“Something Other Than Pasta”

It’s only been a week since I last posted, but, man, has the last seven days been chock full of activity.  One of my many distractions from blogging is the fact that I was elected Prez of next year’s Parent Teacher Student Association (say that three times fast) for Ken’s middle school.  In a true baptism by fire, I ended up in a coordinator role for the eighth grade celebration dance party– with less than three weeks to pull it together.

Don’t ask how this happened, just rejoice that, thanks to a great team of mommy volunteers, including my number one Wing Mom, Amanda, we threw a great celebration for the kids last Thursday evening– 6 ft subs, neon decorations, DJ with lights and lasers, glow sticks, balloons, gaming console for non-dancers and the big hit of the night– a photo booth with souvenir strips customized with the school logo.  The photo booth guy emailed me later to say that he thinks we broke their record for most photo strips taken!  As the party wound down, I even dragged Kurt, Ken and Grace (who was in town to visit) to the party to get feedback for Ken’s class party next year.

Now I’m back to my (much) smaller domestic world; Grace, whose husband fears the carb load in pasta and won’t eat it (have I mentioned he’s Italian), said I need to blog “something other than pasta.”  Having a full head of Napa cabbage wilting away in the refrigerator, I decided to do a stir fry.  Most of the time, I use flank steak, some kind of veg, aromatics that include ginger, garlic, onion, and a sauce made from a combination of whatever I have on hand– soy, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, sriracha, etc.– mixed with a little water and cornstarch.  It’s a quick evening meal and relatively healthy if you don’t eat too much steamed rice!

Tonight I decided on flank steak with the Napa.  I used sliced ginger, several minced garlic cloves and one onion for the aromatics.  The sauce was a combination of Filipino sauce (less salty than Kikkoman), rice wine vinegar, oyster sauce, water and cornstarch.  Super easy.  Start the rice first then pull the stir fry together.  I made the sauce a bit tangier with more than my usual splash of vinegar (I was trying to measure everything), but both guys loved the increased flavor and said I “needed to make it like that ALL the time.”  I attribute this to the German and Filipino predilection for sour meat, so go with less vinegar if you shy away from dishes like Filipino adobo or sauerbraten.

Beef Stirfry with Napa Cabbage

for the sauce:

  • 2 TB Filipino soy sauce (e.g., Silver Swan)
  • 2 TB rice vinegar (any brand)
  • 2 TB oyster sauce (any brand)
  • 1 TB water
  • 1 TB cornstarch

for the stirfry:

  • 1 lb flank steak, cut lengthwise, then cut across the grain into very thin (1/4-inch) strips
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of Napa cabbage (about 1 lb), cut into thin strips
  • 1 inch of peeled ginger, cut into flat pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
My not-so-organized mise en place!

My not-so-organized mise en place!

Cook 1 1/2 cups of rice by your preferred method (being Filipino, I have a rice cooker).  While the rice is cooking, mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, making sure all the cornstarch is dissolved.  Set aside.

Prepare the aromatics by mincing the garlic, slicing the onion and peeled garlic (use a spoon to easily scrape off the ginger skin).  Set aside.  Slice the cabbage and rinse well; use a salad spinner to dry the leaves.  Set aside cabbage in a large bowl.

Prepare the meat by slicing the piece lengthwise (along the grain), then into small 1/4-inch pieces across the grain.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and toss to combine.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 2-3 TB of oil over high heat until oil begins to shimmer.  Add meat to the hot pan and sear for about 2 minutes, turn as needed with a spatula or spoon.  Remove meat and any juices to a bowl.

This is pretty quick-- about 2 minutes.  Don't worry if there are some pink pieces left!

This is pretty quick– about 2 minutes. Don’t worry if there are some pink pieces left!

Add additional oil to the skillet and saute the aromatics (onion, garlic, ginger) until softened.  You may need to turn down the heat if aromatics cook too quickly.

Same pot!  Don't even bother to wipe it out-- just add a little bit of oil

Same pot! Don’t even bother to wipe it out– just add a little bit of oil

This looks about right...

This looks about right…

Add the chopped Napa cabbage and saute until wilted.

Again, a very quick process.  Use tongs to move the cabbage and aromatics around

Again, a very quick process. Use tongs to move the cabbage and aromatics around

Add the meat and any juices back into the pan.

The meat will finish cooking here

The meat will finish cooking here

Add the bowl of sauce and stir to distribute all ingredients.  The sauce should thicken in a minute or two.

If the sauce starts to evaporate too quickly, take the pan off head and stir in a few TB of water

If the sauce starts to evaporate too quickly, take the pan off heat and stir in a few TB of water

Correct seasonings, and if you went low on the vinegar and want more, now is the time to add it.

Check for seasoning now before you plate!

Check for seasoning now before you plate!

Serve immediately with hot steamed rice.

Great homemade weeknight meal!

Great homemade weeknight meal! (Grace made the serving dish many years ago when we tried painting pottery).

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Filed under Family, Food, Main Dishes

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