Chairman Mao's Cherry Cola Skirt Steak
- 1 1/2 hanger or skirt steaks (I prefer hanger steak for the kidney flavor)
- 2 ounces canola, vegetable, or corn oil, plus more for frying
- 2 ounces rock candy
- 3 ounces moutai or Chinese grain alcohol
- 4 ounces rice cooking wine
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish (traditionally, people use ginger, but I use horseradish which goes better with red meat)
- 4 ounces soy sauce, plus 2 ounces dark soy sauce
- 2 ounces fermented sweet rice sauce (available at any Asian grocery)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups cherry cola
- 2 hu yieh leaves (dried lotus leaves)
- 8 Chinese buns (gwa bao, a white folded bun from any Chinese grocer)
The order of operations is to cut the skirt steak into 3-inch chunks. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and let drain in a colander. While it's draining, lightly rinse the inside of the skillet with warm water, wipe with paper towel, then put back on the stove. Make sure skillet is dry on inside so the oil doesn't pop. Coat the skillet with oil and add the rock candy. Let it melt for 1 minute or until halfway melted on medium heat. Add the browned beef and stir until caramelized.
Remove the skillet from the heat, add moutai and ignite with a long kitchen match. Let it flame for 10 to 15 seconds then return the skillet to the heat. Add the rice wine, garlic, onion, horseradish, 4 ounces of soy sauce, and the fermented rice sauce. Let simmer for 2 minutes and then add 2 cups of the water. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then skim the foam off the top. Add the cherry cola and let boil, uncovered, on high heat for 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining cup of water and cover. Cook until tender, usually another 50 minutes.
About 20 minutes before serving, set up a bamboo steamer. Put the dried lotus leaves in steamer and put the 8 buns on top. Steam until soft, but still firm, usually 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the lotus leaves to a serving platter and arrange the buns on top. The large leaves give off a nice aroma and looks cool. It's good party presentation for serving.
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