Mike’s Firecracker Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Scallion

Firecracker Beef with Broccoli and Scallion


This Asian recipe can be quite hot – adjust the chilies according to your preference. Your wok must reach a temperature hot enough to quickly sear the steak and flash-fry the vegetables. I’ve found that cooking indoors on a stove just doesn’t accomplish this task. A charcoal grill and a cast-iron wok are perfect.
I use prime cuts of New York strip steak to ensure optimum flavor and tenderness.

Enjoy – this recipe is killer.


1 10-oz. New York strip steak
10 small dry Thai chilies
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar

1 head broccoli, trimmed
10 fresh market green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
4 scallions, trimmed and quartered, then split lengthwise
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced into 1/2″ strips
1 large carrot, peeled and quartered, then cut into thin planks

2 cups beef broth
2 tbs. corn starch

2 cups 5-minute rice, cooked according to package directions
Peanut oil


Using a very sharp knife, trim the steak of excess fat. Cut into 1/4″ strips against the grain. Cut in half if the length of each strip is too long. Whisk the brown sugar and soy sauce in a small mixing bowl. Place steak in a 1-qt. ziplock bag with the soy sauce mixture, garlic and hot Thai chilies. Seal and let stand for 3 hours in your refrigerator. Rotate occasionally.

Wash, prep and cut all of your veggies so you have them ready. Allow all ingredients to stand at room temperature before cooking.

Prepare an outdoor charcoal gril with enough coal for a medium-hot fire. When the coals are white hot, place the wok on the grill grate. Do not spread out the coals – you will need the heat concentrated directly under the wok so the steak sears properly. Allow the wok to heat until a drop of water vaporizes immediately on contact.

Add 2 tbs. peanut oil to the wok and swirl to coat. When the oil starts to ripple, add the green beans, carrot and pepper and stir for about 5 minutes until just crisp-tender. Remove from heat and place in a covered serving bowl.

Remove the steak and chilies from the ziplock bag and add to the wok. Discard the soy sauce. Spread out and let sear for three minutes. Turn with a non-stick spatula and let sit another three minutes. Remove from heat and place in the covered serving dish.

Add the beef broth and corn starch mixture to the wok. Stir constantly until thickened -about two minutes. Add the scallion. Stir. Add back the steak and other vegetables and stir until just heated through. Remove from the wok and serve immediately over rice.

Serves 2-4


Firecracker Steak Stir-Fry - prepping the ingredients

Prepping the ingredients.

Firecracker Steak with Stir-Fry Veggies

Flash-frying the veggies.

Firecracker Beef with Stir-Fried Hot Asian Chilies

Adding the steak and chili peppers.

Sesame Chicken with Ginger and Scallion

I experimented with refining this recipe after reviewing three different versions – the main basis being Chef Tyler Florence’s dish featured on Food Network. With all due respect, Tyler’s has way too much sodium and sugar, and is overpowered by the sesame oil in the sauce. This version finds a better balance for my taste – the rice vinegar and Chinese 5-spice adds a nice contrasting bite. My family cannot tolerate the spicy chilis that I love, so you’ll see those reserved here. Feel free to add them or hot Vietnamese chili sambal paste to the sauce in the last step if you need more heat.

This dish is truly Chinese-American. You will not see it featured in traditional Asian cookbooks. Enjoy!


30 oz. chicken breast (about 5 single fillets)
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1 green bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1″ chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
3 scallions, washed, trimmed and thin sliced

Hot, cooked white rice for serving

4 cups peanut oil for frying

1 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbs. rice vinegar
3 tbs. teriyaki sauce
3 tbs. soy sauce

2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs. rice vinegar
3 tbs. corn starch
1 tbs. honey
2 tbs. soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar


About three hours before dinner, thaw the chicken breasts if frozen, trim fat and cut into 1-inch chunks. Set aside in covered mixing bowl. Combine the liquid marinade ingredients, the chili flakes, white pepper, Chinese 5-spice powder and salt. Mix well with chicken pieces and let stand refrigerated for at least two hours. At the third hour, combine the flour, corn starch and baking powder and mix with chicken until evenly coated. Reserve the chicken on your counter so it warms up to room temperature. This is essential so the meat doesn’t splatter when it hits the wok.

Prepare the cut vegetables and set aside. Prepare the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Preheat your oven at 300 degrees and reserve a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.

When ready, heat a 14″ wok until blistering hot on your stovetop or outdoor grill. A drop of cold water should vaporize on contact when brought up to proper temperature. Slowly pour in the peanut oil – adding it to the sides of the wok so it doesn’t splatter. Cook the chicken in two batches, blot on paper towel and keep hot on the cookie sheet in the oven. (This ensures it will stay crisp when added to the sauce.)

Pour off all but two tbs. of the peanut oil. Place the wok back on the heat and quickly stir-fry the minced ginger and garlic for about thirty seconds. Do not let it scorch! Quickly add the chopped white onion and bell pepper and stir-fry until seared – about a minute.

Next, stir the sauce mixture in the mixing bowl to ensure the corn starch is dissolved. Slowly add the sauce mixture to the wok and stir-fry until it achieves a rolling boil and reduces to the proper thickness. Add the chicken back to the wok. Stir to incorporate with 3 tbs. toasted sesame seeds. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with sliced scallion and hot cooked white rice.

Serves 4

Must-have tools for this recipe: Chinese spider-strainer, two long-handled silicone spatulas.

Wisconsin Beer Batter for Fish

This is a great recipe for true Wisconsin-style battered fish. This recipe will work well for two pounds of fish – whether it be fresh-caught bluegills or walleye pike. You can also double the recipe, but make sure to mix in TWO separate bowls (don’t combine in one bowl) or it will not come out right. My choice for beer — Leinenkugel’s Red Lager.

Don’t forget to let the batter sit for one hour before using.


2 lbs. fish – your choice
1/2 cup flour
seasoned salt to taste
1 tbs. melted butter
2 eggs, beaten well
1/2 cup Wisconsin beer


Sift the flour and salt, add the butter and egg; add the beer gradually, stirring only until smooth.

Let stand for one hour at room temperature.

Dip fish in batter and fry in hot oil. Larger cuts of fish can be quartered into 2″ chunks for even cooking. Remove when golden-brown and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145° F.

Beer-Battered Cod & Chips

If you’ve never lived in Wisconsin, you’ve missed out on a perennial favorite… the venerable “Friday Fish Fry.” Nobody outside of this state will know what the hell you are talking about if you ask for one. A seasonal favorite served on Fridays before Easter. This recipe also works well with haddock.


4 large russet potatoes
3 quarts vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tsp. salt, divided
2 tsp. pepper, divided
2 tsp. garlic powder, divided
10 ounce ice cold English ale or club soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 pounds skinless, boneless cod or haddock fillets cut into 2 inch bite size pieces
Malt vinegar
Lemon wedges


Cut peeled potatoes in half lengthwise; cut each half lengthwise again into 1/2″ thick wedges, placing potatoes into ice water as you work. Soak 20 minutes to an hour and then drain and blot dry with paper towels. This removes the starch.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and pepper, and 1 tsp. garlic powder. Add the ale and mix until smooth. Fold in the beaten eggs. Set aside for 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are soaking, fill a deep fat fryer or 6 quart, heavy saucepan with oil to a depth of 5-6 inches. Using a frying thermometer, slowly heat oil to a temperature of 325F.

Fry half of the potatoes until they just begin to turn golden around the edges, about 4-5 minutes. Remove chips with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels in a single layer until cool to the touch; repeat with the remaining wedges, allowing oil temperature to return to 325F before adding more. Raise oil temperature to 360F and preheat oven to 250F.

Re-fry potatoes in 3-4 batches (this keeps the oil from cooling too much) moving them constantly until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Allow oil to return to 360F between batches. Remove from oil and drain; transfer to paper to drain again, place in a single layer on a baking sheet and keep warm in the preheated oven.

Season 5 to 6 pieces of fish with salt and pepper, dredge in seasoned flour (using remaining 1 tsp. salt, pepper and garlic powder) and dip into the batter. Allow excess batter to drip off and then slip carefully into the hot oil. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp, deeply golden brown and cooked through with a moist interior. Remove from oil, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Keep warm while frying remaining fish in batches.

Serve with salt, lemon and malt vinegar.

Serves: 4