Monday, February 4, 2013
Szechuan Pepper Beef Noodles
So, one of the more interesting aspects of meeting and marrying Connie later in life is that we both have some pretty well-established habits. He folds pillowcases his way and I re-fold them my way. He puts the knife on the left side of the placemat and I move it to the right side. He likes scrawny, plain Kleenex and I like Puffs with Lotion. I guess he just likes having to fold the stuff before blowing his nose. Me, I like tissues that I don't have to fold before using AND that don't cause my nose to come to resemble a certain reindeer. Now, you might wonder why I'm bringing this up. We've both had colds. Nasty, debilitating colds. The kind where you replace every tissue box in the house at least once if not twice. We've learned to share pretty well. There are four boxes of tissues on the first floor. Half are mine and half are his. Nice compromise, eh? In reality, it's shocking how similar our tastes and habits are for a couple of folks who didn't meet until they were about half a century old...
Needless to say, there's been a dearth of cooking around our house recently. Nobody's had the energy It's taken everything we've had to get our work done at the office and keep the house somewhat neat and tidy. Thank goodness for frozen leftovers or we'd have had our fill of fried egg sandwiches for dinner!
Finally, last week we both felt decent. And, we had something to do almost every evening. I was itching to get in the kitchen and fix a real meal. Friday night was my opportunity. There'd not been an opportnity to make a menu or go to the grocery so I was going to have to find something that would work with what we had. The vegetable drawer had some celery, carrots, half a green pepper, half a red bell pepper and a bag of coleslaw mix. The freezer had pretty much every kind of meat or fish or seafood we'd want. I just needed something that'd thaw in time.
On the way to work, as usual, I had a cooking magazine open. Everyday with Rachael Ray. And, I found my recipe. I could substitute like crazy and still come up with a great meal. I wouldn't dirty every pan in the kitchen - super double bonus - so clean up would be quick and easy and I'd actually have time to read the paper.
What did we think? A solid four out of five. There are SO many variations on this dish. We kept coming up with alternatives all during dinner.
Tingly Szechuan Pepper Beef Noodles
1 lb dried chinese noodles or thin spaghetti (I used two servings of whoe wheat spaghettini)
3T vegetable oil (omit)
1 lb ground beef (I used ground lamb. Beef, pork, shrimp... would all be good)
1 onion, minced
1 small red chile pepper such as fresno, minced (I used a dried tien tien)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 - 1" piece of ginger, minced (don't substitute ground!)
2 t ground szechuan pepper ( I didn't have this and am not particularly fond of really spicy dishes so omitted)
1 t Chinese five spice powder
1/4 c Tamari - dark soy sauce (I used regular soy sauce)
2 c shredded iceberg lettuce (I used a bag of cole slaw mix)
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on an angle (alas, I didn't have any of these...)
Brown and drain the onion, pepper, garlic and the lamb, beef, pork or whatever meat/seafood/protein you're putting into the dish. Add the seasonings and the coleslaw mix. If you're using lettuce, you'll not have to cook this any further. If you're using coleslaw mix, you'll need to cook it for a few minutes to allow the cabbage to soften. While the meat sauce is cooking, cook the pasta. Toss the two together and serve topped with scallions.
adapted from Rachael Ray Everyday