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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time


While my white friends always see me as the Asian one, my Asian friends often see me as the white one. It’s a peculiar situation I’m in. I’m not confused about my culture or anything like that, I am who I am. But foodwise. I’m kinda iffy. I don’t really like Chinese food, though I’m 100% Cantonese, and first generation to boot (my parents immigrated when they were in college). They kinda dropped the ball on teaching me Chinese (which I never let them forget) but their intentions were good–they didn’t want their kids to get put in ESL classes and were scared by my brother’s performance in kindergarten (he ONLY knew Chinese). They raised us on Chinese food though, and consequently, food related words comprise about 80% of my Chinese repertoire. I HATED Chinese food growing up. Still dislike a lot of it. I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled a large portion of Asia though, and have all kinds of Asian friends, and I absolutely can’t get enough Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, etc., etc., food. Basically any Asian that’s not Chinese.
One of my absolute favorite dishes of all time, though, just so happens to be Chinese. Beef noodles & soy sauce eggs.

Like I said in my last post, I’m trying to be all ethnic and stuff now I guess…it’s crazy to think about how little I know about my own culture’s cuisine when I have a small encyclopedia of knowledge of baking. So in my venture to become a better Chinese person, I decided it would be a good idea to make something I actually like. A lot.

Soy sauce eggs (or lu dan) were always a treat growing up. I LOVE eggs in general and this hardboiled variety is braised in a flavorful soy sauce-based sauce. How does that not sound good? I grew an affinity for beef noodles later on in my life, around the beginning of high school, but now they’re my favorite type of noodle. Right up there with ramen from Shinsengumi and udon from Oumi Sasaya.

Traditionally, these things aren’t really served together. They use the same basic sauce/broth mixture though and I love them both…so why wouldn’t I put them together? It just made sense.

I invited my friends Rachel & Jonathan over to try this recipe out with me, as they’re my most trusted opinions in Asian food.

The recipe was pretty easy and straightforward and overall I was presently surprised with the result. I will definitely be making this again and can’t wait to have this recipe ready for those cold & rainy Berkeley days next fall/winter (a little early to be thinking about, but it’s just such a pleasant thought).

BEEF NOODLES WITH SOY SAUCE EGGS

adapted from The Cooking of Joy

*Though the original recipe says that this yields 6 servings, my friends and I have large appetites so it ended up being about 4 servings for us

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 scallions, chopped + 2-3 more
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1.5 star anise
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chuck beef cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 1 3/4 lb. fresh egg noodles
  • 1 small head napa cabbage, cut into strips (I used romaine lettuce here because I didn’t have napa cabbage; both work well)
  • 2-3 heads of baby bok choy
  • 9 large eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. In large saucepan, saute the 3 scallions, garlic, ginger, and anise in 2 T oil for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook until just browned.
  2. Add the wine, soy sauce, water, and sugar, and heat to boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 1.5-2 hours (the longer the better; this beef should be super tender—practically falling apart).
  3. Meanwhile, hard boil the 9 eggs in a separate pot. (I had some difficulty peeling my eggs yesterday…upon further research I found it was because the water I dunked my eggs in post-boil wasn’t cold enough. Oh well.) Peel the eggs when cooled.
  4. 30 minutes before the beef is done (or one hour after you started cooking the stew), place the peeled hard boiled eggs in the stew mixture and begin braising them. Try to get the eggs as deep into the sauce as you can, and if they’re not fully covered, make sure to rotate them now and again so all sides get some sauce action.
  5. In another pot, bring some water to a boil and add the egg noodles. After a few minutes, add the veggies and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  6. Set aside a small bowl of the beef stew mixture and remove the eggs. This step is optional, but I’m looking forward to eating this set-aside-stuff tonight for dinner over rice.
  7. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil.
  8. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls and distribute out the veggies, placing some fresh chopped scallions on top. 
  9. Ladle the beef soup mixture over the top and add an egg to each bowl.

Voila! My favorite Chinese dish.

The egg noodles were delicious; I forgot to buy some at 99 Ranch when my mom was in town so I did some research and found out that Berkeley Bowl carried them. Good ol’ Berkeley. Plus, they were really cheap and appeared to be pretty fresh.

The wine I used was really cheap, $4 for a bottle at the local liquor store. I got my money’s worth though because we all enjoyed our bowl of noodles with a glass of wine. The perfect college meal.

The only way to follow a meal like that was obviously to scoop some mint chip ice cream on top of the giant chocolate chip cookies I made earlier in the day and gorge s’more.

I may be getting a little too ambitious here, but now that I have the

 anise, I really want to try making my own pho. I don’t know when thiswould happen, but I would be so happy if I could figure it out.

Hurray for Asian food and becoming (slightly) more Asian!

Last thing, I went to Sur la Table today with Nick, Andy, and Chris, and fell into a slight state of depression.  I wanted EVERYTHING. Seriously, though.  I ended up walking out with a set of 3 vegetable peelers, a cheese grater, a Microplane zester, and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I really need to get started making some money so I can one day have all that amaaaazing cookwear in my dream kitchen.

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