27 – Beef, Bok Choy, and Udon Stir Fry

That’s it – I’m officially a chef. I took a recipe, adapted it, and didn’t die. In addition to that, it actually tasted pretty great.

Actually, I feel bad about how much I enjoyed this meal. The situation reminds me of growing up eating my mom’s borscht. Being Mennonite, she occasionally made a tomato based version of the Ukranian soup. I absolutely love my mom, and I’m definitely sure that I’m the only son alive telling the truth whenever I say “My mom’s cooking is better than your mom’s”. Well, I don’t actually say that out loud, but the thought definitely runs through my head often.

As much as I love my mom’s cooking, I never liked borscht growing up. That all changed one Sunday afternoon when the soup was served for a fundraiser in the basement of my home church. Surrounded by my church family, I discovered that day that borscht can be beautiful.

Sorry, mom. You know how much I love you, but it took another’s borscht to make me see the light.

Coming full circle, this stir fry is like the borscht in that basement. Despite all my wife’s desires for me to crave stir fries, it took this dish to actually convince me of their merit. Telling my wife of this change of heart (or stomach, you could say), illicited a strong – yet completely justified – reaction from her. Attempting to verify the details from our playful exchange (I only made this dish yesterday, but it’s been a long day), I asked Mateja whether or not she hit me. She can’t fully recall, but figures she must have, since it’s a go-to response from her on most occasions where I purposely rile her up.

Key Lime Cupcakes and Stir Fry 008
Hey, baby – you sure are looking healthy!

So what’s this recipe that I’ve fallen in love with, that I’ve modified enough to call my own? Without further ado, here it is:

Ingredients:

– 1 giant thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

– 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

– 2 tbsp. rice vinegar

– 2 tbsp. brown sugar

– salt and pepper

– 1 lb flank steak

– 4 heads baby bok choy, quartered

– 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (plus extra to taste)

– Approx. 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

– 3 packages of udon noodles (300 g each)

Method:

Combine the first four ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon half this mixture into a Ziploc bag, add the steak, and let marinate for at least half an hour. I waited about 45 minutes (approximately the time it takes to juice 1 1/3 cups worth of key lime juice, coincidentally).

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or skillet on medium heat, then add the steak (and accompanying marinade) and cook until browned on both sides. Removed, let rest, then cut into strips. Note that there will be some pink in the steak at this time, but that will be removed later.

Key Lime Cupcakes and Stir Fry 019
Hello, is it meat you’re looking for?

At the same time, boil the udon noodles in a large pot for 2 minutes, or until noodles have separated/move freely

Using the same pan that was used for the steak, fry the udon noodles.

At this time, boil the bok choy for 3-4 minutes in a large pot.

Once the noodles have had a few minutes to fry and the bok choy has been boiled and drained, start to add elements to the noodles. First, add the steak and the red pepper flakes. Stir a minute or two, then add the bok choy and the rest of the marinade/sauce, along with 1/2 cup of water.

Turn heat up to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down so that mixture can simmer (approx. 10 minutes).

Once sauce has thickened, carefully season to perfection with additional soy sauce and red pepper flakes (I added ~1 tbsp. soy sauce and ~1/4 tsp extra pepper flakes extra).

(Recipe adapted from Sarah Quessenberry’s Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry @ realsimple.com)

Key Lime Cupcakes and Stir Fry 021
My plating was terrible, so this is my final – and most tantalizing – shot I have for this dish. I love seeing all that green!

It felt very good actually playing around with a recipe and adding my own twists, making it my own. That being said, I highly recommend following my recipe exactly, because it is super tasty.

Now, as with the last two weeks, I’m participating in Fiesta Friday over at The Novice Gardener’s blog. I have more than a hunch that this week’s Fiesta will feature my Key Lime Pie posting as well, so please make sure to check out her blog. Anyways, until next time – happy cooking!

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