Red Restaurant Group’s Brad Friedlander shares a recipe for those in need of a Chinese fix on Dec. 25 – but who are hoping to stay home
Story by Amanda Koehn
Photography by Michael C. Butz
Brad Friedlander may have grown up in a foodie family before such a designation even existed. However, of all the foods his parents experimented with, Chinese was a mainstay. His family frequented top local Chinese restaurants, but they also created Asian-inspired dishes at home.
“We were eating curries back in the ’50s, when nobody was making stuff like that,” he says after preparing Szechuan beef at Moxie the Restaurant in Beachwood.
Friedlander – a partner in Red Restaurant Group, which includes Moxie, Red the Steakhouse in Cleveland and Beachwood, and 811 Kitchen Bar Lounge in Cleveland – says as a kid growing up in Shaker Heights, his mother, Anita Barnett, cooked dishes that were popular at home, while his father, Alvin Friedlander, ran Cleveland’s Alvie’s restaurants, among other professional food-related endeavors.
“My mother was a phenomenal cook. My father had some restaurants, (and) he had the food concession at the Cleveland (Municipal) Stadium for 50 years. So I grew up around food,” he says.
Christmas traditions while Friedlander, today a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, was growing up consisted of going to a movie and getting Chinese food.
While such a tradition is pretty common, avoiding the bad weather and diving into your Netflix queue might be a cozier change of pace. Friedlander’s recipe for Szechuan beef is perfect to try out your Chinese cooking chops, without the stress of preparing a more difficult, multiple-course meal or incurring the expense of going out.
Friedlander’s Szechuan beef, a dish he sautéed in five minutes after pre-chopping vegetables and preparing rice, was inspired by a meal his stepson, also a chef at Moxie, cooked during a recent staff meal. The dish was an immediate hit.
“It’s so easy. It’s not complicated at all,” Friedlander says.
While cooking the beef over a flame, Friedlander recommended using high-quality beef and not overcooking it. As he quickly removed the vegetables from heat, he advised not overcooking them, too, because they will lose their color.
While Moxie has had various Asian dishes on the menu over the years, and 811 Kitchen Bar Lounge offers them regularly, Friedlander speculates more may some day be in store.
“Eventually, who knows, maybe we will open up a Chinese restaurant,” he says.
Brad Friedlander’s recipe for Szechuan beef, stir-fried with red and green bell peppers in a mildly spicy, savory sauce:
2 tablespoons oil
8 oz. beef, cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ small green bell pepper, cut into long strips
¼ small red bell pepper, cut into long strips
1 to 2 baby carrots, cut into matchstick strips
½ teaspoon chili oil (bottled chili oil), optional
2 stalks scallions, cut into 2-inch strips
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
½ heaping tablespoon oyster sauce
½ tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon chili oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1) Marinate the beef with all the ingredients in the marinade for 15 minutes.
2) Combine all the ingredients in the sauce, stir and mix well. Set aside.
3) Chop vegetables, if not pre-cut.
4) Heat up a wok and add 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is fully heated, add the beef and do a few quick stirs, until the surface turns opaque and slightly charred. Transfer out and set aside.
5) Clean the wok and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is fully heated, add the garlic and stir-fry until aromatic. Add all the peppers and carrots and stir a few times before adding the beef back into the wok. Add the sauce and stir to combine well. Stir in the scallions and chili oil, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice. js