Like rays of sunlight, citrus brightens just about any food it touches, observed a local chef quoted in this week’s A la Carte.
Once the weather is reliably warm and sunny, it’s easy to forget that the citrus season is waning. So with citrus at its best, now is the time for capturing its essence in curds, marmalades, chutneys, vinegars and more, as explained in this week’s story.
At least a dozen recipes await participants in Tuesday’s class at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center. And a rainbow of citrus fruits will be represented, promised Master Food Preservers teaching the class.
Harboring no fewer than a half-dozen types of citrus for the past week in my refrigerator, I immediately ponder uses for the zest before peeling the fruit. Clementine zest acidified a salad of white beans and fennel, along with the fruit’s sections, that I recently prepared. And since I’ve found a reliable source for Meyer lemons at Food 4 Less, their juice and zest are no-brainers in everything from beverages to desserts.
Common oranges are cited for this recipe, perfect for Chinese New Year, when citrus fruits often are bestowed and consumed for good fortune. But tangerines, tangelos, mandarins and the like could be substituted.
Slightly freezing the meat strips, according to recipe testers for Tribune News Service, makes them fry up crisp and crunchy, while still staying tender inside.
Crispy Orange Beef
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
6 tablespoons cornstarch
10 (3-inch) strips orange peel, sliced thin lengthwise (1/4 cup), plus 1/2 cup juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
3 cups vegetable oil
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons peeled and grated, fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 scallions, thinly sliced on bias
Cut the beef with grain into 2- to 3-inch-wide pieces. Slice each piece against grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut each slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. In a bowl, toss beef with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Add the cornstarch and toss until evenly coated. Spread beef in a single layer on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Put sheet in freezer until meat is very firm but not completely frozen, for about 45 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk together the orange juice, molasses, sherry, vinegar, sesame oil and remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
Line a second, rimmed baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Heat the oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until oil registers 375 F. Carefully add 1/3 of beef and fry, stirring occasionally to keep beef from sticking, until golden-brown, for about 1 1/2 minutes. Using a wire-mesh skimmer, transfer meat to paper towel-lined sheet. Return oil to 375 F and repeat with remaining beef. After frying, reserve 2 tablespoons frying oil.
Heat reserved oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the orange peel and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until about half of orange peel is golden-brown, for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to brown, for about 45 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture and cook, scraping up any brown bits, until slightly thickened, for about 45 seconds. Add beef and the scallions; toss. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
— Recipe from “Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book” (America’s Test Kitchen, 2014, $40).