Cooking is a labor of love. It might be love for the individual ingredients you use, the people you’re cooking for, the memories that a specific dish gives you, or…it could be all of the above. It is often all of the above for me…except tater tots, that’s just love for tots.
Think about it. Our moms (or dads/grandparents/etc) cook us the foods we love because they know we love it and they love us. One of my aunts gets so excited for an event (i.e. whether it’s a holiday, grandma’s birthday or a family get-together) that she will wake up at 4 a.m. to cook…and she doesn’t cook one thing, she cooks several. It is in her nature to cook and to serve the food (a lot of it).
I recently got the chance to practice this labor of love for some of my siblings. And I’m going to preface here that this is a WORKING recipe…but I love it so much I had to share it. It’s called Mi Xao Giòn in Vietnamese, which translates to crispy noodles with beef and broccoli (or as my siblings like to say “CRISP-AY NOO-DUHL”). It is one of my absolute favorite things to eat because I like a good crunch, but this dish also has a nice balance. You’ve definitely seen this on a menu and you can put different things on top of your crispy noodles like a seafood/vegetable medley.
Should I have paid more attention when my mom was cooking it three weeks ago? Yes.
I have the noodles down at least, okaaaaay?
Mi Xao Gion (Crispy Noodles with Beef and Chinese Broccoli)
Difficulty: Intermediate because my recipe is…loose
Noodle Frying Time: 45 mins
Total Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Yields: 5 “bird noodle nests,” generously serves 4-5 peeps
- Egg noodles, specifically Canadian Style Wonton Mein and can be found in the frozen/refrigerated aisle where all the noodles are in your local Asian grocery store
- 1.5 lbs of London broil or flank steak
- 2 bunches/bags of Chinese broccoli (Cai Lan), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, diced and minced
- 3 to 4 tbsp all-purpose flour, maybe more**
- 2 to 4 tbsp oyster sauce**
- 1 to 2 tsp hoisin sauce, this has a strong flavor, so start with 1 tbsp and taste**
- 1 to 2 tbsp soy sauce**
**Note: these are rough estimates and slowly added to taste. Keep in mind that the flour is to create the “gravy” and the various sauces are to support the flavor of the “gravy”
To prep & fry noodles:
- The noodles I use are already divided into 5 equal servings, but you still need to unravel them and form them into piles. See below…you do this so that the noodles don’t clump together because that’s gross. Making these piles also help give you an even fry.
- Personally, I use a cast iron (which is shallow), but you can use whatever pan you use for frying. I like using a 10-inch cast iron because it helps me form the shape that fits nicely on a dinner plate.
- Add about ½ inch of neutral/canola oil to your pan and heat to ~350 degrees.
- PRO TIP: If you have wooden chopsticks…stick the chopstick into the pan. If there are lots of bubbles coming off it, it’s ready. A smoking pan is a bad sign, and if this happens to you…take the pan off the heat to let it cool.
- When the oil is ready, take your noodle pile and try to spread an even, flat-ish layer in the pan. If you don’t get this, that’s ok! After you drop it in, immediately take your chopsticks (or tongs) to spread it out. You do not want clumping because you will get uncooked noodles.
- I kept my eye on it but if I had to say a time…about 2-3 minutes until it’s golden (more yellow than brown) before you flip it over for another 1-2 minutes. I use chopsticks to do this, but if you are not good with chopsticks…I think tongs could work!
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you’re done. You may need to add more oil into the pan. You may also need to wait a little bit in between frying so that the temp can get back to where it needs to be. Put a paper towel between each “nest” of noodles, so it can soak up the oil.
To prep meat & veg:
- Peel, smash and dice your garlic. This will be incorporated with your meat in its “tenderizing” process.
- Slice your meat against the grain, PRETTY THIN (not pho tai thin, but close), and about 2ish inches long. Not bite-sized, but small/short enough so that you don’t need a knife.
- Grab a medium sized bowl and add 2 tbsp of vegetable oil to tenderize the meat. I DON’T KNOW WHY, my mom does it. Add the garlic and mix with your hands.
- Let it tenderize while you prep the vegetable.
- Wash and cut the Chinese broccoli.
- There are two parts to Chinese broccoli: the stem and the leaves.
- If the stem looks too thick, cut it in half lengthwise, this will make it easier to eat and cook.
- You can cut the leaves if it looks too big, but keep in mind that they wilt and shrink.
- Set your Chinese broccoli aside.
- Fill a medium-sized stock pot with water (fill up about 2/3 of the way) && salt your water!
- Get a dutch oven or a heavy-bottom pan — this is where you will be browning your meat and preparing your “gravy”/sauce.
- Add enough canola/vegetable oil to your pan to cover the surface, and when it’s hot (right before it starts to smoke) add your meat.
- You want to brown it, but not cook it all the way through because it will finish cooking later when it’s incorporated all together. This part should take a few minutes.
- In the interim, if your water is boiled, throw in your Chinese broccoli. I don’t know how long it takes (I told you this is a working recipe), I would check it after a few minutes. Again, you don’t want it FULLY cooked because it’s going to get cooked in the sauce and meat. Let’s go with check in at 3 minutes (I Googled it).
- Take out your browned meat and set aside in a bowl. Turn your heat to low-medium and now add flour. Use a whisk and stir constantly so that it doesn’t burn.
- If you have ever made a roux, the process is similar. The goal is to cook the flour with the meat drippings (?) and not let it stick to the pan.
- Slowly add water to the pan to loosen the sauce/gravy.
- Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce and oyster sauce, still stirring. Taste. Add more if you need to.
- You are looking for a gravy-like consistency — not too thick, not too watery. You may need to add more flour, you may need to add more water. Keep stirring.
- This may take 10 minutes to figure out the right taste, but once you do…it’s time to dump in your Chinese broccoli! Let it warm up for 1-2 minutes…then dump in your meat!
- At this point, you are warming your sauce and goodies, and checking to see if you need to add more salt/soy sauce/water/etc.
- To serve: each nest goes on a plate. Personally, I let each person to ladle their own because some like it saucy and some don’t (like me). See above image for reference.
The first time I did it…I didn’t make enough sauce. The second time I did it…same thing, so I guess the lesson here is: make more sauce than you think you need to!
If you’ve stuck around to this point, thank you for being patient. I am amazed by the response from people about my blog, I cannot thank you enough for pushing me to publish this dang thing! I don’t think it’s a difficult recipe, but it might take some trial-and-error. Godspeed and good luck.