Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cafaux TH: Entree 2- Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Beef and Baby Bok Choy

Stir-fried flat rice noodles make any dish better. Once, in an attempt to have his very own dish named after him, Kevin tried to alter Minh's Stir-fried Tofu Delight with flat rice noodles, egg rolls and baby bok choy. While we certainly enjoyed his new take, "The Kevin Special" never caught on with the masses, and his search continued. Following up my Ground Pork and String Beans was not going to be an easy task, but Kevin and his steaming hot wok were up to the challenge. By combining his lost dream with Cafe TH's most valuable vegetable, baby bok choy, he was gonna try to reach such rarefied air and leave us all with a Kevin Special we would not soon forget.

Kevin: Master of his kitchen and proud wok owner

Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodles with Beef and Baby Bok Choy
Servings: 6-8
Time: 30 minutes

1/2 package flat rice noodles (about 8 oz)
So much green it seemed like a mistake
1/2 lb thinly sliced beef (ok to have marbling but trim fat from 1 side)
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup brown sugar
High smoke point oil (Peanut or sesame, not olive)
1 cup soy sauce or (soy substitute)
1-2 baby bok choy roughly chopped
1/4 chopped lemon grass
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cups spinach
1 8 oz can straw mushrooms
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 jalapenos, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Peanuts, crushed

Fortunately the greens cook down quite a bit, so you can forget all about their healthiness.
  1. Mix the corn starch and brown sugar and liberally coat the sliced beef in a plastic bag. Let marinade in the fridge for 30-60 minutes while prepping everything else.
  2. Chop the bok choy, onion, spinach, straw mushrooms, jalapenos, garlic, and ginger. You'll want to have all this done before the cooking begins because once it gets going it moves pretty quickly.
  3. Start a pot of boiling water while you start the sautéing in the next step . Boil the flat rice noodles for about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep them from sticking.
  4. Heat the oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Avoid oils such as olive oil that will smoke quickly. Feel free to mix a few such as peanut and sesame to add to the flavor.
  5. Toss in the chopped veggies, red chili flakes, garlic powder, and salt/pepper. Toss or stir frequently until softened (tongs might come in handy here).
  6. Remove the veggies from the heat and set aside with the noodles.
  7. Get a couple of tbsp of oil heated up over medium-high heat again in the wok. Toss in some more of the garlic and ginger along with the sliced beef and sauté until cooked through.
  8. After a few minutes, throw in the soy sauce and stir. The corn starch from the marinade should quickly thicken the mixture. Feel free to augment the starch depending on the desired thickness of the sauce, but remember that it thickens when it cools.
  9. Throw the veggies and noodles back into the mix and stir until there is a good coating of the sauce.
  10. Serve with crushed peanuts, a lime wedge, and as much sriracha as your heart desires.
Pre-mixing, the noodles really stick out
While I won't go as far as to say that Kevin won the entree cook-off (since writing this blog has only served to grossly inflate my ego, and because I keep telling myself the entire dinner was a "team effort" and thus take credit for this too), I will compliment him on a job well done. The all encompassing sauce was masterfully executed (who knew sugar was so versatile), and the beef was absolutely succulent. Baby bok choy, the crazy love-child of a drunken night involving romaine lettuce, cabbage, and spinach, continued to show its versatility in Vietnamese dishes as it provided both additional slippery yet crunchy and fresh (along with the lime) notes to the dish.  To top it all off, the crushed peanuts, while simple, added a nice extra layer that saved us from the added complexity of trying to throw in some fried egg rolls to the mix. Put it all together with just the right wet noodle transport medium, and Kevin had something worthy of both a restaurant's menu and his name.

Perfectly sauced and edibly garnished
Coming up next- we get a breather from carbs and meat with the Mango and Peach Entremet.

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