Beef and Broccoli on a Bird's Nest

This stir-fried dish, based on a recipe of Barbara Tropp (substituting dried red chili flakes for oyster sauce), is served in a nest made from fried bean threads. Don't hesitate to try it - it's not very difficult, but it tends to be messy, so organize your cooking area, and clean the splashed oil as quickly as possible. It's well worth the extra trouble. Serve with a light fruit dish for dessert.

Ingredients (Beef in Marinade)

Ingredients (Broccoli, Nest, and Stir-fry)

Mix the beef marinade ingredients and slice the beef. Stir together and put in the refrigerator several hours or up to a day or if you are in a hurry, leave 1 hour at room temperature. I use either a very sharp chef's knife to slice the beef, or I use the food processor fitted with the 3 mm. slicing blade (be sure the beef is nearly frozen). Cut the noodles into 3-4 inch pieces by putting them into a paper bag and cutting them with a sharp kitchen shears. Fry the noodle nest by heating 3-4 cups oil in a deep pot or wok, adding the bean thread pieces all at once. They will immediately explode into a white "nest." Turn the nest over in the oil to briefly cook the second side. Remove immediately and drain on paper towels. Cut the broccoli flowerets in half. Peel the broccoli stems and slice thinly.
Loosen beef slices in marinade. Prepare a serving platter (choose pleasing colors, and arrange the noodle nest in the middle). Heat a wok until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water. Add 3 T. oil; coat pan. Stir-fry broccoli for 30 seconds. Sprinkle with salt and sugar, toss to coat. Sprinkle wine in pan, wait a second or two, and add water. Stir to coat, raise the heat to simmer, cover pan, and cook 3-4 minutes. Raise heat to evaporate water, and remove broccoli to bowl to keep warm. Wipe the wok clean. Return the wok to high heat. Add 3 T. oil, and heat until hot enough to sizzle one speck of ginger. Add ginger and chili, and cook 10 seconds. Add beef, toss quickly. When beef is nearly done, add water, stir, and remove from heat.
Distribute broccoli on nest, arranging flowerets to face outwards. Mound beef in center of broccoli. Leftover beef and broccoli are good, but discard leftover noodles. Serves 4.
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