Recently I’ve been craving Shaanxi-style Chinese food. My husband and I ate at Terra Cotta Warriors in the Outer Sunset a few weeks ago, where they served piping hot bowls of spicy hand-pulled noodles and roujiamos, otherwise known as the “Chinese hamburger.”
I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the Shaanxi region in China. It was the city of Xi’an where I first fell in love with the country and moved there shortly after. What started off as a romantic stint turned into a 7-year journey overseas. Xi’an was rough around the edges when I visited, but I always loved the city for its thousands year-old history. My favorite memories include walking around the Muslim Quarter at night and marveling at the lanterns that were hung up during the Spring Festival.
It’s been a challenge finding a good Chinese restaurant since moving back from China to the US. My taste buds for Chinese food have certainly evolved beyond the dishes I grew up with. Luckily there’s a large selection of Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area to satisfy my cravings, and regional Chinese is becoming a larger food trend.
And so I’d like to dedicate my very first noodle post to the region of China that kicked my wanderlust into full gear.
Part I – Spicy Beef*
Lamb is usually the choice of meat for the more authentic version of this dish. However, since I’ve never handled lamb before, I decided to use beef.
- 1 lb flank steak, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used sunflower)
- 2 teaspoons of finely chopped ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon of black vinegar
- 10 Sichuan red chilis, seeds removed (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
- 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of corn starch
- 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
- 4 teaspoons of chili oil
- 1 teaspoon of douban sauce (you can find this in any Asian supermarket)
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- Marinade the sliced beef with the listed ingredients. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce.
- Heat the wok over high heat. Make sure the wok is smoking hot before you add the oil. Wait ~1 minute for the oil to heat up. Then toss the ginger, garlic, Sichuan chilis and Sichuan peppercorns into the oil. Quickly stir-fry for 1 minute (I love listening to the loud cracking sound when you first add the ingredients).
- Add the beef and stir-fry for a minute. Then add the sauce (again, you should hear the sizzle!) and stir-fry until the beef is fully cooked.
- Remove from the heat.
Part II – Noodles
This part of the recipe came straight from China Sichuan Food. I suggest you watch Elaine’s video on making Biang Biang noodles. I found it very simple and easy to follow! Note: I later realized that the noodles do expand in width when you cook them, so don’t be afraid to make them thinner!
Part III – Assembling the dish
- Place the cooked noodles into a bowl.
- Add the beef and garnish with the scallions.
- You can also add vegetables to balance out the dish. I just boiled one bunch of Shanghai bok choy and added the cooked vegetables on top of the noodles.
- If you like more heat, add a teaspoon of chili oil before serving.
*The spicy beef recipe is an adaptation of a cumin beef recipe that I found off the site Appetite for China with a few tweaks to dial up the heat.