When the cat is away, the mouse will play… so goes the saying. Speedy is not a big fan of noodles so when he isn’t home for lunch, I give in to my noodle craving. I love noodles. In any shape form or shape. But I am especially enamored of Oriental style noodle dishes like this sweet and spicy noodles with beef and vegetables. Pasta is a close second. Sometimes, that’s even interchangeable.
So, I cooked noodles for lunch today. I made enough for two so I could snack on whatever is left over after lunch. Nothing strongly flavored. On the contrary, this dish is characterized by subtlety. Lots of flavors, all subtle, that it’s hard to decide which is dominant. If you’re a fan of Vietnamese cuisine, you’ve probably noticed that sweet and spicy dipping sauce that goes with fried spring rolls. It’s called nuoc mam pha and it’s made with lime juice, vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, chilies and sugar. This noodle dish was flavored with nuoc mam pha.
Sweet and spicy noodles with beef and vegetables
- 75 grams eggless Asian noodles (or other Asian noodles), boiled but undercooked a bit
- 100 grams sukiyaki-cut beef cut into one-inch wide pieces
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin (or any generic sweet rice wine)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 12 baby asparagus spears cut into two-inch lengths
- 1 small carrot julienned
- 1 stalk celery sliced thinly on the bias
- 1 onion thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 shiitake mushrooms (stalks discarded), caps sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup nuoc mam pha
- bird’s eye chilies chopped, for garnish (optional)
- Place the beef in a bowl. Add the light soy sauce and rice wine. Stir well.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir fry the carrot, celery, mushrooms and asparagus for about a minute. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
- In the remaining oil, add the beef, stirring to separate the slices. Cook just until the meat changes color. Add the garlic and onion. Stir fry for about 30 seconds.
- Add the cooked noodles to the beef. Pour in the nuoc mam pha. Add the stir fried vegetables. Cook, tossing and stirring, until the noodles have absorbed the nuoc mam pha.