Beef, Brocoli, and (ghost)Bustin'... or Who Ya Gonna Call? TWIN PANDA!!!


Picture this: you and two of your best friends have just started a new business venture.  You’ve just rented your space, hired your first employee, had your first promising business meeting and (unbeknownst to you) are about to get your first real client.  Time to celebrate, right? So how do you celebrate? Well, if you’re Doctors Pete Venkman, Egon Spengler, and Ray Stantz, you spend the last of your petty cash to order Chinese food from Tai Hung Lau Restaurant and enjoy a meal of classic Americanized Chinese delicacies.


I have fond childhood memories of the 1984 Ghostbusters: laser guns, a flying green ghost, a giant Marshmallow Man, and enough adult humor that my folks didn’t mind watching it with me. Now, at the age my parents were when they watched it with me, it’s still funny…and I get the rest of the jokes. I also have fond childhood memories of just the thing the guys are eating in that fateful dinner; the neighborhood Chinese joint.

The one my family went to was in a strip mall, and had booths of sticky, squeaky pink vinyl edged with gold plastic.  It was called Twin Panda, and served the usual array of early-90s white suburbanite friendly fare like Kung Pao Chicken, Beef with Broccoli, and Chow Mein.  Or course, they also had the chalkboard of menu items written in Chinese which, as an aforementioned white suburban kid, made it only that much more mysterious.  I wondered long about what was on that menu, what secrets hid behind the language barrier.

If you’ll allow me to be sappy for a moment, here’s another thing connecting busting ghosts and slinging General Tsao’s Chicken: The American Dream.  A few friends and family getting together, starting with work ethic and knowledge, determined to build their space within the community.  Perhaps people don’t trust them or fear the unknown that they represent, but they persevere and are proven right.  I have limited knowledge of the real world struggles of minority entrepreneurs, but I think I speak for geeks everywhere when I say that struggling for a place in the world is no small feat.

Everyone’s struggles are different but we all deserve a nice meal at the end of the week with folks we care about, people who share our struggles, who we help and who help us.  I still haven’t gotten around to learning Chinese and deciphering the “secret menu,” but I have learned how to make some delicious versions of Chinese-American favorites.

In honor of Ghostbusters, here are my recipes for a couple of my family’s favorites:

Beef with Broccoli and Chow Mein.

So hit the market, grab the ingredients (everything was available at my local mega-mart), grab yourself a copy of Ghostbusters and have some people you love enjoy them with you!



Beef with Broccoli

(makes about 4 portions)

  • 4oz Soy sauce
  • 1oz Mirin or dry sherry
  • 1oz Oyster sauce
  • 2 TBS Light brown sugar
  • 2 TBS Cornstarch
  • 1/2″ minced ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2lbs Beef (Sirloin, Flank, Skirt; sliced very thin)
  • 2lbs Broccoli (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1-2oz Neutral Oil (Canola, Grapeseed, Peanut, etc.; the higher the smoke point, the better)
  • 1 cup stock (chicken, beef, vegetable…duck would be delicious!)
  • Salt, Pepper, Soy Sauce to taste.
  1. Before you begin, cut the beef into 2in-ish square-ish strips, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for a couple hours.
  2. This will firm it up and make it easier to cut, as will leaving it wrapped until after you slice it.
  3. Start out by adding all the ingredients to a zip-top bag until you get to the beef. Mix the marinade around in the zip-top bag, then add the beef and mix together and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  4. Remove the bag from the fridge and the beef from the bag, (reserving the marinade) and let it come to room temperature and drain on some paper towels while you cut up the broccoli and heat the oil.
  5. Once the oil is hot add the beef (in batches if needed) and sear, removing to a plate as the pieces finish.  Add the broccoli to the pan with half the stock to deglaze, then add the rest of the stock and the reserved marinade, cover, and reduce to low heat to allow the broccoli to steam and the sauce to thicken.  Once the broccoli is tender, add the beef and stir everything to coat it with the sauce.


Serve on top of…

Chow Mein

(about 4 portions)

  • 1lb Thin Spaghetti Noodles
  • 2oz vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2oz ginger, minced
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced very thin
  • 3 carrots, grated roughly
  • 3-5 green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 head of cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 Thai chili, seeds removed and sliced very thin (optinal)
  • 3oz soy sauce
  • 2oz oyster sauce
  • 2tsp Five spice powder
  • Salt, pepper, soy sauce to taste


  1. Boil heavily salted water and cook the pasta until almost tender, drain and set aside so the residual moisture can drip/evaporate off.
  2. While the pasta is draining, heat the oil in a wok or wide skillet and then add the garlic and ginger.  As soon as the aromatics begin to brown add the veggies and cook for a couple minutes to remove some of their moisture, and then add the noodles.
  3. Toss to combine, then add the sauces and seasonings and stir to coat. Cook until noodles and veggies are tender, but not too soft.

And then you’re done!


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