The combination of Christmas and Chinese food take-out is an iconic tradition as old as time. More specifically, it’s as old as the late 1800s, when it seems to have first originated with non-Christian immigrants who had made a new home for themselves in New York and typically didn’t partake in this particular holiday. Chinese restaurants, generally open on Christmas, became their new go-to, and the mental image we all have of those little white cardboard boxes became symbiotic with warm nights on the couch. In the 1900s, Chinese food got another boost as an archetype of hip, urban, city life. The opaque boxes have also helped make Chinese food the go-to in film and TV for its easy continuity—it’s easier to lose track of how many bites the character’s eaten if the audience can’t actually see the food—therefore cementing its iconic status in pop culture.
All this to say, that if you’re planning to skip the traditional Christmas dinner this year, we’ve got the dish for you. As far as Chinese food recipes go, the old standby of beef and broccoli is remarkably easy to make at home. This version comes from old school Hollywood haunt Formosa Cafe, which has been an LA institution since it first opened its doors in 1925, then restored in 2019.
You can easily substitute chicken thighs or breast for beef for an equally satisfying variation on this classic comfort food.
- ¼ cup plus 3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. beef tenderloin, cubed into 1″ pieces
- ½ cup mirin (rice wine)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch broccolini (or one head of broccoli), trimmed and blanched
- In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tbsp of soy sauce, the oyster sauce, 1 tbsp brown sugar, the ginger, and the garlic. Toss with the beef and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, combine mirin, the remaining ¼ cup of soy sauce, and remaining tbsp of brown sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer over low, so that it reduces until thickened and very syrupy. Set aside.
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and sear beef about 1-2 minutes each side, turning to brown all sides. Add the onion to the pan and stir until it begins to soften (about a minute).
- Add the blanched broccolini and stir. Add a couple of tbsp of the mirin/soy syrup reduction, mix well, and serve.
- Optional garnishes: toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallion.
THE FORMOSA CAFE
7156 SANTA MONICA BLVD, WEST HOLLYWOOD
OPEN FOR DINE-IN & TAKE OUT
BOOK TAKE-OUT OR RESERVATION HERE.