Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pan-Fried Noodles with Beef and Snow Peas

Some of my favorite restaurants in NYC aren't necessarily foodie, Michelin-starred destinations...they're often tiny little mom-and-pop-owned places serving honest, good, satisfying food that doesn't cost a fortune. Which, incidentally, describes most Chinatown restaurants to a tee. Seriously, sometimes there's just nothing better than sitting at a small Formica table and shamelessly digging into heaping servings of crisp salt-baked shrimp, crunchy pan-fried noodles and finishing off the feast clutching a steaming cup of cleansing hot tea.

That said, if I ate pan-fried noodles as many times as I wanted to, I'd probably be about 20 lbs heavier with a clogged artery problem. As good as they taste at Great NY Noodletown (one of my favorite Chinatown restaurants), the healthfulness of the dish is dubious at best. And so, I decided to try making it myself. At least then, I mused, I can control how much oil and salt are going into the thing. And I can rest assured that MSG isn't even a remote possibility. I'd never attempted Chinese cooking before, but the results were delicious and surprisingly simple. Try it and let me know how you do. xo

Pan-Fried Noodles with Beef and Snow Peas
Adapted from Gourmet, November 2009
1 package dried Chinese noodles (I bought China Bowl Select at Whole Foods)
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup water
5 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain

Cook noodles according to package directions, then drain in a colander.

Stir together oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and water until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add noodles to skillet, pressing them with a rubber spatula to form a cake, and cook until underside is golden and crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes. Flip cake over and drizzle 1 tablespoon oil around sides of cake, then cook until underside is golden, another 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer noodle cake to a cutting board and cut into quarters.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a wok or 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Stir-fry snow peas with a pinch of salt until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add 2 tablespoons oil to wok and stir-fry scallions and ginger with 1/4 teaspoon salt 30 seconds. Add half of beef and cook, undisturbed, 45 seconds, then stir-fry until beef is just browned, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to plate with snow peas. Add remaining tablespoon oil and cook remaining beef in same manner.

Stir sauce mixture again, then add to skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in beef and snow peas, then serve spooned on top of noodle cake.