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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Auntie's recipe for beef stroganoff is all in the head

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

Some months ago, I wrote about beef stroganoff and mentioned the first one I learned to make, from my auntie, Aloha Wyckoff. Robson Hind wrote to say she was disappointed I hadn't shared that recipe. I looked high and low for it but couldn't find it because I just make it off the top of my head. It's unusual because it uses a shoyu-vinegar mixture to give it a tangy flavor. Not authentic, but easy and deliciously rich.

For Robson, and for anyone who might have been curious, here's how. I made it the other night. No exact measurements, sorry, but you'll get the idea.

In an open saucepan or wok, melt a good-size knob of butter. Slice an onion into crescents and saute over medium-low heat until limp and translucent and releasing its moisture. (You may use shallots, too, if you're feeling fancy.) Remove the onions from the pan using a slotted spoon, a wire ladle or tongs.

In the same pan, brown about a pound of good-quality beef strips (sirloin is good; I tried it with a cheaper cut and the meat was much too tough and chewy.)

When the meat has changed color and is partly cooked, add a mixture of 1/3 cup shoyu, 1/3 cup vinegar and 1/3 cup beef broth.

Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes or so to reduce (you want a little liquid but not swimming and not dry). Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. You can also add other seasonings; dried basil, rubbed between your hands to bring out the esters, is good, about a teaspoon or so. I didn't have any dried basil, so I squirted in some pesto (the prepared kind you buy in the tube). You could also use Herbs de Provence.

Throw in a goodly amount of sliced mushrooms (one container would work). Let the mushrooms wilt slowly.

At this point, you can hold the stroganoff until shortly before serving. Just keep it on low.

Shortly before serving, add a cup or so of sour cream. Don't overdo it. You want it kind of thickish. Warm the dish through, stirring occasionally, but don't allow it to boil or the sour cream will curdle.

Serve with noodles or hot rice.

Easy. Odd, but easy.