Tat-tat-taaaat-tat-tat-taaaat-tat! That, my friends, is the beautiful sing-song sound of Chef Martin Yan’s cleaver as he chops bok choy. In fact, everything about Martin is musical, from the lyrical harmony of his Chinese accent (yes, it’s real – I asked) to the way he rhythmically pulses the food processor. Brrrrrr-brr.brr-brrrrr.
I met Martin Yan last week at his special class held at Aprons cooking school, and it really was a childhood dream come true. When I was kid, I watched “Yan Can Cook.” Back then, in the 80’s, it was a big deal to me, not for the cooking aspect of the show, but because he was Chinese, with a thick accent, starring in his very own show on television. He created an entire brand empire around his kung fu-esque knife action and very funny, punny jokes.
But, putting showmanship aside, he gave the class very useful cooking tips:
- Tsingtao beer is great for steaming mussels
- If you;re running low on Hoisin sauce, just add a bit of soy sauce, sugar and Sriracha hot sauce to the bottle, close and shake to mix
- Don’t waste leftover bits of vegetables, seafood or meat -chop them up and simmer in canned chicken broth for an instant soup
- Deep-fried chiffonade strips of bok choy leaves makes a crisp, nutty and sweet topping for a stir-fry
You know what though, I don’t think I can fully express my admiration for the Yan man in words. I mean, this is the guy who’s hosted over 2,000 cooking shows, authored 28 cookbooks, carves a chicken in 18 seconds flat and minces a garlic clove in a split-second, single-handed thwack. He’s totally my kitchen super-hero and get this, he mentioned writing a blurb for the back of my cookbook! He showed me where Jackie Chan had blurbed the back of his book and called him a “man of perpetual motion.” And yes, he is.
Oh, please excuse that whoosh of air. That’s just silly me sucking up.
To see Martin in action – watch a video of him carving a chicken in 18 seconds!
Asian Pan Seared Steak Rolls Recipe
Recipe adapted from Martin Yan's China Cookbook.
8 ounces flank steak (4 inch x 6 inch piece) or 8 thin sliced sirloin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
freshly ground pepper
FOR THE SAUCE
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup canned chicken broth
FOR THE FILLING
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 carrot, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
½ red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
2 ribs celery, sliced thin on diagonal
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
12 chives, cut into 3 inches long
4 ounces enoki mushrooms
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons butter
¼ teaspoon sesame seeds
Freeze steak for 30 minutes until partially frozen. Slice steak against the grain, on the diagonal, into 8 equally thin pieces. Use a meat mallet to pound each piece of meat to 1/8 inch thick. If using thin sliced sirloin, skip this step.
Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and add meat slices. Let stand 15 minutes to 2 hours.
In a separate bowl, combine sauce ingredients.
To prepare filling, heat a wok or skillet over high heat. When hot, add vegetable oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds. Add carrot, bell pepper, celery and stir fry for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and stir. Transfer to bowl and let cool.
To make the beef rolls, lay beef slices out with short side facing you. Equally divide chives, enoki mushrooms and vegetable mixture among the pieces of meat. Roll the beef up, over the filling and secure with toothpick.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and butter, swirling to coat bottom. When hot, add beef rolls, seam side down, not touching and pan fry for 1 minute, turn roll. Add sauce to the pan. Cover and simmer over medium heat until beef is just cooked through, 1-2 minutes. Remove toothpick, sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.