The Weeknight What To Fix For Dinner Conundrum

I love to cook.  I love trying out new recipes, modifying them, and coming up with my own recipes.  I like to experiment and I like to challenge myself.  Sometimes when I come home from work, I pretend that I’m on an episode of Chopped and I can only use the items in my pantry and fridge – no running to the store.  Usually I’m up for the challenge, and get inspired by whatever ingredient I may find.

Today was not one of those days.  It’s been a dark, rainy few days here, with late night/early morning thunderstorms interrupting my sleep and disrupting my morning routine.  I got home, opened the pantry and then the fridge and looked around.  Nothing really looked interesting except the wine so I poured a glass of that and got on Pinterest.  I had some thinly sliced sirloin in the meat drawer.  I had a package of rice noodles in the pantry and decided something could be done with both of those.  When I searched Pinterest for “beef and rice noodles,” I received several results for Beef Chow Fun.  I didn’t have all of the exact ingredients, so I improvised a bit.  I took some tips from Seonkyoung Longest, as well as inspiration from Hip Foodie Mom  to come up with my version.

I did not have the shaoxing wine that Seonkyoung uses in her recipe, so I used a dry white wine, and I didn’t have oyster sauce so I subbed in fish sauce.  I only had regular fresh chives, no Chinese garlic chives, and additionally the rice noodles I had were the linguini-sized noodles typically used for pad thai, not the traditional wide rice noodles, but I figured they would work just fine.  Hip Foodie Mom added Chinese cabbage and bok choy to hers, and of course I had neither but I did have spinach, so I sautéed that in ginger and garlic, and added it to the dish at the very end.  Seonkyoung provided the best tip about making the beef more tender:  baking soda!  I had never heard this before and I have to say it did help.  I definitely want to try this recipe again using the right ingredients, but my version tasted pretty good and ended up being a quick and tasty dinner.

Theresa’s Beef Chow Fun

12 oz rice noodles

3/4 lb thinly sliced beef sirloin, cut into 1/4″ wide x 2″ strips
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp starch (corn or tapioca)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp white wine
2 Tbsp canola oil

Sauce:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp white wine
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup beef broth
1 tsp fresh ginger grated
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil

1 can bean sprouts, drained
1/3 cup fresh chives, sliced into 2″ long pieces
2 cups fresh spinach
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Place the noodles in a large pot of salted water.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit in the water until tender.  Drain, rinse, and set aside.  Toss the beef and the next 4 ingredients in a bowl and let sit to marinate for about 15 minutes.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp of soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of white wine, the fish sauce, sugar, broth, ginger, garlic, honey and sesame oil.  Heat the canola oil in a large pan or wok then add the beef slices, separating them with your fingers as you add them to the pan.  Stir fry until no longer pink, then stir in about 1/2 of the sauce mix, cooking another minutes.  Add the bean sprouts and chives to the pan, and stir-fry another minute.  Add in half of the cooked and drained noodles, incorporating into the beef mixture so they are coated with the sauce, then add the remaining sauce and remaining noodles, mix together, and remove from heat.  In a separate pan, toss the spinach, ginger and sesame oil over medium heat just until the spinach starts to wilt, then immediately remove from the heat and tuck pieces of the spinach into the beef and noodles.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
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