Saturday, March 29, 2008

Firecracker Beef on Cold Rice Noodle Salad - Warning: Flavors May Explode in Your Mouth!

I love this recipe! It uses one of my favorite cuts of beef; skirt steak, maybe the most flavorful of all the supermarket beef cuts. It features a dizzying array of contrasting tastes and textures; hot and cold, sweet and sour, salty and bland, spicy and fresh, soft and crunchy, wordy and succinct. This video recipe also shows you how easy it is to prep rice noodles, which are great in all kinds of cold and hot dishes.

Skirt steak is extremely juicy, so it can take the "twice-cooked" procedure here. If you decide to substitute another cut, be careful not to overcook. A flank steak would probably work here, but I would try and find skirt steak. Don't let the scowl, and all that facial hair fool you, most butchers are nice, and will be more than happy to find you a skirt steak.

The level of spiciness is, of course, up to you, but what makes this dish so fun to eat is the warm, fiery beef on the cold, refreshing noodles. Don’t cheat yourself out of all those amazing endorphins because you are afraid of a little pain. Enjoy!

Click here for ingredients and transcript


jim said...

i love rice noodles- this looks tasty,i will try. spicy...yes!!!

PrimeBrit said...

I love spicy dishes. This is definitely on for me this week. Do you do Indian curry? I have a couple of recipes that I have down but I am always looking for more. Thanks Chef.

Chef John said...

I tend to like the red thai curries more, but I have used Indian before. Anything spicy works in this dish.

Balu said...

Hey Chef, is that chili garlic sauce called "Sriracha"?

Chef John said...

its actually closer to Sambal Oelek, but that would work

Nikki said...

Hey Chef John,
I scared of hot foods but um that looks really tasty. what could I use to make this for us um chickens?

Chef John said...

they sell mild chili sauces

Zach said...

Hey Chef

You keep saying that you "caramelize" beef in your recipes, but is that a euphemism for "slightly burn"? Don't you need sugar in order to caramelize something?



Chef John said...

the coooking term is called caramelization, but it's really something called the "Maillard reaction," a chemical reaction that happens when food is seared. google it, its pretty interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, chef. I fixed it this evening for my roommate and myself, and it was a hit.

The meat was delicious. But I didn't find it all that hot-and-spicy; a little heat, but nothing major. Would a longer marinade increase the heat of the final product?

The rice noodles were kind of a problem: I fixed a 6.75 oz package and ended up with what looked like 2-3 times as much as you did. I made the salad from half the noodles, but I think the dressing somehow got spread too thin. (my roommate, the cretin, put soy sauce on it!)
I'll definitely try this one again, hopefully with a little more heat and less rice noodles.

Chef John said...

the heat really depends on the brand of chili sauce. You can also add a diced Habanero pepper if you really want heat! btw...did you use the fish sauce?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying, Chef. The chili sauce is Lee Kum Kee., and a habanero would be over the top for me.

Yes, I did use the fish sauce.

Bill W, NH said...

I made this last night and it turned out good but left us somewhat disappointed as both myself and girlfriend are avid about our Thai cuisine, I'm thinking this is a Vietnamese recipe, no? I think the sauce on the noodles could use some heat, maybe a couple of Thai peppers sliced very thinly. I added thinly sliced green onion, a handful of previously steamed green beans, and another handful of bean sprouts (felt the recipe was lacking in vegetables). I'm guessing that the lack of vegetables, the Chinese 5 Spice, the no heat in the noodle sauce, a good deal of meat, makes this Vietnamese - right or wrong Chef?

Chef John said...

Ah yes, expectation...the mother of most recipe disappointment! I'm not sure what cuisine this is, except to say it is my cuisine. It has Viet, Thai, Chinese influences, but really is just something I make for lunch.

I try not to categorize recipes for that leads to expectation of a certain taste. I LOVE when viewers take these recipes and spice them up. I agree with all your additions and a new dish is born. Enjoy!

White On Rice Couple said...

Great video and it looks so delicious! Just add some fresh viet herbs to it and you've got yourself a Vietnamese bun thit nuong dish!
Bravo on mentioning the quick cooking time for the noodles! I can't emphasize this enough when cooking delicate rice noodles!

Ann Marie said...

I had terrible luck with this dish. First, finding skirt steak was impossible and the "butcher" (I put it in quotes because it was a random guy in a white apron I found at the store) couldn't find any so he kept handing me random cuts of meat. I guess New Orleanians know their seafood better. I finally settled with flank steak. It came out very spicey as I added extra chili garlic sauce which was fine by me, but the meat was tough. Probably because I didn't marinate it for the whole hour (I was hungry!). The noodles were wayyy to vinegary for my liking. They were also much thinner than the ones you used and I think I over cooked them. Plus, I came out with more noodles than I knew what to do with so we had loads extra. Don't know if I'll be trying this one again but I really liked the idea of cold noodles so I hope you post some other recipes using them.

Chef John said...

So, let me get this right.

You used the wrong cut. You didn't marinade it long enough. You added extra spice. You used different noodles. And, you over cooked the noodles.

And it didn't turn out? I can't imagine what went wrong! lol

Sorry, I'm just having some fun with you. It's very hard to copy a recipe when you don't have the same items. I hope you keep watching and experimenting!


Zach said...

Hey Chef, thank you for your reply.

You said:
"it's really something called the Maillard reaction"

I read about this, and it turns out that this is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars.

BUT, as I wrote before, mean dosent have much sugar in it.. so how can a chemical reaction form by reducing sugars?

I highly doubt the idea of a Maillard reaction occuring in the searing of meat.

Wikipedia confirms this:
"The browning reactions which occur when meat is seared have often been referred to as Maillard reaction browning. However, lean meat contains very little, if any, reducing sugars. Furthermore, red meat undergoes more extensive browning than does white meat. The browning reactions in lean meat are most likely due to the breakdown of the tetrapyrrole rings of the muscle protein, myoglobin. Thus, the browning of meat is technically not a Maillard browning since it does not involve the reaction with a reducing sugar."

I was just wondering (as a layman asking a chef) whether you agree with what I am saying? If not, how can you say that you are caramelizing meat? and again, are you not just 'lightly burning' it?



Chef John said...

I'm a little confused as to the question. Are you asking about this steak clip or the scallops? I use caramelized often as a generic "browning" term as thats the standard term in kitchens whether scientifically correct or not.

Often all three things are happening... food surface is lightly burning, carbonizing so to's also caramelizing from trace sugars and sugars in the marinades, tomato products, vinegars, paprika (sweet pepper), etc. And Maillard which most of the flavor of cooked meat comes.

So I'm not sure if that helps or not. Thanks

Zach said...

Thank you Chef, I appreciate your time and effort in replying (and generally in running this great site)!

I wouldn't want to sound like I'm obsessed with burning, but I guess that what I am trying to figure out, is what the difference is between cooking, searing and burning (Indeed, and perhaps due to this, people rarely accept my invitations to come and have a cooked dinner at my place!)

You answered the first part of my question, about why you refer to searing as caramelization (due to reducing sugars, generally, in food).

Anyway, and because of your great help, I now understand that there are many proccesses occuring at once, and to different extents. But what I don't get is that if you leave a peice of beef in a pan on super high for 6 hours, it would be considered burnt. So at what point does food actually go from Milliard or Caramelized to Burnt? Isn't burning just a continuous scale?? Then, isn't searing meat actually just 'burning it a bit'?

Although it includes the Maillard reaction, isn't making toast just burning bread?

I dont want to sound like I'm sucking up to the Chef but THANK YOU for making such a WONDERFUL site. It really makes it easy (and fun!) to learn to cook! Thanks for keeping it free!


Chef John said...

Thanks! I think most of the issue is a semantical one. Not sure when browning becomes burning officially, nor does it concern me very much ;)

For me burnt occurs at the precise moment the food becomes unappetizing

Ann Marie said...

I always enjoy a hearty batch of sarcasm now and again. Don't worry, I will indeed keep watching and experimenting...and most likely keep adding extra spices!

Anonymous said...

Oh my little pony!! This looks superb! I'm going to try this wonderful recipe (and your homemade mayo recipe) this weekend :o) Love the idea that you're using video to teach.
Many thanks from a visual learner :o)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately not everyone in my house enjoys spicy food the way I do. So I made a mild version of the chili garlic sauce using red bell pepper and even added some tomato. I used the chili garlic sauce in that as well to give it just a little kick but it was almost unnoticable.

The meat came out very well both ways and I enjoyed making this recipe a lot. Keep up with the good work and amazing recipes =).

Jackie said...

I made your firecracker beef recipe for the first time last night and absolutely loved it. It was very easy and extremely flavorful.

My boyfriend and I love spicy food. I served this with a bottle of Sriracha Hot Chili sauce but found we didn't need it. It already had the perfect amount of kick!

The only modification I made was mixing in 1 tsp of sesame oil to the rice noodles before serving. This small amount seemed to balance out the tartness of the rice vinegar.

Many thanks to you chef!

Anonymous said...

I made the firecracker beef today using thinly sliced sirloin and all I have to say It was very delicious. I paired with Thanksgiving leftovers (green beans sauteed with almonds and garlic and a slightly sweet couscous) and the spicy + sweet + nutty just was so amazing together! Thank you for this great recipe!

Food Junkie said...

Thanks for this great recipe Chef John. I've been waiting to try this one for a while. I gave up trying to remember to buy a skirt steak and went with sirloin which worked just fine. The spicy marinade produces a wonderful flavour and I love the spice.

I didn't have fish sauce, which I am not crazy about anyway, so I used a combination of soy sauce and sesame oil to replace it on the noodles. This gave a good compliment to the spicy beef. Great recipe. I'll be making this one again.

Food Junkie said...

Made this again only with a pork steak I wanted to get used up. I cooked the meat a just a little longer and discovered this recipe works just as well with pork as it does with beef.

pam said...

Hi chef john! I'm planning to make this recipe for a party tomorrow, do you think an addition of mint to the cold noodle base would work fine?

Chef John said...

Yes, sounds great to me!

Deb Ludwig said...

Where can I find this recipe? It’s not showing up....