Spicy Beef Wrapped in a Leaf
Unless you live under a rock that doesn't have internet connection or in range of someone elses wifi, you already know, the Internet has made it impossible not to find the answer to all your life long questions. As a kid, the library was the place to go for research. This place isn't nearly as efficient as the internet in getting hold of what you wanted. At least my kids like to read and enjoy trips to the library, good exposure. As an adult, the library gives me a reason to get my kids off of the internet.
You want a recipe for Thai food or learn to bake Challah bread, how about fixing your own garbage disposal, diagnose your own illness or watch a women play with a baby alive doll on YouTube (UGH, it's a thing!). The Internet is chock full of instant gratification in the form of websites, recipes, videos and blogs (like this one).
The Google Machine is a great resource for recipe inspiration. I found a version of this recipe over 15 years ago from Weight Watchers. It's the perfect weeknight dinner, quick and simple. If you prepare your ingredients ahead of time, this meal can be done in the time it takes to make thin spaghetti. (6 minutes)
I tszuj'ed up the recipe by adding some veggies, a handful of basil and a thickening agent for the sauce. I also like to use high protein ramen noodles as opposed to a traditional thin pasta.
I love this dish. It's sweet, it's spicy and it's messy! Keep a fork and plenty of napkins on hand, you will need it.
SPICY BEEF WRAPPED IN A LEAF:
1 1/2-2 pounds of flank steak, top round or skirt steak (your preference)
2 red pepper, sliced thin
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
8 ounce container of cremini mushrooms (optional)
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of honey
1 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
3-4 scallions, sliced thin
Handful of Thai basil or Italian basil
4-6 Ramen Noodle cakes*
1 bunch of green leaf lettuce
Canola or Vegetable oil
Stir 1/4 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
This recipe is a good one to practice "mis en place." This is a French term that means having all your ingredients measured and cut before you start cooking. Trust me, once you get cooking, you will want everything at your fingertips.
*Thin or angel hair pasta is a good alternative to ramen noodles. I use Lotus Foods Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen. This Ramen is gluten free and vegan. I destroyed the vegan aspect of this meal by adding cow meat. However, this dish is completely gluten free!
Mix together the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, honey and hot pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.
Thinly slice the beef against the grain and place in a bowl with about 1/4 cup of the balsamic vinegar medley. Marinate the beef for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
On a new cutting board, slice peppers, onions and set aside. You may have noticed in the list of ingredients I wrote "cremini mushrooms." This is a lovely addition, if you are a mushroom lover like my hubby. You can clean the mushrooms with a dry paper towel, remove the stems and slice. The mushrooms can party with the peppers and onions.
Cut the ends off the bunch of lettuce and rinse in cool water. Let dry on a kitchen towel. You want lettuce leaves large enough to fill with a 1/4 cup of filling. Most popular for wrapping are; iceberg, butter, Boston and green leaf lettuce.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok, heat a tablespoon of canola oil.
Working in batches, add a large handful of beef to the pan. Brown the meat for a few minutes and transfer to a clean bowl.
Once all the beef has been seared, add the veggies to the hot pan.
In 3-5 minutes when the veggies start to soften, add the beef back to the pan.
Pour in the remaining sauce, the basil, the cornstarch and water mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil and you will see it start to thicken. Toss the meat and veggies and turn off the heat. Sprinkle with sliced scallions.
Cook the Ramen according to package instructions. This particular brand takes only 4 minutes to cook. Drain the noodles and toss with sesame oil, set aside.
PREPARATION TIP: I like to have the water boiling before I start browning the beef. This ensures the beef and the noodles are done cooking at roughly the same time.
To eat, lay a lettuce leaf flat on a plate, top with a touch of pasta and beef mixture. Wrap up and enjoy the mess. I hope you have napkins and a fork on standby!