Easy and fast Asian stir-fried noodles with veggies and beef for autumn. An inspiration from Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines.
This stir-fried dish is inspired from two well-known dishes: the Vietnamese stir-fried Pho noodles and the Korean Japchae.
The Korean Japchae is also a stir-fried dish using special noodles: the ones from sweet potato starch. Japchae is done with beef and colorful veggies. To make Japchae, Koreans stir-fry each of the vegetable separately and in the end mix the boiled noodles with stir-fried beef and mushrooms and veggies. It is basically a stir-fried dish with mixing as a finishing touch.
The Vietnamese stir-fried Pho noodles, on the other hand, is entirely a stir-fried dish. The dish can be made with beef or chicken or even pork but it is most well-known with beef. The marinated beef is the only thing that is stir-fried separately. When it comes to veggies and Pho noodles, unlike Japchae, Vietnamese put them in the pan one after the other. The order of the veggies depends on the cooking time for each, and that means the one that takes the longest time to cook will go into the pan first. The final dish should have smoky noodles with little to no sauce left to avoid the noodles turning mushy and sticky.
Personally I like to have sauce in my stir-fried dish but the noodles must also remain a bit chewy. And I found that perfect fit with the Korean sweet potato starch noodles. The noodles are chewy, they don’t stick to each other and become mush no matter how much water you dump them in. And last but not least, they’re much healthier than the Pho noodles (A bonus too: they look so beautiful with a transparent glow when cooked). So for this dish I will combine the sweet potato starch noodles from the Korean Japchea with Vietnamese orderly stir-fried veggies, and there’s also a Chinese twist somewhere in the marinade ('somewhere' because Vietnamese use lots of Chinese ingredients over the years that the marinade feels to me just like Vietnamese).
The Chinese flair for this dish comes from oyster sauce and hoisin sauce. If you’re a bit familiar with Chinese cuisine, you may know oyster sauce. The sauce is made from, yes, oyster and seasonings. It is mostly used for stir-fried dishes and sometimes as a base for marinade. Hoisin sauce is made from fermented soy and seasonings and has a strong soy smell. Both sauces have a thick brown consistency, are slightly sweet in flavor and can elevate any dish made from beef. Vietnamese cuisine makes use of both sauces. For example, Southern Vietnamese cuisine has hoisin sauce as dipping sauce for the beef from Pho, and oyster sauce is present in lots of Vietnamese stir-fried and grilled dishes.
Ingredients: (for 2 servings)
300gr of beef (choose the filet part), cut into thin slices
200gr of sweet potato starch noodles
150gr of pak choy, chopped thinly
1 average tomato or ¾ of a big one, cut into small cubes
Half of an onion, cut thinly
150gr mung bean sprouts
2 handfuls of coriander of about 20gr, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic and 1 small chunk of ginger root, crushed and minced
First we prepare the marinade for beef. When it comes to marinating beef, remember that it goes well with soy sauce and garlic. You will need an agent to keep the beef soft if you want to stir-fry it, either with oil or butter, or in this case, oyster sauce. So combine the minced garlic and ginger with:
and give them a good mix.
Pour the marinade in a zip lock bag and put in the beef slices. Give the bag a good massage for the marinade to spread evenly. Put the bag in the fridge from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Don’t let the beef marinate too long or the ginger will get fermented in hoisin sauce and have a wet smell. It’s not that the wet smell is offensive but we want our dish, especially the beef, to have that spectacular fresh fragrance, the kind that lifts you up and sets your hunger radar on alert.
The actual cooking part:
When the beef is marinated enough, then comes the cooking part.
- Boil the noodles on high heat for 5 minutes then run cold water on them to stop the cooking process. Put them on a drainer to dry. Use scissors to cut the noodles short, about 8 cm long should be good to go.
- On medium-high heat, put in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the wok. When the oil is heated, stir-fry the marinated beef for 2 minutes.You will notice the beef produces water/sauce, this is what I want for this dish. Set the water/sauce aside along with the beef.
- Back to the used wok, put in 1 tablespoon of oil and throw in the tomato cubes along with onion slices. By now you can add a pinch of salt to help them cook faster.
- After 3 minutes, add the chopped pak choy and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. Stir constantly for 5 minutes. Next add the mung bean sprouts and stir for 2 minutes. If you find the veggies are closed to burning, pour in the sauce gotten from stir-fried beef that we set aside earlier. It should solve that problem. Then come the boiled noodles, the chopped coriander and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce along with a pinch of salt. With the noodles now in the wok, we mix all the ingredients together. This is the Japchae influence. When the noodles and soy sauce mix well together, put in the stir-fried beef and mix again for half a minute. This is when our hybrid dish is done.
You will notice the tomato cubes melt and serve as a sauce base for the dish. If you want to have slices of tomato for decoration purpose, just set some slices aside and add them in at the last 2 minutes.
If you can’t find hoishin sauce or if you don’t like its smell or taste, you can leave it out.
You can use a wok or a pan to stir-fry. Always stir-fry the beef separately from the veggies and noodles as the stir-fried beef will produce water and stop the veggies to be stir-fried properly.
Stir-fried dish must be done on medium-high to high heat to prevent lots of water leaking out from veggies. If you find the veggies are about to be burned, add the sauce from stir-fried beef like I showed you earlier or water. When it comes to the mixing part, you can lower the heat to medium.
As you can see, this dish takes about 45 minutes to prepare (including the 30 minutes of marinating beef) and provides much-needed veggies in autumn. It is also a light dish and so is perfect for dinner when you come home from work and don’t have much time to cook. This Asian stir-fried noodles dish is best to serve immediately when it’s still hot. A bit of a warning though: don’t expect to have any left-over when you make this dish for your guests.
Cover photo: Thao Uyen
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!