Shredded Beef with Hot Peppers and Chiles

Thoughts on cooking Shredded Beef with Hot Peppers and Chiles from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s _The Wok_ cookbook. Spoiler: it’s delicious!

Last week I made the Shredded Beef with Hot Peppers and Chiles recipe from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Wok cookbook.

In general, the recipe was straightforward and in line with the other recipes done so far. I was happy to use the previously-made pickled chiles again, as well as the dried fermented black beans purchased for previous recipes.

The dish calls for 24–30 “small dried chiles such as er jing tiao or chao tian jiao”. I could have substituted chiles de arbol which are easy for me to find (and I usually have some on hand anyways), but I wanted to at least try my nearby Asian market to get the “correct” peppers. I always try to find ingredients at the Asian market by myself first, and they had a whole corner of bags of dried chilies. But almost all of them were labeled only "Dried Chilies" in English. None of them had “er jing tiao” or “chao tian jiao”, nor “Sichuan chile” or “facing heaven peppers” (a common label for chao tian jiao, apparently), so I had to ask for help. The romanized names of these chilies were of no help to the wonderful women working the Asian store, but they eventually helped me find the chao tian jiao chilies and determined that they didn’t have the er jing tiao ones.

I was honestly afraid of the heat of the dish: 6–8 pickled Thai chilies (I used 6), 2 long hot green chilies, 1 jalapeño, and 24–30 dried Sichuan chilies (I used 24). And it is spicy, but it was thankfully not too much. It felt just on the edge of almost too spicy, and it was that way from the very first bite, but it never got to be too hot. It was delicious. Even the leftovers I’ve eaten have been delicious. The kids opted not to try it, and my wife commented “it’s spicy!” after her first bite (and I don’t think she’s helped with any of the leftovers). But I loved it.

I am cooking my way through J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Wok cookbook. Read more about it.