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Fire up your wok for dinner

Feel like Chinese food tonight? This Chinese dinner is faster and less expensive than takeout.

Stir-fried beef placed in lettuce puffs with tangy scallions and cool cucumbers takes only minutes in a wok or skillet. The meat should be crisp on the outside

Linda Gassenheimer/TNS
Cook up Chinese Beef in Lettuce Puffs and Quick Fried Rice in the same wok for a fast, efficient dinner.

and tender inside. The secret is to make sure your wok or skillet is very hot before adding the meat.

Use the same wok for the rice. The pan juices from the meat will flavor the rice.

As with most stir-fry dishes, it takes a few extra minutes to prepare the ingredients, but only five minutes to cook them.

CHINESE BEEF IN LETTUCE PUFFS

Serves 2

¾ pound grass-fed strip steak

¼ cup lower-sodium stir-fry sauce such as Kikkoman

For garnish:

2 scallions (to make 1 cup slivers)

½ medium cucumber (to make about 1½ cups slivers)

½ medium head iceberg lettuce (to make 8 lettuce cups)

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

Vegetable oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove visible fat from steak. Cut into ½-inch strips. Pour stir-fry sauce into a small bowl and add meat. Let marinate 15 minutes, turning several times to make sure all the meat is covered.

Meanwhile, prepare garnishes: Wash and remove root end and damaged leaves from scallions. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise into slivers. Place in small bowl. Peel and cut cucumber into 2-inch pieces, then cut lengthwise into thin slivers. Place in another small bowl. Separate lettuce leaves to make cups, wash and drain. Place in large serving bowl. Spoon hoisin sauce into small serving bowl.

Spray wok with vegetable oil spray and heat until smoking. Add the beef. Stir fry 4 minutes. Remove from wok and place in a bowl, leaving any pan juice in the wok.

To serve, place scallions, cucumber, lettuce, hoisin sauce and beef on table. Take one lettuce leaf and spoon a little sauce onto it, add a few scallion and cucumber slivers and some meat. Roll up and eat like a sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

PER SERVING: 340 calories (21 percent from fat), 8 g fat (2.1 g saturated, 3.3 g monounsaturated), 96 mg cholesterol, 42 g protein, 23.2 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 870 mg sodium.

QUICK STIR-FRIED RICE

Serves 2

1 package microwave brown rice

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup frozen petite peas, defrosted

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Microwave rice according to package instructions. Measure 1½ cups rice and reserve remaining rice for another time. Add oil to same wok or skillet used for the beef. Heat to smoking. Add rice and peas. Toss 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

PER SERVING: 256 calories (22 percent from fat), 6.2 g fat (0.8 g saturated, 3.4 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 6.2 g protein, 43.9 g carbohydrates, 4.7 g fiber, 9 mg sodium.

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