What Miss Penny wanted Miss Penny got.
It was the late 90s in Austin, Texas and I had just received a promotion from line cook to head chef at a restaurant tucked away inside the corporate headquarters of a big bank on US 290 East.
The best part of the job was creating menus and writing recipes for the restaurant’s big Mastercook database.
Miss Penny was the building manager tasked with making sure that the fat cat executives had all they wanted or needed in their luxury nerve center’s dining room.
She often camped out in the kitchen, watching me and my sous chef’s every move. She knew that keeping the execs happy was paramount, and a good way to do that was to make sure they were well-fed.
Miss Penny also regularly requested certain dishes that she had a hankering for…like Mongolian Beef.
My gold-standard for this dish was served at the Happy Buddha restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama where I attended culinary school. I’ve used their version as a template but liberally added Cajun ingredients. I’m morally opposed to fusion cuisines but there are few dishes that can’t be improved by adding the Holy Trinity.
Here is my recipe for Mongolian Beef With The Holy Trinity
1lb Beef, sirloin
1 T. Corn starch
2 T. Oil, peanut
1 t. Salt, kosher
1 t. Sugar
1 T. Soy
1 t. Pepper, white
1 each Onion, yellow, chopped
2 each Peppers, bell, green, chopped
3 Ribs, celery
2 T. Oil, peanut
1 T. Ginger, minced
1 T. Garlic, minced
1 T. Crushed Red Chili Flakes
1 T. Soy sauce, Bourbon Barrel Foods version is the finest I’ve ever tasted
1 Bunch Green onions
* Cube beef
* Combine beef with first six ingredients in bowl, set aside for one hour
* Coat wok with two T. peanut oil, heat til oil shimmers
* Add onion, peppers, celery, ginger, garlic and chile flakes
* Stir-fry vegetables til caramel colored
* Crank heat up
* Add beef, cook til brown
* Add soy sauce and green onions
* Cook for 30 seconds
Serve this dish over rice