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Leek and Beef Noodles

Making use of affordable ingredients

On nights when I’m hungry and I don’t feel like experimenting with new recipes and cuisines, I always default to what I know the best.

Given just a handful of dependable pantry items, some fresh vegetables and a small amount of protein, I’m confident that I’ll be able to work some quick magic in the wok to create something really tasty.

I was having one of these nights a couple of weeks ago, when the hunger was mounting fast and I didn’t want to spend too time deliberating what I’d make. So with the knowledge that I already had some dried egg noodles at home, I stopped by the supermarket to pick up meat and vegetables for a really speedy stir fry. My stomach was saying it fancied some beef, carrots and broccoli.

At the shop I picked up a pack of rump steak. The beauty of a classic Cantonese marinade is that you don’t need the most expensive cuts to achieve tender strips of meat. I also stuck to a small amount of beef. Stir fries are terrifically economical because they don’t rely on meat as the predominant component. Instead, they follow a philosophy whereby adding just a few morsels of meat is enough to give a dishes a touch of richness and depth of flavour. Using just a small amount of meat also means that the other fresh ingredients aren’t overwhelmed.

When I got to the vegetable section of the shop, I made a beeline for the aforementioned carrots and broccoli. But lo and behold, it was nearly closing time on a Sunday evening and the fresh produce had almost been completely rinsed. There was, however, one pack of leeks left. I quickly popped the pack into my basket.

Leeks might seem like an unusual choice for a Chinese dish, but as the baton-like cousin to onions, shallots, garlic and spring onions, they actually work exceptionally well because of their aromatic flavour. They’re also very cheap in the shops at the moment because they’re coming into season as a cooler-temperature crop. I’ll always remember how several years ago, Mum substituted leeks for cabbage in her famous market noodles because of a cabbage shortage in Christchurch that made them really expensive. Moving to New Zealand meant that Mum had to constantly substitute new ingredients into her favourite Chinese recipes, making use of what was available locally and at a decent price when she couldn’t find the traditional ingredients. This fluid and versatile way of cooking can help us to discover fantastic new combinations.

Aside from how cost-effective today’s recipe is, it’s also absolutely mouthwatering. Tender strips of marinated beef and delicate leeks make the perfect bedfellows to wok-fried egg noodles – resulting in a dish that really warms the cockles on a chilly autumn night.

Serves
3-4
Ingredients

250g rump steak, sliced against the grain into thin strips
1 trimmed leek, thinly sliced
180g dried egg noodles
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 pinch sugar
2 generous pinches salt
vegetable oil
chopped red chillies to garnish (optional)

for the marinade
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tsp ginger, finely diced
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
2 pinches sugar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp water

On nights when I’m hungry and I don’t feel like experimenting with new recipes and cuisines, I always default to what I know the best.

Given just a handful of dependable pantry items, some fresh vegetables and a small amount of protein, I’m confident that I’ll be able to work some quick magic in the wok to create something really tasty.

I was having one of these nights a couple of weeks ago, when the hunger was mounting fast and I didn’t want to spend too time deliberating what I’d make. So with the knowledge that I already had some dried egg noodles at home, I stopped by the supermarket to pick up meat and vegetables for a really speedy stir fry. My stomach was saying it fancied some beef, carrots and broccoli.

At the shop I picked up a pack of rump steak. The beauty of a classic Cantonese marinade is that you don’t need the most expensive cuts to achieve tender strips of meat. I also stuck to a small amount of beef. Stir fries are terrifically economical because they don’t rely on meat as the predominant component. Instead, they follow a philosophy whereby adding just a few morsels of meat is enough to give a dishes a touch of richness and depth of flavour. Using just a small amount of meat also means that the other fresh ingredients aren’t overwhelmed.

When I got to the vegetable section of the shop, I made a beeline for the aforementioned carrots and broccoli. But lo and behold, it was nearly closing time on a Sunday evening and the fresh produce had almost been completely rinsed. There was, however, one pack of leeks left. I quickly popped the pack into my basket.

Leeks might seem like an unusual choice for a Chinese dish, but as the baton-like cousin to onions, shallots, garlic and spring onions, they actually work exceptionally well because of their aromatic flavour. They’re also very cheap in the shops at the moment because they’re coming into season as a cooler-temperature crop. I’ll always remember how several years ago, Mum substituted leeks for cabbage in her famous market noodles because of a cabbage shortage in Christchurch that made them really expensive. Moving to New Zealand meant that Mum had to constantly substitute new ingredients into her favourite Chinese recipes, making use of what was available locally and at a decent price when she couldn’t find the traditional ingredients. This fluid and versatile way of cooking can help us to discover fantastic new combinations.

Aside from how cost-effective today’s recipe is, it’s also absolutely mouthwatering. Tender strips of marinated beef and delicate leeks make the perfect bedfellows to wok-fried egg noodles – resulting in a dish that really warms the cockles on a chilly autumn night.

GET THE METHOD →

Combine all of the marinade ingredients with the beef in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Soak the egg noodles in boiling water until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat 1 tsp of vegetable oil in a wok over a medium-high heat. When the wok is smoking, add the marinated beef in a single layer to sear it. When a golden crust has formed, flip the beef to sear it for a couple of minutes on the other side. Stir fry for a further minute until cooked through. Remove the beef from the wok and set aside.
Give the wok a quick wipe with kitchen paper, then add a small dash of oil over a medium-high heat. Add the leeks and stir fry until they have softened and started char ever so slightly. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Heat another teaspoon of oil in the wok over a medium-high heat. Add the softened noodles, dark soy, sugar, salt, and 1 tbsp of water. Stir fry for a minute or two to evenly distribute the seasonings throughout. Return the beef and leeks to the noodles and stir fry until piping hot.
Serve the noodles with a sprinkle of freshly chopped chillies for a spicy kick, if you like.
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  • Peter

    Thanks sounds really tasty, as do all your recipes. X

  • Beth

    Hi! Can you tell me if frozen broccoli florets would work?

    • Hi Beth 🙂 Luckily most frozen veges are ‘snap frozen’ these days so they cook up really well when defrosted. We’d recommend just pouring some boiling hot water over them and leave till they getting a bit bendy, then add when you fry the noodles. Hope you enjoy! x

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