Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Cinnamon Beef Noodles

I made dinner for a boy the other night. Not just a boy, but the original teenaged stammer-stammer, blush-blush crush-boy. I enticed him to come visit my chic little bachelorette pad with the promise of a hot meal (thats right baby. H.O.T.) and then spent a week wondering what I should serve.

The obvious choice was to make something with cinnamon. Why? Because kids, haven't you heard? "Pumpkin Pie" (and lavender) is the sexiest scent to men, and in my estimation that is a combination of nutmeg and cinnamon, is it not? Plus, I've thought a lot about it, and if it weren't true, no one would say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach, right? (I pretty much figure that is also why I seem to have so many - really good lookin' and single - guy friends. I have so many in fact, I sometimes wonder...)

Anyway, back to my one on one dinner soiree. I decided to seduce his palate with a warm steaming bowl of Cinnamon Beef Noodles. Not that I had any idea what that is/was, but I had seen the title (not the recipe though) in a cookbook, and I have been thinking ever since (and this dates back to, oh, say 1997) that sounded pretty scrumptious. Following some logical Asian flavor combinations, I fiddled around, and the results startled me. It was indeed a taste of heaven and earth, loosely based on the quintessential Vietnamese beef soup, pho.

Warmth from the backround notes of sweet cinnamon and star anise, heat from the chiles, robust flavor from the broth and carmelized flank steak all combined with the slippery (organic! Fair trade!) udon noodles. And what did the boy think? He thought it was divine. If it is chilly where you live, and you need to melt someone's heart (or just warm the cockles of your own) try this, and enjoy.

1 pound flank steak
1 large yellow onion, cut into thick half moons
2 cups beef broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Soy sauce, to taste
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots, sliced thin
1 chile pepper (optional)
12 oz. udon noodles
Parsley or cilantro as garnish
Sliced green onion, for garnish

Slice the steak, against the grain, into bite sized strips.

In a large soup pot, over high heat, add the oil and let heat until it shimmers. Add the beef in a single layer and sear by not touching it for 2 minutes, then turning until browned on the other side.

Add the onion, lower the heat, and cook until lightly browned, about four minutes. Add the soy sauce, stir and let cook another 30 seconds.

Add the beef broth, cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, star anise and chiles. Bring to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes to meld the flavors.

Raise the heat until the broth boils, then add the udon, and cook as long as directed (8 minutes is typical), half way through that cooking time, add the bell peppers and carrots. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise and serve garnished with cilantro and green onion.

Makes enough for two as a main course


Studies have found that using half a teaspoon of cinammon a day significantly reduces blood sugar levels in diabetics

Star Anise is a five pointed pericarp used primarily in Chinese cooking and to a lesser extent Southeast Asian cuisine

Indian and Thai shrimp traders are awaiting a desicion today on whether punitive tariffs of 5 percent to 16 percent on shrimp shipments after American shrimpers said they were hurting from unfair competition will be lifted to help farmers hurt by last year's tsunami. The tariffs were imposed just 10 days after the tsunami, but came after months of investigation. The Dec. 26 tsunami, flooded shrimp farms, destroyed fishing boats and killed thousands of fishermen. An estimated 88,000 fishing boats and more than 14,000 hectares of shrimp farms were destroyed by the tsunami in India alone. Due to the combined impact of American duties and tsunami damages, India's seafood exports are expected to fall by 30 percent to US$1.03 billion (euro0.85 billion) for the year through March. Of those, India's shrimp exports to the United States are projected by the trade body to fall from the usual 25 percent to about 20 percent during the year.

Today in the Los Angeles Times Food Section, there is still no mention of Los Angeles Food Bloggers. Stay tuned...

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I bet that smelled great. I will have to try it. I will add some celery too.
Actually the Indians and Southeast Asians use a lot of star anise too.

And smart move on "the way to a bloke's heart is through his stomach". Looks delish and I will definitely try it. Been on a beef kick recently for some reason.
Star anise looks so beatiful but I have never got round to actually buy some. This recipe sounds tempting though and it is quite chilly here - next stop the spice shop!
Yum...I love that dish. I tried it out of a cookbook by Nina Simonds. It's all about noodles. That makes me think I'll have to go and make some myself - perfect for the cooler weather that is slowly creeping our way. Darn those Santa Ana's!
Yay for the boy! Yay that he was there, yay for him that he was served this luscious meal. Does he deserve you? That's all I want to know!
hmm, i can almost smell the broth through these pages...can only imagine the boy was totally floored...
That meat looks like a heart.
Clivia - You should get some, its really versatile, and so good.

SoCal - That may be where I spotted it! Is my version very similar? I love her cookbooks.

Shauna - I'm so cheeky, I neglected to expand on things, but he actually was my crush way back in school. These days he is just a good friend. I'm lucky to have so many, and so many who are good eaters.

J - Thanks hon! It really filled the house with the best fragrance, I was swooning...

Anon - OMG, it DOES. Sick! Ill see if I have another shot to replace it! LOL
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