Cumin Beef with Sweet & Sour Zucchini

When trying to figure out a realistic menu plan I was constantly stumped with the weekends. Saturday’s we spend the day shopping for the coming week and are gone a good chunk of the day. Then Sunday’s were doing most of the food prep for the coming weeks lunches and dinners. So cooking even more on the weekends seemed a challenge. Through much discussion with my husband we had two epiphanies. The first was he wanted to cook dinner for us one night a week. Both to up his kitchen skills as well as to give me a break from all the cooking. The second was Asian cuisine seemed like the answer as most of it has a quick cook time.

So far this has been fantastic. It still needs some tweaking as some of the dishes like Red Cooked Beef and Red-Briased Beef with Tofu “Bamboo” both need to slow cook.  With a little planning this won’t be hard to work into our routine. The rest of this dished like Stir-Fried Greens with Dried Shrimp, Barbecue Pork Lo Mein, Stir-Fried Beef with Black Bean Chili, or Stir-Fried Mushrooms with Garlic all offered quick dinner with amazing flavor.

Working back and forth between Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees and Every Grain of Rice only gets us more and more excited about the next weekends dinner. This last weekend we turned to Fuchsia Dunlop’s book once again and tried both the Cumin Beef and the Sweet and Sour Zucchini. Since I already had my beef sliced up and weighed out for the recipe all I had to do was thaw it. For the dinner it was a little chopping. While I was chopping my husband was able to get the marinade for the beef done. By the time he was ready to cook the beef was done marinading. I also got the zucchini sliced up and it was able to release it’s water while he cooked the beef. We also had a big batch of brown rice already cooked up so that was just a matter of heating it. Quick, simple, and a little team work got us a great weekend meal.

Beef with Cumin


In a bowl whisk together:

  • 1 teaspoon Shoaxing Wine
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Light Soy Sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Potato Flour


  • 9 ounces Sirloin or other lean tender beef

Prep all your veggies as this will go quickly:

  • ½ Red Bell Pepper, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ Green Bell Pepper, deseeded and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Fresh Ginger, minced
  • 1 Fresno Chili, deseeded and minced
  • 2 Green Onions, finely sliced

Heat up your wok over high heat with:

  • 3 tablespoon Cooking Oil

Add the marinaded beef and quickly stir, toss, and pull apart the beef making sure all pieces brown all over. Pour off into a bowl to let rest. Then add to the wok:

  • 1 tablespoon Cooking Oil

Add in the ginger and the garlic. Whirl around for just a few seconds and then add the peppers and the chili and:

  • 2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes

Move quickly around the wok until everything is hot and fragrant. Return the beef to the wok. Give it all another quick stir and add the green onion. After one final quick stir pour it into your serving dish of choice and toss with:

  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Cover to keep warm.

Sweet and Sour Zucchini


  • 11 ounces Zucchini, 2-3 inch long thin slices work best for this recipe
  • Salt

Put the sliced zucchini in a bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and toss. Let sit for 30 minutes so the salt can extract the excess moisture from the zucchini. Drain the zucchini (I put my in cheese cloth and squeezed out the moisture. You could also do this in a light weight kitchen towel.)

Heat your wok over high heat with:

  • 2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

Once you hear the garlic start to sizzle add the zucchini. Working quickly toss the zucchini trying to get all the pieces evenly heated through. Just until the zucchini brightens up in color. Try not to over cook. Add the:

  • ½ teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinkiang Vinegar

Give it one last stir around the pan and serve.

Every Grain of Rice again hit this one out of the park and make a weekend dinner that was complex in flavor but quick and easy to throw together. (P.S. I used the whole red and green bell pepper as I didn’t want to waste the other half and didn’t have a plan for it.)

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