Sunday, February 6, 2011

They Ask for Chinese Food, I Give Them “Wok Noodles”

Hubby often remembers weekly trips to a small, local Chinese restaurant with his parents and brother when they were growing up. The restaurant’s original owners actually lived in Korea for a while, and the menu therefore features some Korean/Chinese dishes such as jjajangmyeon (noodles served in a black bean sauce) and jjamppong (a spicy noodle soup with different kinds of seafood). The restaurant also brings out a little bowl of kimchi (fermented cabbage) as an appetizer. Their kimchi was always my favorite dish there as it is “fresh” and not very fermented and has lots and lots of ginger. Very different from the “usual” kimchi. I could eat several bowls of it by myself…

Since we live very close to where hubby grew up, we went to the same restaurant regularly for a while (but never weekly!). Unfortunately, over the years, the restaurant switched owners several times, and each time something went “wrong.” The chicken got chewy, the beef got very fatty, and the overall flavor of the dishes just wasn’t the same anymore. On our last trip there, practically everything swam in oil, and we haven’t been back since.

A few weeks ago, we really felt like Chinese food, and went back to an “Americanized” fancy Chinese restaurant chain. We hadn’t been there since before the toddler was born and remembered that we had enjoyed the dishes. Unfortunately, we were very disappointed, as there, too, everything was covered in a thick layer in oil and the flavor just wasn’t there.

I have been making lots of stir fry dishes which I served over rice to “make up” for the lack of Chinese food in our life. But I really missed a good noodle dish. When I shopped at a Korean grocery market, I picked up a package of “Oriental Style Noodles” and decided to make my own version of “Chinese noodles.” Since the end result was really not very Chinese, yet very delicious, I’m calling the dish “Wok Noodles.”

Wok Noodles

  • “Oriental Noodles” (14 ounces) – I bought precooked noodles in the refrigerated section of a Korean grocery store (The package came with 3 7-ounce pouches, and I used two of the pouches).
  • Thin strips of sirloin (about 10 very thin slices), marinated – I had some leftover beef from the bulgogi lettuce wraps in the freezer and cut the thin slices of meat into strips. I then added the marinade ingredients (listed below) right to the bag and marinated the beef in the fridge for a few hours .
  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped (set one aside to sprinkle over the finished dish)
  • 6 medium sized carrots, sliced
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice vinegar
Beef marinade ingredients (I didn’t measure anything)
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Ggochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Freshly grated ginger, about 1 teaspoon
  • Sugar
  • Heat a little oil in a wok, and add the onions.  Sauté for a minute and then add the marinated beef. Sauté for another minute.
  • Add the carrots and green onions and sauté for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the noodles to the wok, and sauté everything for about 5 minutes.
  • Add some soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar, cover the wok, turn off the heat, and let the noodles “sit” for just a minute.
  • Plate the noodles and sprinkle with green onions. 

We all really enjoyed the dish. It had lots of flavor without a lot of grease. It’s certainly not “health” food, but the dish is a lot healthier than most restaurant versions of  “Asian noodle dishes.”  Next time, I will definitely add more veggies to the dish to make it more nutritious. And I will also make some meat-free versions. Unfortunately, we got our CSA box much later than usual, and I had planned on using some of the CSA veggies in the dish, but that didn’t happen. Because we got the box so late, there are also no CSA pics this week, but we got lots of good things (leaf lettuce, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, collard greens, green onions, red onions, carrots, apples, oranges, and mandarins), and you’ll probably see them throughout the week.

Questions: Do you like Chinese food? If so, what’s your favorite dish? Do you have a good Chinese restaurant in your area? Do you ever cook Chinese food, or “Chinese-inspired” food, at home? 

Be well,