Drunken beef and green beans

Some things in the kitchen are just meant to be. I’m not sure I believe in fate in most cases, but I do believe in fate in the form of kitchen tools. It probably has more to do with my reluctance to buy things for myself than the will of the universe bringing me kitchen gadgets, but just go with it.


I recently finished reading Julia Child’s “My Life in Paris” (part of a personal challenge I issued myself to read one non-fiction book each month this year). The book covers an important part of Julia’s life: the time she spent discovering and falling in love with French food. The stories within are incredibly detailed and one in particular focused on Julia’s desire for a enormous mortar and pestle. When she found the right one, her poor husband was tasked with lugging the beast through the largest market in Paris.


This and many other cooking narratives were swirling through my mind for most of July. And I think it’s partially to blame for my quick love affair with a much smaller mortar and pestle that Hubster and I stumbled across at a local antique mall. It didn’t take much of my normal consideration (What’s the price? Does this booth have a sale? Will I use it enough? Do we have space to store it? Will I really use it?) before Hubster was lugging my own mortar and pestle to the car.


When I sat down to write my menu for the next shopping trip, the first recipe I flipped to in the Cooking Light annual tome on my lap was Drunken Stir-Fried Beef with Green Beans, a recipe I’d eyed before but kept skipping due to my lack of a mortar and pestle. Kitchen fate, right? Ok… maybe not, but it was a good enough reason for this recipe to make my list.


Has anyone else had kitchen encounters that can be chalked up to fate? Even if you haven’t, are there any new tools in your arsenal that are making cooking easier and more enjoyable?



Drunken Beef and Green Beans
Adapted from Cooking Light’s Drunken Stir-Fried Beef with Green Beans

½ tsp kosher salt
7 garlic cloves
½ medium jalapeno
1 tsp ginger paste
1 lemon
1 lime

2 cups rice or noodles
1 cups fresh green beans
½  cup cherry tomatoes
½ cup basil leaves
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 lb flank steak
Cooking spay 

Prepare rice or noodles according to package directions. Wash and trim green beans into 1 inch pieces. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook beans for 5 minutes or until tender crisp. Drain and rinse beans in cold water.

Meanwhile, quarter cherry tomatoes and set aside. Slice basil leaves and set aside.

Mince garlic and place in mortar and pestle with salt. Finely mince jalapeno and set aside. Pound garlic and salt to form a paste. Add minced pepper and continue pounding until incorporated. Add ginger and incorporate. Juice lemon to get 1 Tbsp and add to paste. Grate lime to get 1 tsp and add to paste. Mix/pound until incorporated. Scrape paste into a small bowl so it’s easy to add to the stir fry when the time comes.

Combine sugar, fish sauce and vinegar in a small bowl. Slice flank steak into thin strips. Ready all ingredients near stove and coat a large skillet or wok with cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add paste and stir fry for 30 seconds, being careful not to get the fumes in your eyes. Add beef and stir fry for about 3 minutes or until nearly cooked. Add beans, tomatoes and fish sauce mixture. Stir fry for 1 minute or until beef is cooked through. Stir in basil. Divide rice/noodles into two bowls and top with beef mixture.

Notes: If you like spicy dishes look for a serrano chile as suggested in the original recipe and use 2 ½ teaspoons or just top your portion with Sriracha sauce.

Lisa - August 24, 2011 - 3:17 am

This looks so good. And the cherry blossom bites below? Seriously, Heather. ;) I also want to know if you enjoyed Julia’s Life in France book? Would you recommend it?

hhawes - August 24, 2011 - 2:41 pm

I loved My Life in France and would highly recommend it if you’re at all interested in Julia Child. In fact, if we can drag you to St. Louis sometime you’re welcome to borrow my copy :)

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