Variety Is The Spice Of Life...

When I interviewed for my job, the CEO explained to me that his work philosophy runs something like: "If it ain't broke, break it, enjoy the mess you've made, then put things back together in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible." When he asked me if I could get on board with that, I said yes, and gave an example in the form of my approach to cooking. Even if I have an amazing recipe for a given dish (I believe I used brownies in my response, because it was the first thing to pop into my head, even though I've never had a brownie recipe that I was really satisfied with), I am always willing to try a different recipe, because there might be a new tip, trick, technique, or ingredient that will make my food that much better. I never rest on my laurels.

Needless to say, I got the job, and I continue to refuse to leave well-enough alone in my kitchen as well. Just last night, I tested a new stir-fry recipe, despite the fact that I have an incredible recipe for a beef and snow pea stir-fry that I have happily made over and over since we discovered it last year. Good as that one was, this one called for different vegetables, and I thought it might make for a nice change of pace.

Though it featured Brussels sprouts, which are far from being one of Justin's favorites, the dish also called for chiles and carrots, which I thought might appeal to him, in light of the fact that one of his main criticisms of our existing stir-fry routine is that it would be improved by the addition of more vegetables. I wasn't crazy about the thought of chiles, even though I don't mind spicy food all that much, but I figured I could always pick them out.

In terms of effort, I think this recipe was actually slightly less work despite the need to meticulously chop more veggies since it did not require the pan-frying of any noodles. That being said, those crispy, golden brown and delicious noodles are worth every extra moment of work and make our usual stir-fry the treat that it is. This one felt dull by comparison.

Plus, I did not care for the sauce in this new version. This version features rice vinegar, which was a bit too tart my palate. Each bite did not leave me craving the next, but rather indifferent to it. I had to compel myself to finish my plate so I wouldn't be hungry again later.

Really, the best part of the meal were the Brussels sprouts, and I can think of any number of ways I would rather eat those. For now, we will most definitely be sticking with our tried-and-true stir-fry favorite, but at least I can rest assured that it is the top recipe out there. There is no room for mediocre dishes in my repertoire.

Brussels Sprout and Steak Stir-Fry
adapted from Bon Appétit

3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
8 oz. flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain
Kosher salt
4 scallions, whites chopped, greens sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1 Fresno chile or jalapeño, sliced into rings
Steamed rice (for serving)

Whisk oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; wipe out skillet.

Season steak with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add steak in a single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds. Add to brussels sprouts.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, adjusting heat as needed. Add carrots and chile and cook, tossing occasionally, until carrots are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Return brussels sprouts and steak to skillet and add reserved sauce. Cook, tossing occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with scallion greens.

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