Chinese style tenderloin beef from South Villa. If you know what that is, then you probably thought that wearing leg warmers, a sweater and a miniskirt all at the same time was once cool.
A popular Chinese restaurant in Green Hills during the 80s, South Villa was the restaurant of choice for many who craved good Chinese food. Among all the fantastic dishes served there, Chinese style beef tenderloin was my runaway favorite.
Incredibly tender with a sweet, tangy sauce and crunchy raw onions, I remember giving myself indigestion once as a kid from eating too much of it too quickly. My little tummy taut like a balloon, I recall painfully rolling around in bed like Violet from The Chocolate Factory, my mother laughing, amused at how a little kid had stuffed himself silly to the point of explosion.
Here’s to South Villa and all the delicious, gluttonous memories.
- 1 1/4 lbs beef tenderloin
- 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch paste
- Vegetable oil/peanut oil for frying
- 1 lb green cabbage
- White onions, cut into rings
- 2 Tbsps soy sauce
- 3 Tbsps cornstarch
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 tsp meat tenderizer
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 Tbsps oil
FOR SEASONING SAUCE
- 2 Tbsps tomato ketchup
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp wine
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Cut beef against grain into 1/2 inch thick, 2 1/2 inch square pieces. Place beef in marinating sauce. Turn pieces so that every piece is thoroughly soaked with sauce. Add cooking oil. Marinate for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.
- Heat oil. Deep fry steaks until done, turning just once. Take steaks out and drain oil.
- Heat 2 Tbsps oil in same frying pan. Add onions and stir fry for a few seconds. Remove from pan. Pour in seasoning sauce and bring to boil. Stir in cornstarch paste until thickened. Put steaks into sauce and mix well.
- Boil green cabbage in boiling water for about 1 minute, then plunge into cold water and squeeze dry. Fry with 2 Tbsps oil and season with salt.
- After 2 minutes, remove and drain dry, then place in platter. Arrange steaks on platter and pour gravy over beef. Top with onions and serve.
DID YOU KNOW?
That despite the popular opinion that ketchup has no place in traditional Chinese cuisine, it is in fact an important ingredient in many of China’s coastal cuisines, particularly in Shanghainese dishes?
Chinese fried foods often have a little saucer of ketchup served on the side for dipping and flavoring. It’s also used in many of their sauces, most of which are quite tangy with some added vinegar and a sprinkling of sugar.
JB and Renée are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food, a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined. They enjoy experiencing food from different cultures so they’ve made it their mission to try every country’s national dish. Read more about them and their National Dish Quest here.