Every once in a while, my mom would cook something new. Unlike me and my father, my mom is the adventurous one when it comes to new food. Usually when we order at a restaurant, my dad and I tend to stick to things we know we’ll like–things we’ve already tried before. My mom is the one who ventures out and tries new things, which helps us discover new things. So one day mom decided she wanted to cook a new dish–something other than the ol’ regulars of adobo, sinigang, sinampalukan, etc. She settled on Nora Daza’s beef with kutsay, a fantastic beef dish with a strong flavor. ‘Kutsay’ is a Filipino word meaning leeks. Thus beef with kutsay is beef cooked with leeks–Chinese leeks to be specific.
Leeks are a vegetable grown from a bulb, like an onion. They are very similar to green onions and spring onions in look and taste. Leeks are mild and onion-y in flavor. Also similar to those onions, they can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw they have a crunchy texture, but when cooked they wilt and grow smaller. Leeks are also layered. When you cut into a leek’s leaves, you get a lot of little pieces because the inside is actually layers of leaves stacked on top of each other. They are great for flavor and texture, because they maintain both pretty well when cooked.
Like I said before, this dish–and countless others in my repertoire–is from Nora Daza’s cookbook. There are some differences between Nora’s and the way my mom prepared it, however. And as per usual, my mom’s version wins out in the end. Mama knows best, ya know? We start off by cutting the beef. Now, this part is especially tricky. We usually get beef chuck roast, which can be really tough when fried. So, you have to slice it really thin and tenderize it before frying. Then marinade it in salt, pepper, lemon and soy sauce for at least 15 minutes.
Before frying coat the meat with an egg white and cornstarch. I like to mix it up with my hands because it’s just easier for me. Fry each piece until browned and set aside. Then lightly fry the red bell pepper and leeks. Pour in the soy sauce marinade and some water. Add back they meat and simmer through until cooked. Last but not least, sprinkle with sesame oil and serve it up! You’re going to love the saltiness from the marinade, the spice from leeks and the sweetness from the red bell peppers. There’s a bit of citrus from the lemon and a smoky quality from the sesame oil. You won’t regret or forget this dish. Trust me!
Have you ever tried leeks? What are your thoughts?
Beef with Kutsay
- 2 lbs beef chuck cut into strips, tenderized
- salt + pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 medium lemon juiced
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 medium red bell peppers chopped
- 1 bunch Chinese leeks chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- Dash sesame oil
Tenderize and flatten the beef with a mallet. Season with salt and pepper on all sides. Marinade in 2 tbsp soy sauce and the lemon juice for at least 15 minutes.
Drain out the marinade--BUT DO NO THROW IT AWAY! Coat the beef with an egg white. Sprinkle cornstarch and coated. Fry on both sides over high heat until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain out remaining oil but leave at least 1 tbsp.
Saute the red bell pepper until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the leeks and saute for another 3 minutes, until wilted and fragrant. Return the marinade and the remaining soy sauce. Add the water and mix thoroughly. Add the beef and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and let it simmer for at least 25-30 minutes. Add the fish sauce about 5 minutes before it finishes boiling. Bring to a simmer again and cook though. Before serving, sprinkle the sesame oil and mix again. Turn off the heat and serve with rice!