My favorite meal in the entire world is Thai Lemon Beef. I'm sure it's not an authentic Thai recipe. I got it from the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook... so that's my first clue. But, it's delicious. It's my ultimate comfort food. It incorporates all that I hold dear- spicy, sour, beefy, crunchy (veggies), and creamy-textured noodles.
Uh-oh. Noodles. We'll get back to that.
I tweaked the recipe, of course, so I feel fine about posting it without infringing on any copyrights. The first time I made it, way back when I was first learning (finally) to cook, I followed the recipe precisely. The original calls for 1-3(!) teaspoons of red pepper flakes. Heh. I compromised with 2. Hubby and I dug in to our dinner, tantalized by the aromas. It was delicious! It was tangy! It was HOT! The recipe supposedly makes 4 servings, but we'd pretty much heaped the entire creation onto our two plates. We barely spoke as we ate. Our tongues were melting. We had sweat running down our faces from the spice. Every few minutes, we'd break the silence by gasping about how tasty it was. And it was. But... it hurt. I made a note in the cookbook to not use more than 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Over time I've reduced even that amount, as we have observed the mystical Thai Lemon Beef Effect. This is the unexplainable way that the dish will sometimes convert one lone pepper flake into molten dragon-breath heat, while at other times half a teaspoon (of the same bottle of flakes) yields a mild result.
So, I can't have my beloved noodles. And I've tried a few kinds of other noodles- rice sticks, cellophane- they all suck. But I really wanted to have my favorite meal again... I could just eat it as is, not on top of anything. But that doesn't make good use of the sauce. Serving it over rice, while suggested by the original recipe, is somehow wrong. Then I got the idea of bok choy... at least it's Asian, right?
Thai Lemon Beef
1/2 cup soy sauce/tamari
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (I omitted, due to corn syrup)
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup or so rice vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (if not all that juicy, add some lime if you've got it)
8 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp from a jar)
NOT MORE THAN 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or if you're wimpy, just place the jar near the sauce
1 pound top round steak (or whatever you like to stir-fry)
1-3 tablespoons coconut oil (please don't cook with unstable vegetable oils!)
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, scraped and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch), less for a thinner sauce
1 head/bunch/whatever bok choy OR 1-2 packages chuka soba noodles
- Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cut steak across the grain into thin strips, place in same bowl, stir to coat well. (pic at right) Place in fridge for 30 minutes, minimum.
- Start boiling a large bowl of water, if doing noodles. Start slicing bok choy (as above) if not.
- Cut up onions and carrots, set aside.
- Drain steak, saving marinade (because I'm evil and use it for the sauce, even though there could be contamination... I bring it to a boil and call it good. Germs don't like red pepper flakes, anyway, right?)
- Saute the bok choy, if using, however you like it. I used a couple tablespoons of coconut oil and then about 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
- Stir-fry steak in hot oil (really, let the pan heat up well) over medium-high heat just until browned. Do it in two batches if one would crowd your pan too much. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Add green onions and carrots to pan, with more oil first, if needed. Stir-fry about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Err on the side of too-crisp.
- Toss noodles into boiling water, if using. Set timer for 2 minutes.
- Stir arrowroot powder into reserved marinade, then pour into skillet with veggies. Stir quickly, add steak back in, and reduce heat.
- Quickly drain noodles and rinse with water.
- Add sesame oil to bok choy or noodles and serve.
About the Most Delicious Noodles
Why do I love these particular noodles? What makes them so special? Well, their texture is unique, for one thing. Kinda stretchy, a touch chewy, and although made of wheat, with a very different taste from Italian-style pastas. And why this particular brand? As ashamed as I am to say it... I guess because of yellow dye #5. We recently moved and couldn't find this brand, so we bought a different one. Same type of noodle. Same ingredients, except no evil yellow #5. We all agreed... they were horrible. I wasn't previously aware that yellow #5 had a flavor, but apparently it does.
Oh, and... it would seem that even fermented soy is a problem. After my delicious beefy, coconut-oily, veggified dinner I am hungry. Ravenous. This bites. Maybe I'll "embrace the suck," like my hubby says, have some more banana bread, get dumb, and go to bed.