Cooking: stir-fried rice noodles with beef and black bean sauce

This recipe is similar to the previous stir-fried rice noodle recipe but there are a couple of twists.  One is using fresh rice noodles instead of dried, and the other is different preparation technique.

I’ve been experimenting with some cooking techniques during the increased at-home time of the pandemic.  One example is the technique used by many chinese chefs called velveting. This is a method of preparing proteins that both tenderize the protein, and keep it moist and juicy.

This method is best applied to inexpensive cuts of meat.  Higher quality cuts of meat are already tender, and don’t benefit from velveting as much as cheap cuts.  Here I’m using blade steak.  Blade would normally be used for soups and stews because its tough and sinewy, and requires slow cooking to break down it’s connective tissues.

This ingredient list is for a large dish of noodles (about 3-4 servings). You’ll need:

  • 6-7 oz (175-200 grams) of blade steak (or other inexpensive cut of beef).  Look for one with decent fat marbling.
  • 10 oz (300 grams) of fresh rice noodles
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 egg (just the egg white)
  • 1/2 cup of onions, julienne cut
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth.
  • 2 tsp fermented black beans
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • cooking oil (canola, soybean or peanut oil is ideal)
  • 6-7 oz (175-200 grams) of green beans
  • 2-3 button mushrooms
  • salt & pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 x 1 tbs of starch

Start by mincing the garlic finely.

Now for the blade steak. Cut the steak in thin slices, across the grain of the meat.

Marinate the sliced beef with the soy sauce, about 1 tsp of oil, 1/4 tsp of baking soda, and the minced garlic. Mix to combine.

The baking soda is the tenderizing agent. The conventional velveting method uses much more baking soda than I do, lets it rest, and then washes the baking soda off later. While it works and tenderizes the beef very well, it also makes it rather flavorless, that’s why I use less, and I let it marinate longer..

To the marinated beef, add about 2 tbs of egg-white.

Then add 1 tbs of starch, and mix thoroughly. Let this rest in the refrigerator, covered for at least 30 minutes. The combination of the egg whites and the starch forms a sort of protective layer around the beef that keeps much of the moisture in.

Now prep the remaining ingredients, starting with slicing the vegetables. Cut the mushrooms in thin slices, julienne the onion, and trim the green beans of the tips. If the green beans are especially long, cut them in half, or until they are bite sized.

Combine the chicken stock, black bean sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, sugar in a bowl, and set aside.

This time, I’m using fresh rice noodles. Much like cooking with fresh pasta, fresh rice noodles cook very quickly.

Now we cook the beans and the mushroom first, heat the wok up over high heat.

Drop the beans into the wok and drizzle a few tablespoons of water to blanch the beans. The water will steam and evaporate in less than a minute. Once it evaporates, add some salt and pepper, and add another couple of tablespoons of water and let this evaporate as well (we’re splitting this in two steps to keep the wok really hot. Adding all the water all at once would lower the temperature of the wok too much).

Once the water evaporates, Stir fry the beans in a teaspoon of cooking oil for about 30 seconds, then set aside.

Then cook the mushrooms, starting with a drizzle of cooking oil in the wok over medium heat. Season with a little salt and pepper, but don’t “stir fry” the mushrooms, let them sizzle until they brown (about a minute), flip and let it sizzle again until it browns (about another minute). Set the mushrooms aside.

Now stir fry the rice noodles. Set the heat to medium-high, and drizzle the pan with some cooking oil.

Drop the fresh rice noodles in the hot wok, and gently stir in circles immediately., for about 30 seconds.

Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, and continue stirring. The water will boil and steam immediately, and it should soften and cook the noodles in about another 20-30 seconds.

Once the water completely evaporates, add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, stir fry for another 15 seconds, and set the noodles aside on a serving plate.

It’s worth highlighting, I’m using a non-stick frying pan here. This is intentional, my experience is that fresh rice noodles will stick to cast-iron woks and stainless steel woks, and when you stir, then they tear apart, ruining the texture of the noodles. So I’m using non-stick instead. I generally do not recommend non-stick cookware for stir-frying, but this is the exception.

Here we proceed with the marinated beef, but first we start by blanching the remaining onions

As before, add the onions to the pan over high heat, and drizzle about a 1/4 cup of water in the pan. The water should steam and boil immediately. Season with salt and pepper while it is steaming.

Once the water evaporates, drizzle with about a tablespoon of cooking oil, and stir fry.

Then add the marinated beef. Stir fry over high heat until the beef is no longer pink (about two minutes), then set the beef and onions aside.

Then we prepare the sauce.

Turn the heat down to medium, add the sauce ingredients that we combined earlier. Once it bubbles, turn off the heat. Retrieve the cooked beef, onions, mushrooms and green beans, and toss them in the sauce, just enough to coat everything. The pour everything over the noodles and serve.

The velveting method highlighted in this recipe can just as easily be applied to pork, and chicken. I find the baking soda step is unnecessary when it comes to fish and shellfish, but the egg white and starch works just fine.

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