3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry, white wine or shaoxing wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ pound ground beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon sesame oil
20 cup-shaped lettuce leaves, such as bibb, Boston or iceberg
In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Stir well to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, use a spoon to break up the ground beef. Gently mix in the soy sauce mixture. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium-high until very hot. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook for about one minute, tossing once, until fragrant but not browned.
Crumble in the ground beef and use a spatula or a large slotted spoon to break it up and spread the meat over the pan to help it cook evenly. Let it cook until it changes color on one side, one to two minutes. Turn the meat and let it cook another minute undisturbed. Toss well, using a spatula to break up any large chunks.
When the meat is cooked, add the red pepper flakes and the scallions, then toss well. Add the sesame oil and remove from the heat, tossing once more to mix everything well. Transfer the meat to a serving plate. It can be served hot, warm or at room temperature.
Arrange lettuce cups on a serving platter. Fill each with a spoonful or more of the cooked beef.
This recipe is adapted by The Associated Press from Nancie McDermott's "Quick and Easy Chinese" (Chronicle Books, $19.95 paperback).