What makes this recipe "clean"? Simply put, it calls for whole, unprocessed and unrefined foods, without additives. It also signals a meal that is naturally balanced, without excessive amounts of saturated fat and calories.
Then again, the aforementioned information might not be how you first want to describe tonight's dinner to your family. Try this: It's beef on a stick, served over quick-cooking noodles that will take on the flavors of your homemade hoisin sauce (part of this recipe), lime, crunchy vegetables, ginger and peanuts. Better! Give yourself a head start by using chopped scallions and shredded carrots from the salad bar.
The sauce is made with fermented black bean paste, which is available at Asian markets and is not the same thing as black bean sauce. You can make a substitute with readily available ingredients; see the NOTE below. This makes a sauce that has the salty-sweetness of store-bought hoisin but much less sugar and sodium.
Make Ahead: The homemade hoisin sauce can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 2 weeks.
Servings: 4 - 6
- For the sauce
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1/2 large jalapeño pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons fermented black bean paste (may substitute; see headnote)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the satay and noodles
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen snow peas
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 2-inch piece ginger root
- 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped scallions (from the salad bar), or 9 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 12 ounces beef tenderloin or strip steak
- 8 ounces thin rice stick noodles
- 3 cups shredded carrots (from the salad bar)
- 1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
For the sauce: Crush the garlic clove and place in a small bowl. Stem, seed and finely mince the jalapeno pepper (reserving 1 teaspoon for the satay and noodles) and add to the bowl, along with the honey, toasted sesame oil, fermented black bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar and black pepper to taste. Whisk together to form a hoisin sauce, then place 2 tablespoons of the sauce in the bowl of a food processor. Cover and refrigerate the rest for another use (up to 2 weeks).
For the satay and noodles: Fill a medium saucepan two-thirds full with water; bring to a boil over high heat. String the snow peas.
Pluck enough cilantro leaves to yield 1 1/2 cups and add to the sauce in the food processor. Peel the ginger, then grate to yield 1 tablespoon and add to the food processor along with the reserved teaspoon of jalapeno pepper, the chopped scallions, sesame oil, water and orange juice. Process for about 30 seconds, then use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and process for 30 seconds or longer to form a smooth dressing. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the dressing to a small bowl.
Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the top broiling element; preheat the broiler. Have several metal skewers at hand (do not use bamboo skewers). Have ready a broiler pan, or line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cut the beef into thin, equally sized slices. Thread all the pieces onto the skewers, then brush the meat on all sides with the tablespoon of dressing in the bowl. Place the filled skewers on the broiler pan or lined baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes, until browned, then turn over the skewers and broil on the second side for 2 minutes or just until cooked through.
While the meat is cooking and once the water has come to a boil, add the rice noodles and cook them for 2 minutes, stirring to separate, until they have softened. Use tongs to transfer them to a colander to drain. Once the water returns to a boil, add the snow peas and shredded carrots to the saucepan; cook for 1 minute, until crisp-tender, then transfer to the colander to drain (on top of the noodles is okay).
While the vegetables are cooking, coarsely chop the peanuts.
Toss the noodles and vegetables together to combine; divide among individual plates or wide, shallow bowls. Top each portion with 2 pieces of skewered beef, 2 tablespoons or more of the remaining dressing (in the food processor) and 2 teaspoons of the chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If you can't find fermented black bean paste, substitute by whisking together a mixture of 2 tablespoons all-natural creamy peanut butter and 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce. If it is too thick, add up to 1 tablespoon water.
Adapted from "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Clean," by Diane A. Welland (Alpha, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.