Chinese style lo mein

chicken lo mein

The drawbacks to this recipe are its long list of ingredients and its intricate method. If you can overlook those, then this is a delicious recipe that will go with any kind of meat. To make it vegan, use tofu instead of meat, and instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth. I do NOT recommend you use the Asian style noodles available at some supermarkets uptown Manhattan. ATK is right; they are gummy. The best substitute is actually linguine. I have yet to try a gluten-free noodle in this recipe. I hesitate because they are at least twice the price of wheat and have the same amount of carbs. I used regular green cabbage in this recipe rather than Napa/Chinese Cabbage, because it holds its crispness in high heat and sauces. I also substituted carrots for the mushrooms but you can use both. The original recipe used boneless pork spare-ribs but I hate fatty ribs, so I used chicken breast in this recipe.

Chinese Style Lo Mein (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients
For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver, sliced thin (can use chicken or beef or firm tofu)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the vegetables
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal

For the lo mein
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine if egg noodles are unavailable
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, plus extra if desired
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Instructions
Prepare water for boiling noodles. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

Make the pork marinade and sauce. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in small bowl; add meat and liquid smoke, if using. Toss, making sure all pieces are coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.

Cook the meat. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of meat in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and meat is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Cook the vegetables. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with meat.

Assemble vegetables and meat. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return meat-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook noodles. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or 10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly with a pair of tongs until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately in individual bowls or plates.

Serve. ATK forgot to mention how to eat this Chinese style. Simply top noodles with scallions and cilantro and extra garlic-chili sauce, if desired.

beef broccoli with sichuan pepper and japanese zucchini stir fry

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Sichuan pepper is actually not a pepper at all nor is it related to black pepper. If it smells and tastes familiar that’s because it is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, particularly  in Five-Spice Powder. To me it has a sweet smell, almost like cinnamon, and like cinnamon, it is somewhat bitter. Use it in small quantities because although it does not have the heat of the more familiar peppers, it does have a numbing effect on the tongue. To me, water tastes salty after eating too much Sichuan peppercorns!

Beef Broccoli with Sichuan Pepper

This is a variation on the popular dish in Chinese restaurant menus. The beef is tender and the broccoli is crisp tender, with a hint of sesame. In Chinese cooking, sesame oil is used to flavor food after it is cooked. It is too delicate to stand up to heat in cooking. A little bit, like a teaspoon, is  enough. I serve this beef broccoli with Sichuan pepper with brown-white rice mix because AJ thinks brown rice alone is too dry. The ratio is 2:1 brown rice to white rice.

3/4 pound lean boneless beef steak, sliced across the grain into thin strips
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons soy sauce or soy-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Blanch broccoli florets in a pot of boiling water until bright green, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, put the beef strips, peppercorns, soy sauce or soy-ginger sauce, add cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

Put canola oil in a large wok or skillet, and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and stir-fry until it begins to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and toss to heat through. The beef should have pink streaks. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasoning; adding a little soy sauce, if desired. Serve immediately with steamed brown rice and Japanese Zucchini Stir Fry.

Japanese Zucchini Stir Fry

I found this recipe in Real Food Real Easy (2010) by George Stella. The recipes in this book use just a few ingredients (not more than nine) and the method is simple and straightforward. I really needed this cookbook since I started a new job this week, and I haven’t had much time for anything complicated. So this marks a return to my roots–simple stir fries with fresh ingredients.

2 medium zucchini
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

  1. To toast sesame seeds, put them in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Slice ends off zucchini and discard. Cut each zucchini in half crosswise then split each half vertically in two. Slice each quarter into thick sticks. Cut quartered onion into 1/4 inch thick strips
  2. Heat oil in a large work or skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add zucchini and onions and cook without stirring 2-4 minutes or until browned on the undersides. Stir once and continue cooking 2-3 minutes to continue browning.
  3. Add soy sauce and black pepper, tossing to combine. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil and sesame seeds.

buckwheat noodles with beef and sweet ginger scallion sauce

Okay, okay, it’s not vegetarian! That is beef sitting on top of the noodles.

Buckwheat noodles, also called soba, are delicious, as I discovered last week when I added them to the Thai beef soup kao lao. Since I had an extra packet, I decided to try this recipe from a1dente.wordpress.com. I made two tiny adjustments. Instead of chili oil, I substituted vegetable oil and added 1/4 teaspoon chili paste, and I used maple syrup instead of honey.

I also made up my own beef marinade, but you can substitute soy sauce or teriyaki sauce for my marinade, and you can use chicken instead of beef, and firm tofu instead of any kind of meat at all. I spooned the noodles on top of chopped romaine lettuce. It’s delicious, trust me!

Buckwheat Noodles (Soba) with Beef and Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce

8-9 oz. dry soba/buckwheat noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cup scallions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili oil (I used 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/4 teaspoon chili paste)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (I used organic maple syrup)
Coarse salt
Fresh ground black pepper

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

For meat lovers:
1 lb beef sirloin steak sliced into 3 inch strips across the grain
1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon soy-ginger sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  1. Mix all the scallions, ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl. Set it aside for 10 -15 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  2. For Meat Lovers: Skip this step if you want the vegetarian version. Season the steak strips with hoi sin and soy-ginger sauces and the cornstarch. Chinese cooks often use cornstarch as a binder and thickener. According to America’s Test Kitchen, a little cornstarch seals the marinade to the meat during cooking. Chinese cooks have known this all along! Let sit 10-15 minutes while the noodle sauce flavors are developing. Heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium high heat and stir fry the beef until it just turns brown. Even though a little red streaks remain, stop. Do not overcook the beef.
  3. Boil the soba noodles per the package’s instructions and drain. Toss the noodles with the sauce and sesame seeds. Serve noodles hot on a bed of romaine lettuce. Spoon beef strips on top of noodles.

grilled ginger-lime beef

Not usually a fan of beef, I find it tough rather than tender. This is another recipe from the Cooking Light Eat Smart Guide: 200-Calorie cookbook that I reviewed last week.  I changed the method from stir fry to grill  because the steaks were so thin I was afraid of overcooking them. I only seared them 30 seconds in the George Foreman grill. And because I was afraid they’d cool and toughen, I served them right away on a bed of rice vermicelli. As a stir-fry, this dish would have been 197 calories for a 2/3 cup serving of beef.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
1 ½ teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
12 ounces boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
½ cup diagonally cut green onions, optional
4 lime wedges, optional
Cellophane noodles or vermicelli

Preparation
1. Combine sugar, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, pepper, and oil in a small bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
2. Heat half a small saucepan with water. When it is boiling turn off the heat and put in two bundles of vermicelli. Let stand 10 minutes or until soft and transparent. Drain well and set aside.
3. Heat the grill. Add steak; cook 30 seconds or until browned. Remove from heat. Slice and drizzle evenly with ginger-lime mixture. Garnish with green onions and lime wedges, if desired. Serve on a bed of drained cooked cellophane noodles or vermicelli.

flank steak lettuce wraps

flank steak lettuce wrap with two salsas

Tonight’s menu was supposed to feature Horseradish Crusted Beef Tenderloin from the Light and Healthy cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, after visiting two supermarkets, I could not find beef tenderloin. So I went for another Test Kitchen recipe instead, Steak Tacos. I made one low-carb adjustment to it and that was I served it with iceberg lettuce instead of tortillas, and I served the steak “wraps” with two kinds of salsa, one spicy and one not. I grilled the steak two strips at a time in the Foreman Grill for just 3 minutes to get them at medium; they turned out quite tender and juicy. For salsa accompaniments I recommend the pineapple-green apple salsa and an avocado-tomato salsa. Either one (or both) can be spicy.

INGREDIENTS
Herb Paste
1/2    cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
3    medium garlic cloves , roughly chopped
3    medium scallions , roughly chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1    medium jalapeño chile , stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped (keep the seeds if more heat is desired)
1/2    teaspoon ground cumin
1/4    cup vegetable oil

Steak
1    tablespoon fresh lime juice
1    flank steak (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and cut lengthwise (with grain) into 4 equal pieces (see note)

Note: Cut the steak in half lengthwise with the grain. Then cut each half again lengthwise following the grain.

1    tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1/2    teaspoon sugar
1/2    teaspoon ground black pepper
2    tablespoons vegetable oil

Tacos (serve with lettuce or with the following)
12    (6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed
Fresh cilantro leaves
Minced white or red onion
Lime wedges

INSTRUCTIONS
1. FOR THE HERB PASTE: Pulse cilantro, garlic, scallions, jalapeño, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, ten to twelve 1-second pulses, scraping down sides as necessary. Add oil and process until mixture is smooth and resembles pesto, about 15 seconds, scraping down sides of workbowl as necessary. Transfer 2 tablespoons herb paste to medium bowl; whisk in lime juice and set aside.
2. FOR THE STEAK: Using dinner fork, poke each piece of steak 10 to 12 times on each side. Place in large baking dish; rub all sides of steak pieces evenly with salt and then coat with remaining herb paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
3. Scrape herb paste off steak and sprinkle all sides of pieces evenly with sugar and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch heavy- bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place steak in skillet and cook until well browned, about 3 minutes. Flip steak and sear until second side is well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs, stand each piece on a cut side and cook, turning as necessary, until all cut sides are well browned and internal temperature registers 125 to 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 7 minutes. Transfer steak to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.
4. FOR THE TACOS: Using sharp chef’s knife or carving knife, slice steak pieces across grain into 1/8-inch-thick pieces. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with herb paste-lime juice mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Spoon small amount of sliced steak into center of each warm tortilla and serve immediately, passing toppings separately.

low salt vietnamese rice noodle soup with meat

Vietnamese rice noodle soup or pho is a light soup. And most people would agree that it’s “light”  because it doesn’t have cream in it. It has low-sodium chicken broth from a can in it.  It’s true that canned low-sodium chicken broth is more convenient, but let’s talk about how much salt is good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic we should consume 2300mg salt per day or 1500mg if you are over 51. If you use canned low-sodium broth and use the fish sauce (1/4 cup), salt (to taste), and soy sauce (2 tablespoons low sodium)  in the amounts given in the original recipe, then you will consume between 1440-1450mg sodium per serving. So I made many changes to this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Light and Healthy cookbook.  I made the soup using home-made broth as its base. I have also cut down the fish sauce as well as  eliminated the soy sauce and the sugar–you don’t need it if the salt is reduced. And, I suggest tasting the soup before adding any more salt or seasoning sauce.

Broth (home-made)
2 onions, minced, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 5 inches only, trimmed and sliced thin (See note)

Note: Cut off and discard all but the bottom 5 inches. Trim the stem end. Peel and discard any discolored sheaths on the stalk. Split the stalk in half lengthwise then mince each half crosswise.

1 teaspoon canola oil
4 chicken wing tips
10 cups water
2-4 star anise pods
2-4 whole cloves
Salt and pepper

Noodles, Meat, Garnish
12 oz (1/4 inch wide) dried flat rice noodles
3 cups bean spouts
1 cup fresh Thai basil (see note)

Note: You can substitute Italian basil. Simply roll a bundle of  leaves into a cigar-shape then slice thinly.

1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves only (see note)

Note: Wash and dry a bunch of cilantro. Holding the stems in one hand and resting the leaves lightly on the cutting board, slice downward with a sharp knife to take off the leaves.

2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1 fresh Thai, Serrano, or jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
1 lime, cut into wedges
12 ounces beef or pork tenderloin, sliced 1/4 inch thick medallions. If you wish, you can slice larger medallions in half.

  1. For the broth. I combined the onions, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, and oil in a large pot. Two large pots, actually, since the Teeny Tiny Kitchen needs a Dutch oven.  Then I covered the pots and cooked the onion mixture over medium  low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions  softened, 8 to 10 minutes. I turned up the heat to medium and added the chicken wings then sautéed them until they were no longer pink. I reduced the e heat to low and covered the pot(s) again. I simmered the chicken 20 minutes to release their juices. Meanwhile I froze the beef or pork so it will slice easier.
  2. While the chicken was simmering, I boiled the water in a kettle.  To the chicken mixture in the pots, I stirred in the boiling water, star anise, and cloves and simmered again. I covered the pots and reduced the heat to low, cooking until the flavors blended, about 20 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, I strained the broth, discarding the solids, tasting and adjusting seasonings with fish sauce or salt and pepper. I combined the two pots of  broth into a clean pot.
  3. For the noodles, meat and garnish. I boiled 4 quarts water in a large pot. I removed the pot from the heat, added the noodles, and let them sit, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender but still chewy, about 6-10 minutes. Don’t let the noodles sit too long. By this time, the meat was ready for slicing.
  4. Immediately I drained the noodles, dividing them evenly among individual serving bowls, topping each with 1/2 cup of the bean sprouts, and set them aside. Next I arranged the basil, cilantro, scallions, chili, and lime wedges on a plate and set them aside for garnishes.
  5. To cook the meat, I returned the strained broth to a simmer over medium high heat, then reduced the heat to low. I added the meat to the broth and braised it until it was no longer pink, about 1 minute. Here’s a tip: I dunked the meat in the soup using a Chinese cooking strainer.  Ladle the hot soup over the noodles and serve, passing the garnishes separately. The meat should have that just-tender melt-in-the-mouth feel so don’t overcook it!

Per 1 1/2 cup serving: Cal 360; Fat 5g; Sat fat 1.5g; Chol 40mg; Carb 60g; Protein 18g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 1440mg (these figures will vary if you make your own broth)

Variation

  • Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Chicken. Follow the recipe for Low Salt Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup with Meat by substituting 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the broth in step 2 and simmering until the chicken registers 160-165˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 10-15 minutes. Remove the breasts from the broth before straining. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite size pieces. Substitute the shredded chicken for the meat in step 5.

Per 1 1/2 cup serving: Cal 340; Fat 2.5g; Sat fat 0g; Chol 35mg; Carb 60g; Protein 18g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 1450mg (These calculations will vary if you make your own broth)

foodie meets beefsteak

Look what I ate!

Since moving back to the States, part of my adjustment  is getting to know steak again. A rib-eye steak is a great re-introduction to the species. I sprinkled the steak with bit of Montreal steak spice on both sides and grilled it over  indirect heat for 10-12 minutes (5-6 minutes per side). What you see here is the result served with spaghetti squash and broccoli.