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Beef Kebabs and Noodles

2011 May 26
by Mrs. FoodieLawyer

As we have mentioned previously, we often enjoy grilling meat in kebab form, especially in the spring and summer.  It’s relatively easy, looks cool and allows you to cook the meat to uniform done-ness (technical grilling term.)  We found this kebab recipe in The New Grilling Book by Better Homes and Gardens, which is a great cookbook in terms of volume and variety of recipes.  Not all the recipes we’ve tried have been hits, but several have been quite good, and we certainly won’t run out of new ones to try any time soon.  This kebab recipe is one of the better ones we’ve tried.  We especially like how it incorporates the starch, veggies and protein into a single dish.

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The ingredients for this recipe include sake or dry white wine, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sugar, fresh ginger, ground red pepper, beef tenderloin, soba (buckwheat noodles) or spaghetti, pea pods (we used sugar snap peas), carrots, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and green onions.  We enjoyed this particular combination of vegetables with the noodles, but as always, you could use whatever veggies you prefer.

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Sake is one of the ingredients for the dressing.  Incidentally, this is Dan’s favorite kind of cold sake that he always orders when we go out for sushi.  But he has trouble remembering the name, so he asks for it by saying “the dry cold sake that comes in the bottle with the pink flower on it.”  But they change the design on the bottle all the time, so it isn’t always a pink flower, or a flower at all (see the green bird above.)  Luckily, he is clearly not the only person who orders it this way because the restaurant servers always know which sake he is talking about and bring out the correct bottle (whatever happens to be on the label.)

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Add the sake to a small saucepan and combine it with 2 tablespoons of the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce, sugar, ground red pepper and ginger.

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The easiest way to grate the ginger is to break off a piece, peel it (with a vegetable peeler) and run the peeled piece across a microplane grater/zester until you get the necessary amount.

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Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

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Cut the carrots into thin strips.

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Cut the snap peas in half diagonally.

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Slice the green parts of the green onions along the bias in 1 inch (or so) pieces.

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We decided to use the white parts of the green onions as well and chopped them into small pieces.

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Trim the fat from the beef and cut it into 1-2 inch cubes.

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Place the meat in a re-sealable bag.  Add 2 tablespoons of the dressing and 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce to the bag and seal it.  Mix the beef around in the marinade and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or marinate it in the refrigerator for up to 3 hours.  As Dan has explained to me (many many times), bringing meat to room temperature before grilling it is perfectly safe, and in fact, is essential for avoiding an over-done exterior with a raw interior.  (But it still freaks me out to see raw meat sitting on the counter.)

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Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Thread the beef onto skewers.

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Grill the beef over medium-high heat until the meat is slightly pink in the center — about 12-14 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling.

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While the beef is grilling, cook the noodles in boiling water until al dente — about 6 minutes.

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Add the peas and carrots to cook with the noodles for the last 2 minutes or so.

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We added the white parts of the green onions to cook with the noodles and veggies for the final minute.

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Drain the noodle mixture.  (Random Kitchen Tip:  This tool is very handy for straining hot stuff from a pot when you don’t want or need to use a colander.)

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Add the remaining dressing and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the noodle mixture and toss.

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Serve the noodles in low bowls with the beef on top and garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.  After tasting this dish, we decided it might be even better with a little extra spice in the dressing/marinade, so next time we may add chili garlic sauce or red pepper flakes.  But the flavor of the original recipe is also good as is — the sesame (oil and seeds) combine well with the slightly nutty flavor of the soba noodles.  We also liked the combination of textures among the noodles, tender beef and still-crunchy veggies.

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