Chinese-style Stewed Beef (for noodle dishes)

The last time my fiance and I visited Hawaii, we went to Chinatown in Honolulu to enjoy a delicious bowl of beef noodle soup. It was perfect; well-seasoned broth and fresh chewy noodles topped with heavenly slices of beef in one, umami-packed $5 bowl. This was my third favorite meal the whole trip, which was a difficult feat to manage considering the amount of amazing food we hunted down. For those of you who are wondering, Sushi Gaku and Okata Bento came in first and second.

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Jjajangmyeon (Noodles in Black Bean Sauce)

My desire to learn to cook Jjajangmyeon actually came from a K-drama I watched awhile ago. One of the characters owned a Chinese restaurant in Seoul that was famous for fast and delicious jjajangmyeon, and it looked so tasty. Prior to this experiment, I had never had this dish before; and when my fiance and I eat Korean food, it’s generally BBQ. I didn’t trust finding a restaurant that made it well, so I resorted to the internet, and my new favorite Korean blog, Maangchi.

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Garlic Eggplant

Unlike many of my dishes, this one really doesn’t have much of a story. One day, I was craving Chinese food, but I had recently moved and didn’t know the local restaurants. So what is a poor college student to do? Dig through the fridge and find a recipe that suited both the contents of the kitchen and the craving. The original recipe can be found here.

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Comfort Food – Chinese Style

So it’s a little early for a second post, but a friend of mine has a very similar blog called Jake the Foodie. Please don’t skewer me for the shameless plug because I’d like to highlight his article on the Chinese comfort food, scrambled eggs and tomato. This is a dish I was introduced to while working in a Chinese restaurant called “Hunan by the Falls” (this place is amazing, by the way, if you happen to live in Cleveland, OH) as a young woman. We ate it for dinner on occasion, and it was by far the most comforting food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. This dish is simple, deceptively simple, as Jake describes in his article,

Confused, my mother asked me why, of all things, I wanted to learn to make that.  She gave me many reasons for why she should teach me something else: the dish was simplistic, too easy to make, not that complex in flavor profile, and so on.  Not to put words in her mouth, but she may have been thinking to teach me more difficult things that would automatically cover the simpler dishes such as this.  I had no response.  I just wanted to know how to make it–and how to make it well.

Jake, if you read this, please tell your mother that although simple, I’m envious that she can create this dish so flawlessly, as I cannot and never have been able to replicate the correct texture and subtle flavors of this meal. I have searched high and low for a recipe that does this meal justice and have failed, utterly and repeatedly.

I’ve heard that the key is a very, very hot wok, or that the ingredients must be added in the correct order. I have tried a number of different techniques and still, my egg isn’t quite fluffy or runny enough, my tomato isn’t juicy enough, the dish just runs… flat. There is something about this meal that can only be taught, not learned second-hand. The wisdom of a technique and family recipe passed down from generation to generation.

All the more reason for us to share what we know.