I get really excited when I go out to eat. I also get really excited when I’m cooking and really excited about food always. That’s because I’m obsessed with food and 90% of the reason I write for this blog. The other 10% is an inherent desire to force myself to devote time to being creative, AKA not working and not watching Netflix.
But when I have a mediocre meal I get the opposite of excited….I get really sad. And often want to talk about my mediocre meal with my dining companion for hours after…this can be tedious so I’m sorry friends. This is also NOT a restaurant review blog and I don’t really like trashing restaurants as I’m just secretly jealous that I don’t get to spend my days cooking in one. BUT I did have a very mediocre Korean meal at a new restaurant in Greenpoint last night. I had a bowl of Bi Bim Bap (Korean fried rice in a stone pot) with bolgoki that was not very flavorful. The steak was sinewy and the egg was over-cooked. There were some onions and carrots and other fillers that appeared to be only coated in soy sauce. The gochugang sauce on the side was clearly just straight out of the box (and a cheap brand at that). The bright red gochujangs are usually the worst, I prefer the deep maroon sauces…they are usually homemade. But I digress…
The night before I made a beef noodle salad that was easy, light and packed with the elusive umami. I can’t really call it Korean because most of the flavors are Japanese but it was a hell of a lot better than my bowl of crappy bi bim bap.
Warning: you may want to enlist the help of your eating companion with the dishes…
You will also need a fairly well-stocked Asian pantry for this. Most of these sauces can be bought in an Asian market (Japanese, Korean or Chinese) for less than $2.00 a bottle. For guidance, see my complete listing of markets in NYC, found here.
Miso Beef Noodles
You will need:
For the marinade:
1 lb. chopped skirt steak (aka “stir fry”)
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons miso paste
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon hon dashi (Japanese bouillon)
1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek chili paste (Siracha will do, but it’s not as good)
1 Tablespoon hot water
For the rest:
2 servings clear rice noodles (I used round Vietnamese noodles, but flat pad thai noodles work as well)
3 large fresh Shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried wakame
1 Tablespoon hon dashi
4 oz. tofu (sliced into 6 1/4-inch thick pieces)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon ponzu sauce (soy with a squirt of lemon works as well)
1 large radish, thinly sliced (I used a watermelon radish because it was pretty)
2 Tablespoons chopped scallions
1. First make the marinade so that the steak can soak up the umami. Add the hon dashi, miso paste and 1 Tablespoon hot water to a large Tupperware or bowl and whisk with a fork. Then add the other marinade ingredients, along with the steak and leave in the fridge for AT LEAST 1 hour and up to 12 hours. The longer you marinate, the better it will taste.
2. Once your steak is marinated, you are ready to begin. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of water over medium-high heat. When the water is about to boil, add the Shitakes, wakame, 1 Tablespoon hon dashi and radish; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes and then set aside.
3. Bring a second sauce pot of water (4 or 5 cups) to a boil. Cook the rice noodles for 6 minutes. Drain, toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and set aside.
4. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet (or a pan that will get very hot). Fry the tofu slices on one side for 3 minutes, then flip and fry for 3 minutes on the other side. Slice into smaller pieces and set aside. In the same pan, cook the marinated beef in small batches. Add a small handful to the pan and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes, then move the pan around and cook until a nice crust forms. Repeat until you have cooked all the steak.
5. Make the sauce by adding 2 Tablespoons of the mushroom broth to 1 teaspoon ponzu sauce. Assemble the noodles by placing a handful of rice noodles in a bowl. Then spoon some of the radish/mushroom mixture on top then add a few pieces of tofu and some of the steak. Spoon some of the sauce on top and garnish with scallions.