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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

this dish made me sound like an angry pterodactyl

Which, for the record, sounds something like “RRRRRRRAAAAANNNNGGGGGGGHHHHHHCAAAACAAAACAAAA”

I found a recipe online for beef on rice vermicelli because I was having a serious craving for red meat, plus I need to eat light dishes because of my ongoing stomach troubles. From the outset, it looked delicious and straightforward:

 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
12 this asparagus spears, cut into one inch lengths
140g dried rice vermicelli
350g sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
dash of sugar
vegetable oil, as needed

1. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large saucepan on high heat. Break vermicelli into small bunches, drop in the oil for a few seconds until they are white and crispy
2. Mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and 1 tsp water in a bowl and set aside
3. Stir-fry the beef in oil until well done
4. Stir-fry the garlic and ginger, add the vegetables, stir-fry for 2 mins, then add sauce and beef
5. Place mixture on top of crispy noodles

So I bought all the supplies, brought them home, and started with the noodles. As you can see, the original recipe said to just put the raw vermicelli in a hot pan with ample oil and fry for a few seconds until it turns white and crispy instead of clear. LIES!!!!!! All that happens is that two or three noodles get burned black from the heat and the rest stay translucent and oily. FAIL. I ended up adding water and covering them so that they would be slightly soft AND crispy, if that’s possible, but at this point I just wanted something edible. (I tried a different tactic with the noodles the next night: I put them in a bowl and poured boiling water over them which softened them, then threw them in the pan with the meat and veggies. This worked MUCH better.)

Also? Rice vermicelli is really irritating to take out of the package. You can’t take it out of its plastic bag without pieces breaking and falling on the floor, and forget about breaking it up so you can cook it – all you get is hard, translucent noodle-pubes all over your floor and the bottom of your socks. Bullshit. So? Do everything you need to do for and to vermicelli over the sink, then hose ‘er down.

I took the noodles out, transferred them to a plate and covered them in paper towel to keep them reasonably warm. Then I started on the beef. I took stir-fry beef strips fresh from the butcher and cut them into smaller cubes. I hate the smell of raw meat (but really, who likes it) and I hate handling it even more, but the worst, THE WORST is that period when you are cooking beef when it gets really greasy and smells like an old folks home. As soon as it reached this point, trying to hold onto what little was in my stomach, I drained it until completely dry and it started to smell a hell of a lot better. Once the meat was well done I took it out and transferred it to a bowl next to the noodles. At this point I hadn’t taken any photos of the dish even though I was planning on writing about it because I was pretty sure it was a failure. But, like Rhett Butler, I have a soft spot for causes once they’re really lost, so I kept on cookin’.

So I started on the vegetables: scallions, asparagus, fresh ginger and garlic, and it was finally a satisfying stage in the meal. You can’t tell me that’s not pretty:

Then I made the sauce. The recipe called for soy sauce which I then realized I was out of (and resulted in the second pterodactyl noise), so I thought I would roll the dice and try mixing black bean sauce with oyster sauce and a dash of sugar and seeing what happened. The result is VERY salty but if you have a salt tooth (which I emphatically do, I could suck on a stalactite of rock salt all day and never get thirsty) and/or use it sparingly it’s a great compliment to the meat, veggies and starchy noodles.

I was prepared for it to taste like the dog’s breakfast I made out of the clam pasta, but I have to say, it was delicious. I ate it while barely taking a breath then fell into a rapturous food coma on the couch, basking in the glory of my culinary prowess. Or something. 



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