Tender beef, sweet clementines, greens, red pepper, sweet onion, and cashews bathe in a flavorful sauce of sesame, ginger, garlic, rice wine and mirin, tamari, and sriracha in this simple Beef, Clementine, and Tuscan Kale Stir-Fry.
I have a lifetime of memories associated with food after 42 years loving my time in the kitchen. I guess that makes me old. 😯 One of my favorite memories is of my Grandma Cecil expressing her excitement at the “stir and fry” that I promised to make when she came for dinner. Grandma was an amazing cook, but her roots were in Oklahoma and New Mexico, and her food was farm fresh and southern! Asian cooking held a certain fascination to her, and I always knew what she’d like to have for dinner when I was blessed to have her…
Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.
~~ Guy de Maupassant, French writer 1850-1893
Stir-fried dishes really are my “go to” for a healthy, weeknight meal. My well-stocked pantry and knowledge of flavor profiles makes it so easy. I stock a very wide variety of Asian ingredients – tamari, sesame oil, good rice wine, mirin, ginger, garlic, sriracha, etc. For whatever reason, I had not had a good day, and while I don’t normally mind an early evening trip to the market, I just didn’t feel like going that day. Given that I had half a bag of clementines (needing to be used), half of a large tub of fresh baby spinach in the refrigerator, and 12 ounces of lean beef sirloin in the freezer, I was confident in skipping the market and running with a stir-fry. We’re still getting lots of lovely citrus in McAllen, so I had been toying with the idea of a beef and citrus stir-fry for quite some time. The combination did not disappoint!
When I made this a second time (in a week!) to refine the recipe, and shoot photos, I took a bit of a risk and substituted Tuscan (lacinato/dyno) kale that I’d picked up at our fabulous farmers market… The slight bitterness of the greens with the sweetness of the clementines, and the tender beef was even better than the spinach I’d used previously. Hard to imagine, huh? I love a variety of colors, textures, and flavors in a dish, and this specific combination is a winner! Choose a lean cut of beef like sirloin or flank steak. 16 ounces is plenty for 4 servings, and this is a great way to enjoy beef occasionally when following a healthy lifestyle.
My work flow goes like this: Whisk the beef marinade together, thin slice the beef, and add it to the marinade. Start the jasmine rice. Prep the clementines, red bell pepper, greens (if necessary), and sweet onion. Heat the oils in a very hot wok, using a spider (or slotted spoon) drain the beef, and add to the very hot wok. Stir-fry the beef until slightly under-cooked (some red remaining), and remove from the wok using the spider. It will finish cooking with the sauce, and results in more tender beef. Lean beef is easily dried out.
Wipe the wok with a paper towel, and add a bit more oil. Stir-fry the kale first if using it – 3 to 4 minutes. If using spinach, add it last (after the sauce), and stir it in until it wilts. The red pepper and onion can go into the wok at about the same time, and need 2-3 minutes. While vegetables stir-fry, whisk the tamari, beef broth, corn starch, and sriracha into the remaining marinade. Pour it over the vegetables, add the beef back in, add the clementines (and spinach if using), and give it all a good stir. Serve this delightful stir-fry over jasmine or basmati rice, and garnish with toasted cashews. It’s so good, and really can be in your mouth in 30 minutes! 😀
Beef, Clementine, and Tuscan Kale Stir-Fry
- zest and juice of 2 clementines or 1 orange or tangerine*
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1/4 cup rice wine
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated or minced
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil divided use
- 1 pound lean beef trimmed of fat, sliced very thin*
- 1 bunch lacinto kale or 5 ounces baby spinach*
- 4 small clementines or other small seedless tangerines peeled and sectioned*
- 1 red bell pepper julienned
- 1 medium sweet onion such as vidalia, sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable canola, or peanut oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1/3 cup beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tamari *
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons roasted cashews
- To a medium prep bowl, add the zest and citrus juice, mirin, rice wine, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Whisk together. Add the thin-sliced beef.
- Start your rice (takes 20 minutes).
- Prep the clementines and vegetables.
- Heat a wok over high heat. Add a +/- oil. Using a spider or slotted spoon, add the marinaded beef (with most of the marinade remaining in the bowl) to the hot wok. Stir fry until almost cooked (1 to 2 minutes depending on heat level). Remove beef and juices to a clean bowl, and set aside.
- Whisk the sriracha, beef broth, tamari, and corn starch into the remaining marinade
- Wipe the wok out with a paper towel if necessary, add a bit more vegetable oil and the remaining teaspoon of sesame oil. If using kale, start with the kale first. If using spinach, add last. Stir-fry the kale 3 to 4 minutes before adding the red bell pepper and sweet onion. Stir-fry 2 to 3 additional minutes, add the beef back in, pour the sauce over, and stir well to combine.
- Add the clementines and spinach (if using). Stir to incorporate.
- Serve the stir-fry on a bed of rice, and garnish with toasted cashews.
You'll want to stick with a very small tangerine or orange for the stir-fry. If you use something larger, you may want to cut the sections into manageable bite-sized pieces. For the marinade, any orange or tangerine is fine.
I choose a lean cut of beef for this due to dietary concerns. Sirloin and flank are great options. Use a sharp knife to trim any fat. Also, a partially frozen piece of meat is far easier to trim and slice thin!
As I mentioned in the post, I've done this with Tuscan kale and with baby spinach. We loved both, but the kale edged out the spinach. We liked the bitterness against the sweet citrus. You could probably use chard as well, though I've not tried it. Keep in mind the time your chosen greens need to cook, and add them to the dish accordingly. Kale that is young doesn't need the ribs removed if it is stir-fried for several minutes. Also, the leaves are more robust that spinach.
Tamari is made from miso, and is typically gluten free and has more depth. Soy sauce is a fine substitute. If you don't have mirin (sweetened rice wine), you can substitute a teaspoon of honey or brown sugar, or omit entirely. If you don't have rice wine, dry sherry is a good substitute.
Macro Nutrients (Stir-Fry only, from MyFitnessPal): 453 calories; 27 g protein, 26 g fat, 27 g carbohydrates