Many of my friends and relatives enjoyed reading about my grandmother. So I am going to share another story about her today. In a society that valued collectivism, my grandmother was quite an unique individual. She could get away with it because she often laugh at herself. Having lived through so much trial and tribulation, she took herself lightly, but she never went with the crowd.
During the mid to late 80s in China, when people had relatives from America, it was customary to bring television sets, refrigerators or other electrical appliances when they visit. These American brand appliances were important status symbol to any person or family. After I began acting in films and television, I had enough money to bring her the TV set or the refrigerator, but she didn’t want them. She said there was not much on TV that she cared to watch. And she already had a small Chinese made refrigerator. “I am making money now,” I said. “I must bring you something.” “Bring me some cheese then,” she brightened, “I haven’t had cheese for so long. Blue cheese, the stronger the flavor the better. And I heard that they made bras that fasten in the front. It would be nice to have some bras that fasten in the front.” I told her that I would get these, but I insisted that these were not enough. “If you insist,” she added a little sheepishly, “bring me a black wig, with a little wave in it. I’m getting too grey and too bald.”
She was almost 80 years old at the time. Most women her age during that era in China didn’t pay much attention to their appearance. I was quite surprised by her vanity.
It was priceless to see my grandmother wearing a wavy black wig while savoring the most pungent blue cheese.
For many years, she would wear her present and wait for me by the window whenever I visited her in Shanghai.
Sichuan Orange Beef
8 oz. beef sirloin, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp Season with Spice’s Sichuan Peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (optional)
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
2-3 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
For the marinade:
Juice from one orange (about 1/3 cup*)
Zest from one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp fresh ginger – minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
In a bowl, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Add in the beef and coat well. Leave to marinate for 15 to 30 minutes in the fridge.
Heat a wok on high fire. Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil, and swirl to coat. Toss in the crushed Sichuan peppercorns and do a few quick stirs until fragrant. Add in the beef, but keep the leftover marinade to the side. Pour in Shaoxing wine if using. Let sear for 1-2 minutes until slightly charred, then do a few quick stirs. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the wok, add in bell pepper, jalapeno and the white parts of the scallions, stir until tender.
Add the beef back in the wok.
Keep the heat on high, add in the leftover marinade, and toss to coat all the ingredients. When the sauce starts to simmer, stir in the scallion greens and toasted sesame oil. Dish out and serve immediately with rice.
Adapted from Rasamalaysia