Tat-tat-taaaat-tat-tat-taaaat-tat! That, my friends, is the beautiful sing-song sound of Chef Martin Yan’s cleaver as he chops bok choy. In fact, everything about Martin is musical, from the lyrical harmony of his Chinese accent (yes, it’s real – I asked) to the way he rhythmically pulses the food processor. Brrrrrr-brr.brr-brrrrr.
I met Martin Yan last week at his special class held at Aprons cooking school, and it really was a childhood dream come true. When I was kid, I watched “Yan Can Cook.” Back then, in the 80’s, it was a big deal to me, not for the cooking aspect of the show, but because he was Chinese, with a thick accent, starring in his very own show on television. He created an entire brand empire around his kung fu-esque knife action and very funny, punny jokes.
But, putting showmanship aside, he gave the class very useful cooking tips:
You know what though, I don’t think I can fully express my admiration for the Yan man in words. I mean, this is the guy who’s hosted over 2,000 cooking shows, authored 28 cookbooks, carves a chicken in 18 seconds flat and minces a garlic clove in a split-second, single-handed thwack. He’s totally my kitchen super-hero and get this, he mentioned writing a blurb for the back of my cookbook! He showed me where Jackie Chan had blurbed the back of his book and called him a “man of perpetual motion.” And yes, he is.
Oh, please excuse that whoosh of air. That’s just silly me sucking up.
To see Martin in action – watch a video of him carving a chicken in 18 seconds!
Recipe adapted from Martin Yan's China Cookbook.
Freeze steak for 30 minutes until partially frozen. Slice steak against the grain, on the diagonal, into 8 equally thin pieces. Use a meat mallet to pound each piece of meat to 1/8 inch thick. If using thin sliced sirloin, skip this step.
Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and add meat slices. Let stand 15 minutes to 2 hours.
In a separate bowl, combine sauce ingredients.
To prepare filling, heat a wok or skillet over high heat. When hot, add vegetable oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add garlic and ginger and fry for 20 seconds. Add carrot, bell pepper, celery and stir fry for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sesame oil and stir. Transfer to bowl and let cool.
To make the beef rolls, lay beef slices out with short side facing you. Equally divide chives, enoki mushrooms and vegetable mixture among the pieces of meat. Roll the beef up, over the filling and secure with toothpick.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and butter, swirling to coat bottom. When hot, add beef rolls, seam side down, not touching and pan fry for 1 minute, turn roll. Add sauce to the pan. Cover and simmer over medium heat until beef is just cooked through, 1-2 minutes. Remove toothpick, sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.