First, let me apologize for not yet announcing the winners of my blogiversary giveaway. I’m still trying to work out some issues with my commenting platform. Sit tight, hopefully it won’t be much longer! In the mean time, if you haven’t entered, consider yourself lucky, and take a shot!
You know that commercial where a bunch of people are eating baked pasta dishes in a nice Italian restaurant are suddenly told it’s from Pizza Hut? Well, there was a period of time last summer that I feared I’d be appearing in the Chinese food spin-off. Actually, you might have even read about. To recap, I was invited by a marketing company to dinner at a trendy Asian bistro in Boston. I went along with my friend Jen, Beantown Baker, and we even got to bring our husbands. It must be nice to have a food blogger as a spouse! We were presented four courses from a pre-fix menu, all of which were prepared by the restaurant, except for one. Do you think we were at all surprised when the “big announcement” was made that our entrees were part of a new line of frozen prepared Chinese meals? Not really. By the same token, I wasn’t very prepared to answer in front of a camera when asked how my meal compared with its takeout counterpart in terms of taste and value.
Honestly? I had no clue. It’s been years since we’ve ordered Chinese takeout. It suffices to say that once we went Thai we never went back. Thai food (and Vietnamese and Japanese, which we also like to order sometimes) is so boldly flavored and fresh tasting, and there’s something unique and special about each dish. My memories of Chinese food (and to be fair, I mean typical American Chinese food) are comprised of various meat dishes all fried in the same brown sauce and stir fried noodles and vegetables dishes tasting more like oil and salt. In a nutshell, it all tastes pretty much the same. And let’s not the forget the batter, I recall lots of that too. Let’s face it, when you batter and fry anything, you pretty much lose all taste of what’s inside. Unless we’re talking deep-fried Oreos.
I could do better, for sure. I figured I’d create a new crockpot recipe for Mongolian beef, because heck, most people love crockpots and Mongolian beef. Then again, crockpots have a specific time and place, and to slow-cook something that’s meant to be prepared quickly and simply isn’t one of them. In fact, it can easily ruin the dish, which I suspect is what happened in the first place. So of course I could do better if I actually made the dish the way it was meant to be – with a few Cara’ Cravings tweaks, of course
1 large head of cabbage, thinly sliced into “noodles”, to yield 2 pounds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, trimmed and sliced thinly against the grain
1/4 cup peanut flour (PB2)* or cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1/4 teaspoon pure powdered stevia extract, such as NuNaturals
3 teaspoons canola or olive oil, divided
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 scallions, sliced thinly
Place the sliced cabbage in a large pot with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and steam the cabbage for about 20 minutes, or until tender, adding more water as needed if it dries out. When the cabbage is cooked, uncover and allow any remaining liquid to evaporate, then toss with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, place the beef in a large bowl along with the peanut flour or cornstarch and toss to coat.
Stir together the water, soy sauce, sherry, and stevia.
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large wok over medium-high heat, and stirfry the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper for about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook for two more minutes; pour into a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Working in two batches if needed, add the beef and cook for about one minute per side, until nicely browned. Pour the sauce mixture back into the pan, increase heat to high, and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until thickened to your liking, adding the sliced scallions toward the end.
Divide the cabbage noodles and beef among serving plates, and serve hot.
*Peanut flour is an all-natural nut flour made from de-fatted peanuts. It can be ordered from various sources online, including Bell Plantation, where it’s marketed as a low calorie, low fat substitute for peanut butter under the brand name PB2. In addition to be using as a coating, thickener, or addition to baked goods, it can be mixed with water to form a paste or a smooth sauce, and adds peanut flavor to a variety of dishes. See my other PB2 recipes here.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 19.8 g
Cholesterol: 85.1 mg
Sodium: 1,582.1 mg
Total Carbs: 25.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
Protein: 43.6 g