I love American fast food beef and broccoli lo mein. I know. Lo mein is so bad in so many ways, but that chewy texture combined with the flavorful sauce, it’s just so good. That’s what I was thinking about when I found a pound of forgotten boneless beef short ribs in the fridge last week along with a couple crowns of broccoli. I didn’t have any noodles on hand, so instead, I whipped up some spaetzle, adding to it some Chinese five spice. The spaetzle provided that toothy texture and reminded me of rice, so I served the beef and broccoli on top.
Beef and Broccoli over Five Spice Spaetzle, serves 4 for supper
Beef and Broccoli
1 lb. of boneless short ribs, thinly sliced
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
3 tbsp. canola or peanut oil, divided
2-3 garlic cloves
1 inch of ginger, peeled
Bunch of green onions, chopped and divided
Chili oil and sesame seeds (optional)
2 broccoli crowns, chopped into florets
Five Spice Spaetzle
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. five spice powder
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter
large-hole/spaetzle sieve (do not use fine mesh) or colander
Toss the sliced short ribs with cornstarch and place into a large Ziploc bag. Grate the garlic and ginger into a small bowl. Add the soy sauce, honey, Shaoxing rice wine, a tablespoon of oil and a handful of chopped green onions and whisk to combine. Shaoxing rice wine will help tenderize the meat, but its also good without it, so don’t fret if you don’t have that on hand. Pour the sauce over the beef and massage to distribute the marinade evenly. Allow to marinade at room temperature while you prepare the spaetzle.
Place a large pot of water on the burner and turn the heat to high. In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients for the spaetzle. Beat together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl, add it into your dry ingredients and stir to combine. Once the water has come to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and begin cooking the spaetzle by pushing the batter through the holes of your sieve or colander over the pot of boiling water with a spatula. You may have to do this in batches, but work quickly until all the batter is cooking away. Allow the Spaetzle to simmer for 5 minutes before draining.
Now, the next steps will take a bit of multitasking with two burners. If this is overwhelming, you can complete the browning of the spaetzle before firing up the beef and broccoli.
After you have drained the Spaetzle, place two pans or if you have one, a wok and a pan onto two separate burners. Turn the pan you are using to cook the beef and broccoli to medium high heat and the spaetzle pan to medium heat. In the spaetzle pan, add the butter and the drained spaetzle. Keep an eye on the spaetzle, tossing it so that it browns every few minutes while you devote more of your attention to the beef and broccoli.
Once the beef and broccoli pan is hot, add in the remaining canola oil and the marinated beef. Allow the beef to begin cooking for a few minutes and then add in your broccoli. Keep stirring until the beef and broccoli is cooked through, at which point, add your chili oil and sesame seeds if you are using them. The beef will release its juices adding to the liquid of the marinade to make a sauce.
To serve, spoon the spaetzle into a bowl, top with the beef and broccoli and a bit of sauce and garnish with green onions. Enjoy immediately.