The title of this one was originally Korean Beef Noodles. I confess to an utter lack of Korean cuisine knowledge. All I know is that I enjoy going to a couple of our local Korean eateries, ordering the bulgogi plate, sometimes something different but rarely, and enjoying the results immensely. No, like seriously enjoying it. In fact, I’ve decided just this second that I’ll be having Korean for lunch tomorrow when this post is live. Keep your mitts off the kimchi!
I renamed this recipe because I couldn’t see how any of these ingredients were strictly Korean. Maybe there’s a dish exactly like this in every Korean eatery, but there’s also the fact that I….uh…I couldn’t get a few of the ingredients. I had to do the ‘ole substitution game. The fun thing about The Substitution Game is if you look around hard enough, and rarely with any difficulty actually, you can find an alternate path to something equally as good.
The recipe called for skirt steak, but when there’s a dearth of it, go for flank steak instead. It’ll be the closest in texture as well as leanness. Cutting against the grain will allow the meat to tear more easily when you bite into it.
This recipe came out of Food Network Magazine’s weeknight meal options, so you know it’ll be easy and quick. It really is. Once you prep everything it’s a short list of steps to a very good meal. Did I mention that yet? Yep, we loved this one – despite substituting many items!
The meat gets a quick stir-fry till almost completely cooked through. Don’t worry if you prefer beef completely done, it’s going to cook more both off the pan as it rests and then again when everything gets combined.
The noodles were another substitution. I couldn’t find cellophane noodles, or glass noodles as they’re sometimes called. For further reference these can also be labeled as bean threads. It’s a little exhausting, so many names, and I just wanted the dang noodles. I have had them in our fave Korean restaurant, yes – though they are not strictly Korean cuisine – and they are absolutely delicious in stir-fry’s like this one. Since I couldn’t get them, though, we made do with these thin Pad Thai style noodles and they were almost just as good.
That’s right, our Korean dish just went Thai. Oh well, slurp it up and enjoy, right? Besides, Thai = YUM anyway.
Oh, and I also couldn’t find shiitake mushrooms, so I used baby portabella, my fave. Who’s counting the substitutions anymore, right? It’s all good. Literally!
I love you, spinach. Is there anything else left to say about that?
The only thing I’d complain about is that the recipe is a tad bit too heavy on the sesame oil. And I don’t mean the amount we accidentally added too much of at one point.
Anyway, I mean in a specific part of the recipe, when you add the spinach to stir fry. The rest of the sauce is added in then, which has sesame oil in it. It’s really not necessary to use sesame oil in the pan to saute the spinach when it’s in the sauce. They go in at the same time. Skip that extra oil.
This is a dish of subtle yet satisfying flavors. While I like that, a lot, next time I might be tempted to top it with a little kimchi, or stir fry in in at the last minute. Oh man, why didn’t I think of that before! Good thing this is a very easy and do-able weeknight meal option. We’ll be having it again, oh yes precious. Till then, we hope you give it a try and enjoy it, too.
Asian Beef Noodles
adapted from Korean Beef Noodles, Food Network Magazine, July 2012
Prep Time: 25 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 4
- 1 5-to-6-ounce package cellophane noodles
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 12 ounces skirt steak, sliced 1/4 inch thick against the grain
- 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
- Kosher salt
- 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
- 1 cup shredded carrots (from about 3 carrots)
- 6 cups baby spinach (about 10 ounces)
Soak the noodles in warm water to soften, 5 to 10 minutes, then drain and snip into pieces with kitchen shears.
Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, 3 tablespoons sesame oil, the garlic, brown sugar and vinegar in a bowl. Put the beef in another bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture.
Heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the beef and stir-fry until just cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.
Rinse and wipe out the skillet, return to the heat and add 2 teaspoons sesame oil. Add the mushrooms and carrots; stir-fry 3 minutes. Add the noodles and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce mixture and stir-fry 1 minute; add 1/3 cup water and cook until the noodles are just tender, 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the beef.
Wipe out the skillet, return to the heat. Add the spinach and the remaining soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add to the beef and toss.
Another reason to call this simply Asian Beef Noodles is you may be like me and need to substitute a few items. If you too can’t find cellophane noodles, try pad Thai noodles, soba noodles or udon. Any of these will also make a wonderful dish.
Our grocery store only had 8 ounce sized packages of mushrooms. This was plenty.
We didn’t even measure the spinach, we just used one entire bag of baby spinach which we gauged to be roughly the right amount. Maybe. It too was plenty.
As mentioned above, if you can’t get skirt steak, see if your meat department has flank steak instead.