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Cinnamon Beef Noodles Ribbons of fat noodles soak up a spicy and aromatic broth while tender chunks of beef and green spinach leaves float by. How’s that for comfort food on a cold night? The use of cinnamon in a beef and noodle recipe may leave some people wondering. Wonder no more. For without a doubt, the cinnamon, together with the ginger, aniseed, and hot chile paste, undeniably adds a lovely complexity to the flavors in this simple and appealing dish.

Cinnamon Beef Noodles
Nina Simonds Asian Noodles Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon safflower or corn oil

Chile-Cinnamon Seasonings:
6 scallions, trimmed, cut into 1½-inch sections, and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife

6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed lightly with flat side of a cleaver, and thinly sliced

4 slices fresh ginger (about the size of a quarter), smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife

1½ teaspoons hot chile paste

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon aniseed

Remaining Ingredients:
8½ cups water

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 pounds chuck or beef stew meat, trimmed of fat and gristle, and cut into 1½-inch cubes

10-ounces spinach, trimmed, rinsed, and drained

1/2 pound flat Chinese wheat-flour noodles, udon, or other flat noodles, such as fettuccine, cooked until just tender, rinsed under warm water, and drained

3 tablespoons minced scallions

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until hot, about 30 seconds. Add the chile-cinnamon seasonings and stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

2. Add the water and the soy sauce and bring to a boil.

3. Add the beef and bring back to a boil.

4. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours, or until the beef is very tender. Skim the surface to remove any impurities or fat.

5. Remove the ginger slices and cinnamon sticks and discard.

6. Add the spinach and bring to a boil.

7. Divide the noodles among six soup bowls. Ladle the meat, spinach, and broth over the noodles and sprinkle with scallions. Serve.

6 Servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used half low-sodium soy and half regular soy, because I was concerned about the broth being too salty. It was just right. No additional salt was needed.

2. Because I had 3 pounds of meat, I added an additional stick of cinnamon to the pot.

3. Adding chunks of red pepper will contrast the spinach nicely and give the dish a little bit more color.

4. In her recipe Ms. Simonds states, “The flavor gets better and better every time you reheat it.” Don’t you love food that gets better with time!

ENJOY!

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The directions state, “Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving.” Yeah, right – like that’s going to happen! You will be hard-pressed to follow those directions after stirring the thick spicy sauce into the noodles. And after sprinkling fresh red peppers, carrots, green onions, cilantro leaves, and fragrant, toasted, sesame seeds over the saucy noodles, you’ll forget you even read the directions! This is a wonderful party dish because it can be made ahead and because it can be made to serve a few people or a crowd. For a fun presentation, serve the noodles in small Asian take-out cartons with a pair of disposable chopsticks tucked into each carton!

Bun Bun Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Recipe by Margaret S. Fox, former owner/chef of Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino

Ingredients:
10-oz. dry pasta – spaghetti or angel hair
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce
1 tsp. chile pepper flakes
3 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
3 tbsp. corn oil

Garnishes: slivered carrots, green onions, red peppers, toasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until done, then drain and rinse with cold water until the noodles are cold. Let noodles drain for about 10 minutes.

2. Whisk together the rest of the ingredients until thoroughly blended. (You could heat the mixture very slightly to facilitate whisking, or set the bowl over the steam rising from the cooking pasta for a few minutes.)

3. Toss the noodles with the sauce. Let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours before serving, or refrigerate and serve within 2 days. Always toss noodles before serving to distribute sauce evenly.

4. To serve, place a mound of noodles on plate and garnish with your choice of any or all of the pretty crunchy additions listed above.

Serves 4-6

Linnell’s Notes:
1. As the noodles and sauce sit, the flavors of the sauce meld together. Wait to adjust the seasonings until the noodles have sat in the sauce for quite awhile. I was tempted to add more pepper flakes, but was so glad I didn’t!

2. In the recipe Margaret S. Fox suggests using the least adulterated kind of peanut butter available.

3. I found it was not necessary to heat the sauce mixture in order to stir it.

4. If serving this as a main dish, protein in the form of shredded chicken or firm tofu could be added.

ENJOY!

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