rice or noodles?

Rice or noodles? I am of the latter category, I would take a bowl of noodles over rice any day. Most rice preferring people argue that noodles aren’t as filling as rice and they tend to get hungry again shortly after, an interesting theory, I’ll still stick with noodles. Asian rice noodles, mung bean noodles or a plate full of pasta and a glass of good wine is my ideal meal. Here’s one of my favorites.

Most Asian countries seem to have their own take on this noodle dish. When I was a kid my parents would order the chow fun with gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and beef at this old Chinese dive, Ken’s Restaurant on Ellice Ave. in Winnipeg, it was so good. The marinated beef was so tender, the garlicky, sweet gravy like sauce mixed with the noodles and the crunch of Chinese broccoli made it the perfect meal. It must be well over 30 years now since they opened their doors and Ken’s still there, open late and still serving good grub.

The Thai version of this dish is called Rahd Na and my friend, Sandy makes a mean rahd na. Over the years I’ve tried to master this dish and I finally got it by realizing that I just needed to be heavy handed with the flavorings, being timid with the sugar and seasonings does not apply here.

And conveniently for me, there’s a produce stand at the local Farmer’s Market in Leucadia every sunday that I can always count on for Asian greens and herbs, freshly picked and great prices too.

Rahd Na with Grass Fed Beef and Gai Lan

4 oz. grass fed beef (sliced against the grain into thin bite size pieces)

3 Tbsp grapeseed/canola oil

2 large handfuls of fresh flat rice noodles (the wider the cut the better)

2 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp white soy bean paste

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

2 cups chicken broth

2 large handfuls gai lan (Chinese broccoli, cut into 2″ pieces, stems and leaves)

2 tsp cornstarch

4 Tbsp water

freshly ground black pepper

ground roasted thai chili flakes to taste

sliced serrano chilis pickled in vinegar to taste

Directions

1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil, add rice noodles and dark soy sauce and pan fry til noodles are heated through and the edges of the noodles start to crisp up a bit. Plate the noodles in a big bowl, set aside.

2. Using the same pan heat 1 tbsp oil on high, add the minced garlic and reduce heat to medium high, cook the garlic til lightly golden then add the sliced beef, sugar and oyster sauce and continue cooking, stirring til beef is nearly cooked through. Then throw in the Chinese broccoli (stems first as they take a bit longer to cook, then the leaves) and mix.

3. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl.

4. Add the chicken broth, freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like black pepper so I’m very generous with the turns on my pepper mill). Add the corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce, continue stirring. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency of the sauce, pour everything on top of the noodles in a big bowl.

5. Once the dish is plated I then add a teaspoon of dry roasted ground thai chili flakes (add more or less depending on whether you like things spicy or not), also add a tbsp full of sliced serrano chilis in vinegar (add more or less depending again on your spice intake and whether you like things with a sour kick). I tend to like a sour note to offset the sweetness so I even squeeze a piece of fresh lime to top it off. Mix it up and feast.

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