Ginger, the rhizome of secrets — Beef Lomein

As promised, I’m back with another recipe.  Beef lomein.  Actually, this is a dish you can make with any meat (or no meat at all if that’s your preference), and to be honest, you can make it with any veggie.  The first time I made it, I used carrots, onions, finely shredded cabbage, and I think I used celery.  This time, I used the celery, onions, and carrots, but I added in mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.  I’m still working to get the pasta exactly the way I like it in lomein, but it just takes practice, and I certainly don’t seem to have a shortage of guinea pigs taste testers on hand to try what I make each time.  You can also determine which pasta you’d rather use.  I use angel hair, but if someone prefers a thicker pasta, there’s linguini.  Now, I will say that I don’t know how gluten-free pasta or wheat pasta will work since I don’t cook with either, but I’m sure if you’re used to working with either of those, you can make them work with the recipe.

As a little note, the title of this piece (save the name of the dish) comes from a poem called “Ode to the Ginger” by Kucinta Setia and can be found on Edible Words: 11 Poems and 1 Story about Food by Young Asian Writers (Asian Voices).

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs beef, tenderized, cut into thin strips

1 stalk of celery, sliced thin (I slice at an angle)

5-8 baby carrots, sliced thin (also at an angle)

6 mushrooms, sliced thin

1/4 cup onion, sliced thin

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1 can bamboo shoots

(optional – quarter of a cabbage, cut into thin strips)

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 cups beef broth

1/4 cup rice wine

2 tbsp soy sauce (when I made this one, I used 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tbsp dark mushroom soy sauce, but it’s whatever you prefer)

1 tbsp white vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp corn starch

Lomein ingredients
Lomein ingredients w/beef

DIRECTIONS

1. Prepare all of your ingredients.  I think I’ve said before that, while this can seem time consuming, it is the most efficient way to cook your meal.  Cut everything in advance, measure out your spices and liquid ingredients, and when you’re preparing some gravies and sauces, it’s even best to have your glass measuring cup set up with the liquids mixed together already.  With your beef, you’re going to want to tenderize the hell out of it, no matter what cut you’ve got.  Pretend you’re Thor and you’re fighting against the Chitauri, okay?  I mean, really let go.  When you’ve tenderized the meat on the first go, this is when you slice it into thin strips and then tenderize it again.  Set aside.  Cut all your veggies, open your cans of water chestnuts and bamboo shoots and drain, measure your liquids and spices.  It seems like extra dishes to do, but if you’ve got your timing down, you can wash all your prep dishes while you’re cooking and have less to do when dinner’s over.  Trust me, this can be done, and you’ll adore yourself all the more for doing it this way.

2. Go ahead and turn on the heat for your pasta water.  Just make sure that once you put your pasta in, you watch it to make sure that it doesn’t cook past al dente.  In fact, if you can time it right, cook it just under that because you’ll add it to the meat/sauce once it’s all done, and you don’t want it to over cook at that point and become squishy.  (Squishy pasta is one of the signs of the Apocalypse, I’m sure of it)

3. In your wok/”every day pan”/frying pan (make sure it’s a deep one), add in about a tablespoon of oil — a light oil without much flavor to it — and turn on the heat.  Add in your garlic and ginger and stir so that neither burns.  Immediately add in your veggies and stir.

Sautee onions celery, carrots

You want to stir these until all the veggies begin to soften a little but not get mushy.  You’d do the same if you added cabbage.

4. Add in the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.  Stir until they’ve been covered with the garlic/ginger flavor.  Then add in the beef (or other meat).  Now with the thin-sliced beef, you only want to cook until at least one side is brown and then add in your sauce.  The heat and sauce will cook it the rest of the way, but it won’t be in any way tough.  Chicken you obviously want all the way cooked on both sides of your thinly cut meat, but again, the heat and sauce will cook it the rest of the way.

Add waterchestnuts, beef and bamboo shoots

5. In your prep work, you should’ve taken your larger glass measuring cup and added in the beef broth (I use the powdered beef caldo by Knorr, so use HOT water to dissolve it quickly), rice wine, vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  If you use water as hot as you can get it, the brown sugar will dissolve in and blend really well into the flavors.  After you’ve added the meat into the pan, pour this sauce in and make sure the veggies and meat are coated thoroughly.  Make a slurry with the cornstarch (or arrowroot, if you’ve got a corn allergy) and hot water.  Reduce the heat to medium and add in the slurry and stir until the sauce begins to thicken.

Add sauce

6. By this point, your pasta should be done to al dente or just under.  Drain out all the water and then add to the sauce and stir until all the pasta is coated.  If you’ve made the right amount of sauce, there won’t be a lot of it to pool onto a plate or in a bowl but enough to coat the pasta and keep it from being sticky.

Add noodles

At this point, turn the heat off completely and move the wok/pan to the center of the stove where the heat will keep it warm but won’t continue to cook the pasta.  Serve up and eat!  This is one of those dishes where I haven’t figured out how to make where there aren’t a couple of days’ worth of leftovers, but I haven’t heard anyone here arguing about that.

Finished Lomein

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