar reserved 8p
  • Chicken stock to well cover (homemade from bones, so counting as free)
  • 1/3 bag beansprouts 17p
  • 1 egg, beaten 23p
  • 2 tsp cornflour 4p
  • 80g frozen sweetcorn 8p
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 13p
  • 1 spring onion, sliced on the diagonal (optional) 9p

Add the beansprouts, chilli, sliced ginger (but not the vinegar), soy sauce, chicken stock and frozen sweetcorn to a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer until the beansprouts and sweetcorn are tender, then pour the egg in, stirring well, so the egg cooks in fine ribbons.  Mix the cornflour with a tablespoon of the reserved vinegar and pour in.  Cook for another couple of minutes until thickened.  Serve in small bowls as a starter and garnish with the sliced spring onion.

I’m pretty happy I managed to get a starter out of some beansprouts I’d have otherwise thrown out and some store-cupboard ingredients, and 20p per head is quite a bit cheaper than getting a starter from the takeaway, too.

Beef Stirfry (serves 2) £2.03 per portion

  • 1 225g rump steak, sliced thinly £2.50
  • 2/3 bag beansprouts 33p
  • 2/3 courgette 22p
  • 2 spring onions 18p
  • 2 nests egg noodles 43p
  • 4 tbsp chicken stock (homemade so counting as free)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed 6p
  • Tablespoonful pickled ginger, sliced, or small lump fresh ginger, grated 4p
  • 2 tsp cornflour 4p
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce 13p
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil 2p
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil 10p

beef stirfry

Add the sliced steak to a bowl along with the sesame oil, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp cornflour.  Leave to marinade for 10 minutes or so – I left it while finishing off and eating the soup.

Cook the noodles as per packet directions (mine needed boiled for a few minutes).  Mix the chicken stock and rest of the soy sauce and cornflour and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan until very hot.  Add the steak to the pan and sear, turning as required and taking it out when just done or still slightly pink in the middle.  Add the courgette and beansprouts to the pan and stirfry for a 3-4 minutes until tender.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue to stirfry for another minute.

Put the beef back in the pan, along with the mixed sauce, noodles and spring onions.  Cook for another minute or two, until the sauce has thickened slightly, and serve immediately.

The vegetarian stirfry I posted was under £1 a head, which shows how much more expensive it is to add meat to meals!  It was nice though.


2 thoughts on “Chinese ‘fake-away’

  1. Karen

    I love stirfrys but my lot are not so keen on them but funnily enough, quite enjoy it when they are tucking in. I think that’s a great idea to use up the rest of the beansprouts. I ALWAYS have half a bagful left so I’m going to try your soup next time I make stirfry.
    Thanks for the recipe

    1. Jess Post author

      I know, I love beansprouts & feel they kind of ‘make’ the stirfry but rarely buy them because I hate wasting them! Wish they lasted a bit longer but now I’ll definitely just use them up to make soup. Hopefully your family will like it!


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