Monday, April 24, 2017

Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles

     A Classic Flavor Combination!
     For many people, marinate can be a confusing term.  When some people hear the word marinate, they picture something soaking in a flavored liquid for several hours, but that is not usually the rule of thumb in Asian cuisines.  Many Chinese, Korean and Japanese recipes only require marinating meats for a minute or two, which is just long enough to slightly increase flavor.
     Chinese chefs use a technique of combining all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including the corn starch, before the stir fry begins.  The vegetables and meat are stir fried and the uncooked marinade is added to create the sauce.  Not one drop of food is wasted when using this cooking technique and the food is cooked in a matter of minutes.  Being able to cook quickly is essential in a busy Chinese restaurant.
     Often a featured item, like thin sliced beef, is marinated in the cold sauce mixture before the cooking starts.  The meat is removed from the sauce after briefly marinating, then it is stir fried.  The cornstarch in the cold marinade creates a velvety coating on the meat after it is briefly stir fried and the rest of the sauce mixture is added.  This technique is called "Velveting" and it takes good timing to master.  Stir frying for too much time or boiling the sauce for too long will cause the velvety coating to disappear.
     Udon Noodles originated in China.  They were introduced to Japan during the Edo period of history.  Udon have a different name in China, but the Japanese name of these noodles is what most people recognize in modern times.
     Today's Udon Noodle recipe only takes about three minutes to cook!  This recipe is cooked quickly over a high flame.  The ingredients cook so quickly, that the flavors remain crisp and bright tasting.  The main thing to remember when cooking a fast pace recipe, is to treat the noodles gently once they are added to the sauce in the pan or they will break apart.  A Chinese wok spatula is perfect for tossing the noodles with the sauce.  Never breaking a noodle is a hallmark of a great Chinese chef!
     Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Prepared Udon Noodles are a convenient product.  Vacuum sealed packages of pre-cooked Udon Noodles are available in Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling, so the pre-cooked Udon Noodles can be reheated later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Select a 3/4" thick piece of beef top round steak.
     Place the steak on a cutting board.
     Hold the knife at a 35º to 40º angle to the cutting board and cut the beef into wide ribbon slices that are about 3/16" thick.  (About 4 ounces will be needed for this recipe.)
     Step 3:  Place the portion of thin sliced beef in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 tablespoons of rice wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a few long thin strips of fresh orange zest.  (About 1/2 teaspoon in volume.)
     Add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the bowl aside and let the beef marinate for 5 minutes.
     Step 5:  Cut 1 1/2 tablespoons of small diced carrot and set it aside.
     Cut 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion top and set it aside.
     Place 1 portion of Udon Noodles in a pasta net and set it aside.
     Step 6:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Remove the beef from the marinade and set the marinade aside.
     Add the beef it to the hot oil.
     Stir fry till the beef is almost fully cooked and a few brown highlights appear.  (This step only takes less than one minute!)
     Step 7:  Remove the stir fried beef from the pan and set it aside on a platter.
     Pour the excess oil out of the pan into a container.
     Step 8:  Return the pan to medium/medium high heat.
     Return the beef to the pan.
     Add the reserved diced carrots.
     Stir fry till the carrots become aromatic.  (About 10 seconds.)
     Step 9:  Add the reserved marinade.
     Bring the sauce to a boil.
     Boil till the cornstarch turns clear and the sauce thickens to a medium thin consistency.
     Step 10:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat and keep the Ginger Orange Beef warm.
     Step 11:  Use the pasta net to dip the portion of Udon Noodles in the boiling water till they are hot.
     Use the pasta net to drain the water off of the noodles.
     Add the hot noodles to the Ginger Orange Beef in the pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 12:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles on the center of a plate.  Try to expose the slices of beef around the surface of the noodles.
     Pour any remaining sauce over the noodles.
     Sprinkle the reserved sliced green onion tops over the noodles.
     Chinese stir fry techniques will keep a cook constantly moving.  The flavors of soy, ginger and orange are perfect with beef and noodles!

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