When we were growing up, my Mom made this noodle dish every weekend for lunch like clockwork. It involved wok-frying creamy white rice noodles with assorted seafood, beef and vegetables, a dousing of soy sauce and it is transformed into an easy popular Singaporean lunch. Of course, it would not be complete (for me, that is) without a proper dosing of fiery chili sauce.
It has been years since I lived with my mom but if I pop by any given weekend, my mom has some Char Kway Teow on the go. Since my mom is spending her summer in Singapore and New Zealand this year, I am left to make my own weekend lunches. (Not that she makes me lunch every weekend, but when there is a visit.... let's just say there is food...)
This meal is a very common noodle dish you will find in the local (often al fresco) eating establishments in Singapore called, "hawker stands" but I have also had in also eaten this dish in some of Singapore's finer dining establishments.
This recipe is inspired mostly by my mother's recipe but also by Kylie Kwong (a food goddess amongst us mortals!) Kylie's cookbook Simple Chinese Cooking is my go-to Chinese recipe reference guide. Many of Kylie's recipes use malt vinegar as part of the marinade for beef and I think it is excellent. It adds a nice tang and cuts the saltiness of the soy sauce while still lending a complex flavour to the beef. Also, I am a big proponent of using what you have in the fridge. This recipe often uses Chinese green vegetables, if you don't have them, use spinach. (It may not be exactly traditional, but hey, traditions evolve.)
Making this dish, reminds me of eating meals with my family. I remember the gorgeous smell of the beef browning in the wok (sorry, my dear vegetarian and vegan friends, meat is good!) followed by the sizzling and sputtering of the rice noodles hitting a hot wok. When that happens, you know it's only a matter of minutes until lunch is served. (Of course, you can always have this for dinner as well.)
Fresh rice noodles are found in the refrigerated section of the Chinese grocery. You can use the dried ones that are used for pad thai. They tend to be a little more toothy, but nevertheless still equally delicious.
1 lb beef fillet (or you can use the cheaper cut, flank steak*)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4c malt vinegar
1/4c soy sauce
1/4 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1/2 garlic clove minced
1 lb fresh rice noodles
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
4 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs beaten
1/4c soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 large handfuls baby spinach (very unscientific, I know)
3 stalks green onions, cut into 2 inch logs
1/4 lb bean sprouts, rinsed
1/2 sweet red/orange pepper thinly sliced
To marinate beef:
1. Thinly slice beef and toss with cornstarch. Add malt vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic and chili flakes. Mix well, cover with cling wrap and return to the fridge for at least 30 minutes(or more if you have the time.)
To make the noodles:
1. Fill a large bowl with warm water. Add the fresh rice noodles and gently untangle them. Drain immediately and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat a wok or a large wide fry pan with 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Drain the beef from the marinade. Lightly pat dry. Working in batches, saute the meat until the outside is browned but not thoroughly cooked. (This happens fast so make sure you have a fresh plate before you start.) Remove beef from pan and cook the next batch until you have cooked all the meat.
3. Then do the same for the shrimp (it can go on the same plate as the beef.) Set aside.
4. Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the pan. When the oil shimmers, turn down the heat & add the garlic until fragrant. Add drained & separated rice noodles. I resist the urge to immediately start to stir fry. (I let always allow a litle bit of the noodles to get crisp to add to the texture. But that is definitely not traditional.)
5. Make a well in the middle of the wok/pan. Add the beaten eggs and cook for a minute. Slowly, fold the noodles into the center.
6. Add soy sauce, & oyster sauce and continue to toss with the noodles. Return the shrimp & beef back to the dish along with the thin slices of pepper and bean sprouts.
7. Toss together to incorporate.
8. Serve immediately with additional sprouts and peppers and a drizzle of sesame oil.
*flank steak is one of those meats seem to be quite expensive in the mainstream grocery stores around here. If you venture into a Asian grocery store, you may be able to find flank steak is alot cheaper here.
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