kitchen firsts: chinese broccoli with beef and noodles
When I’m not much in the mood to cook or I don’t have a particular recipe in mind for dinner, I tend to vaguely crave something savory and maybe spicy, often something noodley, with both meat and a generous vegetable presence, all in one dish for simplicity. But usually I can’t really synthesize my feelings of “ooh, this sounds good” and “ew, I really don’t feel like that” into an actual meal plan or even something I can go order. Stephen has recently pointed out that when I’m in one of those lazy-and-hungry-but-with-vague-cravings moods, I usually end up begging him to get some kind of asian take-out. But in a town of relatively few yummy asian take-out establishments, you exhaust your options relatively quickly and are forced to face the fact that it really would be easier and cheaper in the end to just make something yourself. Enter this recipe.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with a lot of asian-inspired recipes, and I really enjoyed this one both for the chance to use a new vegetable (chinese broccoli, or gai-lan) and the fact that it accomplishes savory noodley meaty and veggie-ness all in one dish. It’s easy, requires only three main ingredients (besides the sauce stuff), and with a minimum of effort brings about all the savory yummyness of something you would pay someone else to make with all the better-ness that comes from making it yourself.
The chinese broccoli was really easy to find at our local asian store, and we found it really tasty– pretty similar to regular broccoli, but with a little something extra I can’t even put my finger on, kind of like broccolini. As for the beef, we usually use top sirloin, but you can also use flank steak or ribeye, and you can vary the amount of beef to suit your needs. For the noodles, the original recipe from Steamy Kitchen says pretty much any noodles will work (even spaghetti noodles she says!), so I used those par-cooked yakisoba noodles you can buy at most grocery stores next to the wonton wrappers and stuff, which eliminated the step of cooking the noodles. Those packages are pretty small, about a half pound I think, but you can use more or less noodles depending on how many people you want to feed or what you have on hand. One of those packets is sufficient for two people, at least. And if you have some dried asian noodles instead, just go ahead and cook them as indicated when you get to that step.
As I typed this up, I noticed that the recipe looks kind of long, but it really is just a few steps all in one pan, so don’t be intimidated:
1) Slice and marinate beef
2) Chop veg and pre-cook noodles (if necessary)
3) Cook then reserve meat
4) Cook then reserve broccoli
5) Bring sauce to a boil and add noodles
6) Put meat and broc back in with sauce and noodles, stir it all up and eat!
See? Easy, tasty, one-dish meal that’s almost as easy as take-out and definitely better.
Chinese Broccoli with Beef and Noodles
Adapted from steamykitchen.com
Serves 2 generously, and can be pumped up or down by adding more noodles, more broccoli, and/or more beef
1/2 to 1 lb beef, thinly sliced
1 T soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 T sake or dry white wine (optional)
1 T sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 t sesame oil
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup water
1 pound Chinese broccoli (or regular broc if you prefer), cut into bite-size chunks
1 pkg pre-cooked yakisoba noodles (about a half pound i think), or a package of your favorite dried asian noodles to cook as indicated
2 T soy sauce
2 T oyster sauce
2 T sake or dry white wine (again, optional)
To start, slice your beef and season with a few grinds of black pepper. In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients: stir together 1 tablespoon each of the soy sauce, oyster sauce and sake (if using), then stir in the tablespoons of sugar and cornstarch to dissolve. Add your teaspoon of sesame oil, and then add the beef and toss it up to combine. Add crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Put it in the fridge to marinate while you get everything else set up, or if you’re together enough to have allotted time to marinate, you can marinate for about 30 minutes or as long as you want.
While the beef is marinating, wash and chop your chinese broccoli into bite size pieces, chop your garlic, and get your oil, water, and 2 T each of soy sauce, oyster sauce and sake measured because once you start it moves fast. Prep your noodles to near doneness– if you are using a package of those pre-cooked yakisoba noodles, all you have to do is microwave them a tad to loosen them up, but if you’re using regular noodles of some sort, you’ll need to boil them until just barely al dente.
Add 1 T of oil to a wok or large skillet and bring it up to medium high heat. Really let it get hot before you start. Spoon the beef out of its marinade and into the hot pan, leaving most of the marinating juice behind, and toss in your garlic. Spread the beef out so each piece is getting face time with the hot pan, doing it in two batches if necessary. Don’t stir it about, just let it get seared on the first side, then flip over and sear on the other side. When it’s done on both sides (hopefully the pan is hot enough to do this in just a couple minutes, so it should be tender and still a little pink in the middle), remove to a plate.
Add the second T of oil to the wok, then toss in your chunks of chinese broccoli. Stir it all to get it covered in oil, then add 1/2 cup of water, turn heat to medium low, cover, and allow to cook until the broccoli is tender. Then remove broccoli to the same plate as your meat.
Turn the heat back up on your wok, and add your remaining 2 T of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sake, plus the remaining water. Bring it to a boil, then add in your mostly cooked noodles and stir them around. Let it bubble away until most of the liquid is absorbed, then put the broccoli and beef back in and stir it all up to combine! Serve immediately.