The @warialdabeef girello challenge: Beef Char Kway Teow. How To.
Our friend, rare breed beef farmer Alan Snaith of Warialda Belted Galloways handed Mr Sticki a Girello Roast at St.Kilda’s Veg Out farmers market and told him to relay to me that he challenged me to cook it - but not as a roast.
Now I love Girello, particularly for corned beef as well as roasting, but I also love to apply lateral thinking. So I was definitely up for the challenge
But I’ll start with a little bit of background on Girello for you first. As a kid I remember it as topside, eye round (UK) or silverside. Girello is the Italian name for the cut, it is very lean and comes from the thigh near the rump.
In my childhood it was known for being cheaper yet full flavoured, a hard working cut of beef. But now in this era of prime cut recipes, less people are aware of its potential. So over the week, I’ll make a few dishes with this one piece to show you how much mileage you can get for your money.
As a tasty and economical cut, it lends itself to either very brief cooking, like stir frying or low and slow cooking in dishes like the Sicilian Falsomagro, a rolled pot roast stuffed with Mortadella. I believe in Italy it is also used for Bresoala - dry cured beef, which can also be purchased from Warialda.
So my first thought was how to use it in Asian cooking. I fancied fried noodles and remembered having enjoyed a Halal beef version of the popular Malaysian hawker dish Char Kway Teow which traditionally uses prawns, pork sausage, chilli and lard. So I retained the pork and subbed prawns with beef. For extra vegetable content and texture I also used daikon cake. Certainly not traditional but a very tasty combination.
After the basic prep of chopping the ingredients, this dish takes only a few minutes. Using beef takes a little longer as it needs to rest in the middle of the process. But that gives you time to blanch some Asian greens as a side dish.
If you have strong gas pressure or a wok burner at your disposal and a stainless steel wok, that’s all you will need on the stove. I have weaker gas so use a non stick wok plus a cast iron skillet for the items that need high heat. If you have an electric stove you may also need to follow my technique.
First take some fresh thick cut white rice noodles known as Hor Fun, the packet may say “for stir frying”. For three adult servings I used half the packet and immersed them in a bowl of boiling water. This allows you to separate the strands. You may need to use your fingers to assist this once the water has cooled a bit.
Then from the narrow end of the girello, take very thin slices, sliding the knife across any sinew and removing it in the process. For this dish I used just a handful of sliced meat.
I also sliced half a medium sized brown onion and two dry cured Chinese pork sausages known as Lup Cheong. Four garlic shoots were cut into short pieces, three slices of daikon cake were cubed and a handful of bean shoots set aside.
I cooked the dish in pork fat as per the traditional, I took a 10cm x3cm piece of Greenvale Farm back fat and diced it and rendered it in the cast iron skillet over medium heat.
When the dice had shrunk, released their fat and were slightly golden I turned up the heat to high before charring the Lup Cheong and then adding the onion to soften.
Next went in the daikon cake cubes and when they had formed a fried crust, I quickly tossed the beef in until browned, then added two tablespoons of Sambal Oelek - a chilli onion relish and stirred it through. Store bought sambal is fine and you could also go for sambal badjak, although homemade is also lovely.
The skillet came off the heat and I deglazed it with a few splashes of the water the noodles were soaking in. Enough to loosen any stray tasty, crunchy bits stuck to the pan. Then left it to rest.
Meanwhile I loosened the noodles and blanched my side dish of greens.
I warmed my wok and added some more fat. I have a reserve of smoked lard for hawker dishes but canola or peanut oil would be fine instead. When it was hot the noodles went in to warm.
Now the seasoning - two tablespoons of light soy and one of dark. Stir it through the noodles until they are colored. Then push the noodles to one side of the pan and crack in an egg, scrambling it before mixing into the noodles. Season with a generous shake of white pepper.
Add in the contents of the skillet and the garlic shoots. When they are warmed through, taste for seasoning.
It may require extra salt or in my case I add light Vietnamese fish sauce and if you prefer it spicier add more chilli - you can use fresh or pickled, or even sauces. Thai Sri La Cha works well. Then stir through the bean shoots and serve. I took my blanched greens and warmed them briefly in the hot wok before placing at one end of my platter with the noodles.
If I was feeding four adults I would have made extra vegetables and rather than make extra noodles, would prepare another simple side dish like roti paratha to dip in a small dish of curry sauce, some spicy achar salad or even make a few satay.