Sunday, October 11, 2009

(Chinese) Beef Cubes and Mushrooms with Red Wine Sauce and Homemade Pasta

I think of this recipe as being a bit inspired since I had a picture in my head from the outset and then did two things differently from that grand vision.
I wanted to make a beef and mushroom stir-fry with noodles again, and when I saw a good deal on a nice oven roast at the grocery store the other night, I was almost giddy with excitement. Yesterday, I got the opportunity to start cooking it up. My original plan had been to make something nearly identical to a previous recipe, but variety, or at least variation, is really the spice of life, and inspiration hit me as I was making it.

With Asian cooking, it's a wonderful idea to get everything arranged before you start because the stir-frying process is fast an furious. That means, since I wanted to make noodles, that my first step was to salt some water and start it on its road toward boiling, and my second step was to get the ingredients cut up. Here's what went into this:

  • About a pound of beef roast, cut into half-inch cubes;
  • Eight or ten nice shiitake mushrooms, trimmed of their stems and sliced thinly;
  • Six large white mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly;
  • Four medium cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped finely (first);
  • About half an inch of ginger sliced across and then into thin matchsticks;
  • Six spring onions, cleaned and chopped cross-sectionally including much of the greens;
  • Most of one fresh, red cayenne pepper, sliced thinly;
  • About a tablespoon of soy sauce;
  • About two or three tablespoons of a rich, table-worthy red wine;
  • About a tablespoon of red wine vinegar;
  • Salt and black pepper to taste;
  • Two or three tablespoons of peanut or canola oil for cooking;
  • One small recipe (about two cups of flour worth) of homemade shaved pasta (a recipe is here).
Once the water was heating, I chopped up all of the veggies except the spring onions (sorry, no pictures -- I couldn't find the camera until after I finished cooking!) and put them on a plate. Then I cut the beef and and spring onions and let them wait on the cutting board while I made the pasta dough. By then, the water was boiling and I had put the oil in my wok over high heat and let it get very hot. The veggies went in first, with a little salt and pepper, and sizzled and fried until they were getting soft. Meanwhile, I shaved the pasta dough into the boiling water with my freshly sharpened chef's knife.

After stirring and tossing the veggies and letting the mushrooms reduce in volume rather dramatically (about 5 minutes, probably), I took them out of the pan and put them back on their plate to wait. Once I let the wok get properly hot again (about a minute), I put the beef and onions in with a little more salt and black pepper, freshly ground, of course. Just a little stirring of that happened before the noodles were done cooking, so I drained those.

When the beef was approximately 2/3 of the way to being done (probably just two or three minutes), I added the soy sauce, wine, and vinegar, stirring things through, waited about thirty or forty seconds for some of the alcohol to boil off and flavors to mingle, and then I added the mushrooms back in. Another minute or minute and a half later, the meat was just finished, so I turned off the heat to the wok and added the noodles to the pan (going strictly against the traditional way of enjoying noodle-based Chinese food and not worrying about it at all). After a little stir and a little rest for the dish, I took the above picture and then dug in. It was absolutely fantastic!

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