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Minced beef chow mein

This recipe was born out of the need to cook a meal from ingredients in our fridge, was inspired by recipes from the "Simply Cooking at Northcity" cooking course and Ken Hom's book "Foolproof Chinese Cookery", borrowed techniques from Ross Dobson's book "Chinatown", and got the green light from our daughter. Fusion cooking in the true sense of the word!

Serves 3 to 4

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of instant noodles (Maggi's baked instant noodles are healthier than the normal, fried variety)
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) finely chopped fresh ginger, or 3 teaspoons (15 ml) dried ginger
  • 1 onion, finely sliced into narrow strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 carrot, finely sliced into strips that are roughly 4 cm long
  • ¼ cabbage, finely sliced into thin strips
  • 6 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 400 gram minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • Salt and black pepper, to season to taste
  • ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) green Thai curry paste
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • Rice bran oil for frying

Method

  1. Boil water and pour over instant noodles in a bowl. After 5 minutes, pour out warm water, add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and a little oil (to prevent the noodles from sticking), and set aside to cool.
  2. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce and half of the chopped ginger in a ramekin.
  3. Heat a heavy, large pan over medium heat.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons rice bran oil in the pan and pour over the soy sauce and ginger. Set aside to allow the flavours to develop.
  5. Lightly stir fry onion and garlic, until the onion lost the worst of it's bite, but is still firm. Remove from pan and set aside.
  6. Add a little oil (not too much!) to the pan and lightly stir fry carrot to soften it somewhat, but remove it from the pan while still firm. Set aside.
  7. Turn up the heat and stir fry the minced beef. Add curry powder, the remainder of the ginger, and a good pinch of salt. Remove from pan when cooked and set aside.
  8. Add ½ teaspoon green Thai curry paste and boiling water to pan and stir briskly to deglaze the pan (this will dissolve the residue left after frying the minced beef). Pour the liquid into a ramekin, but discard the meat residue.
  9. Turn pan down to medium heat again, add a little oil, and lightly stir fry the cabbage and mushrooms until softer but still firm. Remove and set aside.
  10. Briefly fry noodles until smoky.
  11. Add the onion and garlic, carrots, meat, cabbage and mushrooms, as well as the liquids that you've set aside, and the chicken stock. 
  12. Let the dish heat through, while stirring gently. You want to fry it just long enough to heat it through, retaining all the lovely individual colours and flavours, but not so long that it starts sticking to the pan's bottom or turn into a mushy mass.

Serve immediately, with freshly brewed green tea and steamed baby corn.

Notes: 
If you want to reduce your salt intake, use half the soy sauce quantities given. We use rice bran oil, but of course you can use whatever you're used to. Because you need to oil the pan frequently, it may sound like a very oily dish, but you actually need very little oil.