chilli beef with egg-fried rice

Thin strips of beef fillet are dusted with a zesty pepper mix then deep-fried and coated in sticky chilli sauce.

sunflower oil, for deep-frying
1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed to a fine powder
2 limes, zest only
1 orange, zest only
3 heaped tbsp rice flour, potato flour or cornflour
400g/14oz beef fillet, cut into thin strips
2 tbsp vegetable oil

for the sauce
150g/5½oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz Shaoxing rice wine
25ml/1fl oz rice wine vinegar
1½ red chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli flakes
10cm/4in piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 lemongrass stems, outer leaves discarded, finely chopped
4 lime leaves, crushed

for the egg-fried rice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp groundnut oil
200g/7oz basmati rice, freshly cooked according to packet instructions and cooled
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat a deep-fat fryer to 190C or heat the sunflower oil for deep-frying in a deep, heavy-based frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (Caution: Hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

Put the Sichuan pepper in large bowl, add the lime and orange zests and the rice flour, then toss well.

Coat the beef strips with the vegetable oil, then with the peppercorn mix.

Deep-fry the beef in batches, for 2 minutes per batch, then drain on to kitchen paper.

For the sauce, heat a frying pan or wok until hot. Add the sugar, rice wine and vinegar and bring to the boil. Add the chillies, chilli flakes, ginger, lemongrass and lime leaves, then cook for 5-8 minutes, or until thickened, sticky and glossy.

Add the cooked beef to the sauce, remove from the heat and toss well so it is coated in sauce.

For the egg-fried rice, mix the eggs and sesame oil together in a bowl using a fork. Heat the groundnut oil in a wok until hot, then add the rice and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, or until hot through. Add the eggs and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes more, or until set and the mixture is dry.

Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry for 2 minutes more, then stir in the spring onions, soy sauce and coriander. Serve the rice in bowls with strips of beef on top.

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