Oh hello there! Can I interest you in a quick and easy dinner?
I know I can’t be the only one who’s totally digging these types of meals, especially after long days where I leave home in the dark, leave the office in the dark, and just. can’t. even. deal with the idea of having to be productive in any way after about 6pm. Can I get an aaaaaaa-men!?
A friend and I were talking this weekend about how it’s been almost a full year since I re-introduced red meat more regularly into my meals. Previously my brain was very used to labelling myself as a pescetarian, but one of the many key lessons I’ve learned this year is that what’s best for each of us evolves as we get older. (Sounds like such a ‘duh‘ statement right?) You’d think red meat would have been an obvious choice for someone who has struggled so much with anemia since 2013. Still, up until this year, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
There have been a number of changes made to my diet and overall wellness routine in the last 12 months, and I can honestly say I think reintroducing responsibly-raised high-quality meats to supplement an already heavily plant-based diet has made a positive difference.
One of the questions I’m often asked is whether eating meat again took getting used to. As someone who was already eating fish, I don’t think it was as big of an adjustment as what a long-time vegan or vegetarian might experience. Digestion-wise, the impact was minimal. I attribute this to choosing high-quality meats and enjoying smaller quantities, still making plants the biggest focus of my plate. But what I think was more of an adjustment (and perhaps what prevents a lot of people from trying new things in the kitchen) was learning to cook beef properly – as in, without turning it into leather!
My enthusiasm for healthy cooking only really hit in my late teens. By that time, I’d been red meat free for about 5 years. Fast forward to my 20s, and my few attempts at cooking beef resulting in chewing…. and chewing… and chewing….. and thinking it was going to take me an hour to finish my dinner because the meat was so tough. Key lesson: don’t overcook!
Fast forward to now. Over the past couple of months I’ve been working with different cuts of beef from MeatMe.ca, a company that sources quality cuts from local farmers and offers shares of these animals to customers. I’m far from being a pro, but can proudly say I’m getting pretty good at steaks and roasts. No more endurance chewing skills required! ?
Stir fry is still my preferred style because it’s so easy, and it seems every time I stir fry beef, my natural tendency is to go to broccoli as a vegetable pairing. Not long ago I shared this Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, but TODAY, you’re getting a remix of the noodle-y variety. Sesame Ginger Beef and Broccoli Noodle Bowls!
This one’s super juicy, saucy, flavourful and a great gateway meal if you’re exploring reintroducing meat in your diet. It also happens to be a super quick meal to prepare – we’re talking 10 minutes or less of actual cooking – which makes it perfect for weekday work nights.
A few key learnings that might help you too:
- When choosing cuts to stir fry, I’ve found lean and tender ones like sirloin and flank steak work best.
- Like other lean cuts of meat, you can make beef strips more tender by marinating it ahead of time. (You don’t have to do this for the recipe below, but it would be a great idea if you have 2-4 hours to do so.) Marinating helps to break the muscle fibres, making it easier to chew.
- Slicing thinly and against the grain (aka in the opposite direction of the muscle fibres) also helps shorten the muscle fibres, making your chewing job easier. If that sounds complicated, it’s really not – check this out for visuals.
- The strips of beef cook FAST. I like to chop all other ingredients for my stir fry before starting to cook the meat because it only need a couple of minutes.
- To prevent over-cooking, don’t over-crowd your wok. If you’re cooking for lots of people and have lots of beef, consider stir-frying in batches.
Right, shall we?
Quick, easy and full of flavour, these Sesame Ginger Beef and Broccoli Noodle Bowls make a fantastic healthy weeknight dinner (and leftovers for lunch, too!)
For the sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos or low-sodium tamari
- 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
- 2 tbsp minced ginger root
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (see note)
For the rest
- 500g uncooked sirloin steak, sliced into thin strips
- 5 cups chopped bite-sized broccoli florets
- 3 cups diagonally sliced sugar snap peas
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- juice of 1 lime, plus wedges to garnish
- ~1/4 cup loosely packed torn cilantro
- cooked rice noodles, to serve
- Make the sauce: In a jar, shake up all ingredients as indicated above.
- Cook the steak: Place a wok over high heat and let it warm up for about 2 minutes. Add the beef strips with a few tablespoons of the sauce and stir fry constantly until browned on the edges, but not completely cooked through – about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the broccoli and snap peas, along with a few more tablespoons of sauce. Continue stir frying, coating the vegetables as much as possible. Cook until tender-crisp and vibrant green in colour, about 4 minutes on high heat. By this time, the beef should also be fully cooked.
- Distribute the cooked rice noodles between bowls, tossing them in sesame ginger sauce if you like. In a large bowl, mix together the shredded purple cabbage, sesame seeds, lime juice and cilantro. Distribute between the bowls, then portion out the beef stir fry.
- Garnish with additional lime wedges and sesame seeds, then serve.
The cornstarch/arrowroot are optional and will create a thicker sauce, but if you don’t have them on hand, feel free to leave them out.
Now over to you! Any masterful stir frying or beef cooking tips to share?