In preparation for the Chinese New Year that’s coming up this week on February 4th, 2011, I have decided to make some Taiwanese Niu Row Mein (Taiwanese Beef & Noodles). This will be our fifth recipe for the International Pressure Cooking theme.
I am Chinese. Born in Taiwan, but raised in the U.S. And with the new Lunar year starting this week, there’s going to be lots of cooking, eating, cleaning and cooking some more. Although Beef & Noodles aren’t really considered a traditional New Years dish, it’s still got noodles in it, and noodles signify longevity in the Chinese culture. Which means, no cutting of the noodles when you eat it, or else it will cut your life short. Which also means, when you see Chinese people eating noodles, there’s always a lot of noisy slurping. See, now it all makes sense! Okay, that’s all just silly superstition anyway. To learn more about the Chinese New Year and the special foods that are prepared and the history, click here.
There are many different variations of Niu Row Mein. Some are more spicy, some are more salty, and some are more about the soup. This particular recipe is from my mom. I told her I wanted to make it last week and she up and went to the Chinese Supermarket and bought me all the ingredients. I could’ve totally gone on my own, but it’s a good thing she went because I think I would be wondering around in the store for hours looking for certain things. Of course, she always makes it in a big pot on the stove and it usually takes 1-2 hours. But in our trusty Peggy the Pressure Cooker, it should only take about 30-45 minutes.
- 2 Serrano Chiles; chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic; chopped
- 1 one-inch cube of ginger; sliced
- 3 Tbsp Rock Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Spicy Bean Paste
- 5 Star anise
- 2 Tomatoes; sliced into wedges
- 1 cup Rice cooking wine
- 2 cup Light sodium soy sauce
- 1 Medium Onion; sliced
- 4 Cups Water
- 3 pounds of beef shank; cubed into 1-2” chunks
(In case you’re wondering why my tomatoes look a little strange. I happened to come across these at Trader Joes, they’re called Kumatos, brown tomatoes. Thought I’d give them a try. :P
There’s also a jar of Spicy Bean Paste before I spooned some out into my little ramekin.)
NOODLES & GARNISHES:
- 1-2 Packages of Oriental Style Noodles; slightly flat, yellow noodles.
- 6-8 Stalks of Small Bok Choy
- 8 stems of Cilantro; chopped (Not pictured)
- 3 stems Green Onions; chopped (Not pictured)
- Sesame Oil (Not pictured)
First, let’s wash the beef. Doesn’t that sound funny? Put all the chopped beef shank into the main cooking pot of the pressure cooker. Fill it up with water, enough to cover all the meat. Press the START button on the pressure cooker. This will start the heating element in the machine. It’s not necessary to shut and lock the lid at this time.
Within about 10-minutes or so, you’ll start to see particles that you want to get rid of. It’s sort of foamy and grimy. It looks pretty gross. Use a spoon and start spooning the gunk out and discard. Turn the pressure cooker Off by pressing CANCEL. Use an oven mitt and pour all the grimy water out. Rinse the beef 1-2 times with fresh water and discard the water again.
Now comes the real cooking part. The beef should be inside the main cooking pot still. Add the soy sauce, the rice wine, water, and spicy bean paste.
Chop up all the other ingredients except leave the Star Anise and Rock Candy whole, then add them all into the pot. Give it a good stir if you like but it’s not necessary.
Shut the lid and turn it counter clock-wise to lock. Make sure the Pressure Valve is set to Airtight. Program the pressure cooker to 30-minutes by pressing the SET PRESSURE COOK TIME button. Now press START. Let the machine do its thing.
At this time, you can start boiling a big pot of filtered water to cook the bok choy. Get the water to a rolling boil. Add the bok choy to the hot water and only cook them for under 5 minutes. Remove and strain. You can add the noodles to the same water and cook for 10-minutes until they are tender. Do not overcook, of they will become mush. Remove and strain the noodles.
When the pressure cooker has completed the 30-minute cooking cycle, it will beep and automatically go to Keep Warm. Release all the pressure by turning the valve to Exhaust. Unlock and open the lid. Everything should smell totally spicy and like my HB said, it smells really Chinese. (Not sure what that’s suppose to mean. Hmmm….)
Stir the beef mixture and do a taste test. If it’s too salty, add more water. Find all the ginger and star anises pieces and discard.
Put noodles into a serving bowl first. Top it with 1-2 bok choy stalks. Then ladle the beef and soy sauce mixture onto the noodles. Garnish with a splash of sesame oil, chopped cilantro and green onions. Happy Chinese New Year! GONG SHI FA TSAI!
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