Madhur Jaffrey's Noodles with…

Leftover Grilled Flank Steak
Chicken and Prawns

One of my favorite Asian cookbooks is A Taste of the Far East by Madhur Jaffrey, the celebrated Indian actress and cookbook author, published in 1993.

The book is one of those big, heavily — and beautifully — illustrated cookbooks and by now is stained and marked from frequent use.

the book

Today, I was faced with the situation of leftover grilled flank steak — not a bad situation to be sure — one I’ve faced many times. A flank steak runs about two pounds or more. Two people — at least these two people — can eat less than half of that for a substantial dinner. The options — steak salad, steak hash, throw it into some kind of soup — are good, but get tiresome after a while.

I remembered the wonderful Madhur Jaffrey dish, Noodles with Chicken and Prawns. It’s comfort food on the spicy side… something I’ve cooked for guests to hearty acclaim. Why not pinch-hit the steak for the chicken and prawns?

I looked at the ingredients and the method; there’s nothing particularly suited to chicken and prawns: cabbage, noodles, chilis, ginger, soy sauce and stock. Pretty neutral stuff.

noodles, cabbage, steak, chili

The dish comes from Indonesia, where chickens are raised and prawns are fished. I’m guessing steak is not a big part of the Indonesian diet. Indeed, there is but one beef recipe in the Indonesian section: Beef Patties with Coconut where ground beef is mixed with coconut, garlic, roasted cumin and coriander, salt and pepper and processed into a coarse paste, floured and fried into tiny patties and served with a soy/chili/peanut sauce. Hardly steak like.

Ms Jaffrey, in her introduction to this recipe, cites the mingling of Chinese and Indonesian ingredients. “The use of the noodles and soy sauce is quite obviously Chinese. But shallots and sliced green chilis give the dish a decidedly Indonesian cast.” Perhaps a further mingling is in order; the substitution of Western steak for the prawns and shallots. I gave it a try.

This dish, which I call Noodles with Leftover Grilled Flank Steak is quite good, smooth and comforting with a hint of spicy heat, much in the same way as its parent dish. But with the charred, grilled steak, it becomes dark and rich, possessing an entirely different taste and character.

ready to eat

Noodles with Leftover Grilled Flank Steak
based on Noodles with Chicken and Prawns by Madhur Jaffrey


leftover flank steak — usually a pound or so — sliced thin across the grain and then chopped.
about 5 teaspoons vegetable oil
a quarter of a medium size green cabbage, 275g, cored
225g fresh lo mein noodles

1 fresh hot red or green chili cut into very fine rounds
3 medium–sized shallots or one small onion peeled and cut into very fine slivers 30g
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into minute dice
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

2 tablespoons Chinese dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chicken stock
2 scallions cut in very fine rounds all the way up their green sections

Season the steak with salt and some pepper and 1 teaspoon oil. Mix well. Cover and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Drop in noodles, separating them with a fork. Boil rapidly for 3-5 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Drain again and put pack in the pan. Add 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, toss and set aside.
Just before you sit down to eat, heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over medium high heat. When hot, put in the chili, shallots, ginger and garlic. Stir and fry until the shallots turn golden. Add the steak. Stir and fry for a minute or so. Add the cabbage and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked noodles, the soy sauce and the stock. Stir and fry until the noodles are heated through.
Scatter the scallions over the top and serve.

Now, I’m interested in trying the same dish with pork.

If you want to try the original, instead of the steak, use
12 ounces of chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 ounces unpeeled prawns, peeled and cut in half


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