Saturday, February 23, 2013

Beef Chow Fun

This is one my favorite Chinese dishes. It's made with fresh rice noodles so be sure to check out my post about how to make those.

The dominant flavor of this dish comes from the fermented black beans. Interestingly, fermented black beans are actually soybeans, which have been dried and fermented with salt. You may also find other spices added such as chili's or ginger. You can find fermented black beans in your Asian markets in the dry foods section. I used my mortar and pestle to smash the beans.

  • 8 ounces of lean steak, sirloin, flank whatever you like
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 pound fresh rice noodles
  • 3-4 green onions, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine, or sake
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fermented black beans, smashed into a paste
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
Cut the beef into thin strips and transfer to a bowl. Add the cornstarch, dark soy, and sesame oil. Stir to coat and set aside to marinate.

Smash the white sections of the green onions and add to a bowl with the ginger and garlic. Save the green parts of the scallions to add to the dish near the end of cooking.

In a small bowl, combine the white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce and water. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of oil and add the ginger/garlic mixture. Stir fry about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Push to the side of the pan and add the marinated beef. Spread out into a thin layer and allow to sear, without moving, for about a minute. Add the smashed black beans, and stir the garlic/ginger mixture back in. Stir fry about 30 seconds, until the beef is just barely done. Transfer to a plate.

Reheat the pan over high heat, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the rice noodles, spreading them out in the pan. Leave them, without stirring, for about a minute to sear. If you stir them too much, they will break into smaller pieces. Add the bean sprouts and stir fry together with the noodles for about 1 minute, until the bean sprouts have softened.

Return the beef and any juices to the pan. Stir in the green onion sections and the oyster/soy mixture. Stir fry the entire mixture together for at least one minute. This dish really benefits with some time for all the flavors to combine, and to make sure the noodles are fully cooked.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How to Make Fresh Rice Noodles

If you're ever had Pad See Eww or Beef Chow Fun (above), you've had these noodles. They're wide, soft, and very satisfying. A quick Google search will yield a wide variety of recipes, using many different flours. This recipe uses a combination of rice flour and tapioca flour/starch, so it is completely gluten free.

The ratio of rice flour and tapioca flour can be altered to your taste and/or experience. The tapioca flour makes the noodles easier to deal with, but they will have a chewier texture. A noodle made with all rice flour will be nice and soft, but very difficult to get out of the pan in one piece!

Making these noodles does take time, but they are worth it! This recipe makes enough for one large main dish portion, or two side dish portions.

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Mix the flour, tapioca, salt and water in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the oil and then set aside to rest for 20 minutes. 

Other items you'll need:
  • Two 8 inch square foil cake pans. The disposable ones you buy in the grocery store work just fine, and they can be used several times.
  • A steamer set-up. You'll want a pan big enough to hold the foil cake pan, with room for steam to rise up around all sides. Lastly, a steamer rack to keep the pan above the boiling water. This is the set-up I used:
This is a hotel pan with a steamer insert and lid that I picked up from my local restaurant supply store. I filled the bottom pan with water so it came up about 3 inches from the bottom of the steamer tray. A large saute pan with a round cooling rack would also work well. 

Fill your kitchen sink with about a inch of cold water. When you take your pan out of the steamer, you'll place the pan in the sink to cool the noodles off.

Brush the bottom of your foil pans with a little vegetable oil. Give the noddle batter a quick whisk or two (the flour will tend to settle to the bottom), then pour about a 1/3 cup of the batter into each pan. Shake the pan from side to side to distribute the liquid evenly.

Place the pan into your steamer, cover, and cook for 4 minutes. When done, the noodles will be slightly translucent. Remove the pan from the steamer and place it in the sink of cold water. (it will float) Place your second prepared pan into the steamer.

The foil pans cool quickly, so by the time you return from placing the second pan in the steamer, your first pan will be cool enough to handle. Brush the top with some more oil, then gently work your fingers around the edges of the pan to loosen the sheet. If you start pulling on the side where the noodle sheet is thickest, it will be more likely to come out in one piece. Place your noodle sheet on a plate, and cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

Add another 1/3 cup of your batter to the pan and set aside. Continue until all the batter is gone and you have a neat stack of noodle sheets. Cut the noodles into your desired width. If you brush the sides of your knife with a little oil, that will aid in getting a clean cut. Pull them apart and use immediately in your favorite stir fry.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Singapore Noodles (Vietnamese Style)

4 Servings. 420 calories per serving.

Although the flavors of this dish were distinctly Vietnamese, it sure wasn't like any Singapore Noodle recipe I'd ever had! The flavors are bright and sour from the lime, spicy from the Thai peppers, and salty from the fish sauce. It was a wonderful surprise how delicious it was!

Our local Vietnamese restaurant does a very nice version of a vermicelli noodle salad, and these flavors reminded me of that. Next time I make this I'm going to add some bean sprouts for a little crunch.

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3-4 Thai chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 1/2 ounces of pork, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 1/2 ounces of shrimp, shelled
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • grated rind, and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup water or fish stock
  • 8 oz rice sticks noodles (vermicelli)
  • 1 bunch each of mint and Thai basil
Heat a wok or large saute pan, and add the oil. Stir in the onion, garlic, chilies, and ginger and cook until they begin to color. Add the spring onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken and pork and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, fish sauce, lime juice/rind, and sugar. Pour in the water and cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain well, add to the pan, and toss to coat in the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with the basil and mint, and serve immediately.