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barely conscious

Recipe: chinese stir-fried beef noodles

Can’t think. I’m tired and there were so many pictures and observations from today that I wouldn’t know where to begin. So I won’t just yet.

But there is a recipe…. because it is my dad’s birthday today. I think most people associate birthdays with cake, but I associate birthdays with noodles per the Chinese tradition.

My dad is the CEO of the house and my mom is the CFO. Dad likes management speak, because he was a manager as well as an engineer. When I was in college, they sent me a check for my birthday one year. My father told me, “I have authorized Mommy to release some funds for your birthday present.” What a hoot.

goofing off with dad at kris’ wedding

at my college graduation

When I was growing up, Dad insisted that the family eat dinner together at the table, no TV. There were many evenings when Mom, Kris, and I would wind up buckled over laughing at my dad. He would smile and inform us, “You know, I manage a division of a couple hundred people and they all do what I say. But you three have no respect for me!” The last part would be drowned out by the deafening roar of our laughter. He was usually a good sport about it. Because he was outnumbered 3 women to 1 man in the house, Dad was always the butt of our jokes.

dry chinese noodles

an assortment of vegetables

We eat long noodles on birthdays for long life, but we always told Dad that he would live a loooooong time because he’s mean. It’s a joke. In my family, we laugh a lot and we yell a lot (even when we’re happy). We love each other very much and we also drive one another insane. If you can’t laugh at yourself, best not to venture into our family’s brand of Crazy.

slicing flank steak

green onions and garlic

Despite the prediction that Dad’s longevity is proportional to his disposition, I made some noodles this evening to celebrate his birthday. I want him to live many more healthy and happy years so he can continue to dispense priceless advice. For instance, when I was boarding the plane to go to college he told me, “Don’t touch boys.”

adding sesame oil to the beef

the pan fried noodles

Dad and I live our lives very differently. We have different priorities, politics, interests… but he stood behind me when I decided to quit my job at Clusterfucks R Us over the highly unethical behavior there, he never questioned me about why it took so long to defend my PhD, and he has always called me his little girl – even today.

sautéed vegetables

mixed with the beef

When my parents visited last month, I was recovering from my appendectomy. After a couple of days watching me barely able to amble about the house, my dad told me that he felt bad about my past year. He said he knows that I, like him, am very (hyper)active. He told me that he couldn’t imagine how frustrating it must have been for me to be sick so often and for so long. Dad isn’t the most empathetic guy in the world and so his words nearly brought me to tears. We are so different and yet, I am so obviously his daughter.

He told me this evening that he had a very nice birthday and that he can’t wait for me to visit in the spring so we can go fishing and sailing together. Yes, we’ll go sailing and fishing and we’ll cook together. Happy birthday, Baba.

birthday noodles for dad

Stir-fried Beef Noodles
[print recipe]

8 oz. dried Chinese egg noodles
vegetable oil (a few tbsps to 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup snow peas, trimmed
1 head broccoli, florets of
1/2 cup straw mushrooms or shitakes
1/2 cup baby corn
1/2 cup bamboo shoot strips
salt to taste

1/2 lb. flank steak
2 stalks green onions, trimmed and sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 tbsps soy sauce (or more if you want more sauce)
2-3 tbsps sesame oil
1-2 tbsps corn starch

Boil the Chinese noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok. If you want slightly fried noodles, then just use a few tablespoons of oil. If you want crispy fried noodles, use up to 1/2 cup. Add the noodles to the hot oil and let fry until golden or just crisp. Flip the noodles over to fry the other side to desired doneness. Remove noodles from the pan and set on plate. Slice the flank steak against the grain at an angle. Mix the flank steak slices with soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Set aside. In the frying pan, heat remaining oil (you want about 1-2 tablespoons) and sauté the snow peas and broccoli until they turn a rich green color. Add the mushrooms, corn, and bamboo shoots and continue to sauté, seasoning with a little salt to taste. Remove the vegetables to bowl and set aside. In the same pan, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil and add the garlic and green onions. Sauté until fragrant and add the beef. Stir-fry until the meat is pink and add the vegetables. When the meat is just done, pour the mixture over the noodles and serve hot.

40 nibbles at “barely conscious”

  1. sharon says:

    Happy birthday to your dad! I love your stories as your family sounds a lot like mine. So alike, it’s kinda crazy :) Though, my mom was so superstitious she wouldn’t even let us cut those long-life birthday noodles!

  2. peabody says:

    Happy Birthday to your dad! Looks like a great meal.

  3. jamie says:

    Sweet post, Jen.

    You’re so lucky to have your dad around. I lost mine a few years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Your post made me happy, not sad, thinking about my pops.

    Great writing, girl!

    Jamie in Vegas

  4. Rosa says:

    Happy Birthday to your Dad! A wonderful and tasty meal!



  5. barbara says:

    A lovely post Jen. Take care. Hugs.

  6. Kitt says:

    Oh, how sweet. You make me miss my dad, who had some similar qualities. Happy birthday, Jen’s dad. Wan sui.

  7. Ronine says:

    That noodle dish looks so great. I really like the chinese tradition of eating noodles on your b’day – I guess it sort of corresponds to the Western (?) tradition of toasting to the health of the b’day boy/girl.
    Also lovely photos of you and your dad; I think it’s wonderful to hear that you respect each other although you have very different priorities in life.
    And his ‘management talk’ following your b’day check: Hilarious!

  8. Maja says:

    :) Happy birthday to your father! Yesterday, October 14th, was also my father’s birthday. :) I baked him a brownie chocolate cake, filled with whipped cream, sour cherries, your chocolate-coffee buttercream, covered with homemade apricot marmelade, on top of which i poured chocolate glaze, then decorated with more whipped cream so that the apricot-chocolate glaze would be a surprise after biting in, and sprinkled with hazelnut crispies and chocolate shavings. I didn’t have time for a special shape, so i went crazy with the flavours. I hope my father’s sense of humour fully returns soon, he, too, had a rough year, mental illness, he’s getting better, though, day by day. :) I really enjoy your family stories, my family doesn’t have the ability to laugh at themselves, so i find myself really fortunate that my dear and i are all about teasing eachother and laughing at ourselves. :)
    I wish i could duplicate your recipe, there are so many ingredients not available where i live … i see a culinary trip in the future! :) Enjoy your day!

  9. Steph says:

    “Don’t touch boys.” That is ridiculously hilarious and cute. I hope your dad had a wonderful birthday.

  10. joanne at frutto della passione says:

    Happy Birthday to your Dad, and out of curiousity, did you follow his advice ? ;)

  11. Mrs Ergül says:

    It is so sweet of you! You and your dad must be really close. Happy belated birthday to him! I think the custom of cooking the birthday noodles is still alive all over the world! My mum always cook this noodles for my father on his birthday. But it is a different kind! It is so different! It is called ‘Mee Sua’, very common in Tawan’s night markets. I have not tried the authentic TW version but I love my mum’s. It is so yummy!

    And your family’s version of the birthday noodles look great too! I have been looking for straw mushrooms but I have never came across it… I like the noodles (pan-) fried! xxoo

  12. Mollie says:

    Yum! And happy birthday to dad.

  13. Kathy says:

    Hi Jen: Love your website.
    You said the magical words “priceless advice”. Hold onto it. Happy B-Day to your Dad.

  14. Fiona says:

    Your dad sounds hilarious.

    Of course, from my perspective, that was good advice for college.

    I have a friend who is the only girl of 6 or 7 grandchildren. Her grandfather sends $100 to each boy for birthdays, and $101 to her. I find that difference so charming – like your dad’s “authorization.” It’s this kind of story that makes family so much fun.

  15. Lan says:

    “Don’t Touch Boys!” what sage advice. my father said the same thing to me when i went off to college.

    happy birthday to your father!

  16. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Happy Birthday to you dad, Jen!

    My dad would have given the same piece of advice about the boys. He never did because I was such a wallflower and only began dealing with the boys many years later. :)

  17. Margie says:

    ‘Happy Birthday, Dad!’…………………………..
    It is obvious that this gentleman influenced your life, greatly. I wish him a wonderful day, a prosperous year and all that is good for the continuance of his time earthly hours. It is obvious that he has had a magnificent impact upon your life, Jens.


    P.S. If I promise not to tune in to the t.v., do you think he will let me sit at the table?
    WHAT! The food gone?! UGH!

  18. Manggy says:

    Happy birthday to your Baba! You’re such a sweet “little girl”, Jen, I’m sure he would very much appreciate this tribute. And he would very much approve of this dish, too! No biting the noodles!

  19. Connie K says:

    You know, my dad would make us eat at the dinner table too! 6pm every night together. A lot of my friends’ would eat dinner quickly or whenever they had a chance, but my brother and I had to sit down and have family time almost every day. It was annoying back then, but now I really appreciate it :)

    Those noodles look so delicious!! Happy birthday to your dad!!

  20. Nate says:

    It is important to eat together, just as important as listening to your baba.
    Not too many people commenting on the recipe. I guess that means that you have found a way to distract people from just looking at pictures. Well written post!

  21. Irene says:

    Wonderful stories about your dad – happy birthday and best wishes to him! In Russian tradition, one says “I congratulate you” in addition to the close family of the birthday-person because it’s really their day too, so please accept my warmest congratulations! My dad also manages a few hundred people and is also outnumbered 3-1 at home (and is also a good sport about it, lol). :D

  22. Jodi says:

    This recipe looks awesome!! Thanks for posting. I love your pictures here and throughout your blog!

  23. Helena says:

    I am not sure if I am allowed to mush over your blog but that father-daughter moment is at once very sweet, very sad, and very happy for you. He sounds like the kind of dad every girl should be blessed with. In Sweden, we’d wish your dad a happy birthday every birthday until he’s a hundred and more!

  24. Holly says:

    OMG! My dear friend had your same haircut when we were younger! Please tell, what year was that – Kris’ wedding? :o)

    Happy Birthday to your dad! And many, many more. I enjoyed your tales of growing up and all the laughter you shared (even if most of it was at his expense!).

    I apologize again for using your comment section to try and contact someone, but I had no luck emailing Lisa through the email address she commented for me to use. Lisa, if you read this, please email me at: fox 2 jeff at comcast dot net Thanks!

  25. Lori says:

    And did you touch the boys? Sorry I just had to ask. I can so see my husband saying that to my daughters.

    Happy Birthday to your Father. What a nice tribute to him Jen.

  26. Melissa says:

    What a sweet post Jen. I was very close to my dad and wish like mad he were still around sometimes. It sounds like you have your values straight when it comes to family. Many happy returns for your dad, and for all of you.

    Also, I am officially pretending to be Chinese on my next birthday so I can have something like this. I don’t even like cake. I’m making noodles next May dammit!

  27. Ari (Baking and Books) says:

    Your dad sounds like quite a character – Happy birthday to your dad!

  28. Tartelette says:

    Ah…fathers…a confusing breed arent’ they?!!
    I love your dad’s pre-college advice!!
    Happy birthday to your dad!!

  29. Olga says:

    Love how vibrant and fresh this looks!

  30. jenyu says:

    Sharon – my family members can be superstitious too. Makes for good stories :)

    Peabody – thank you, hon!

    Jamie – I’m so glad you have good memories of your dad. That’s really wonderful. xxoo

    Rosa – thanks!!

    Barbara – thank you, my dear friend.

    Kitt – thanks. I’m sorry you’re dad isn’t around, but I hope you have good memories.

    Ronine – he is one funny guy, that’s for sure. I like the noodle tradition over cake too.

    Maja – that’s so sweet of you to bake your dad a cake. I think if I baked my dad a cake he would balk at all of the calories! My family isn’t big on sweets :) I’m sorry to hear that he had a tough year. I hope that he recovers fully and soon. You can certainly mix and match vegetables for the recipe. There is no set list of vegetables.

    Steph – he has a knack for stating these little tidbits.

    Joanne – ha ha ha! No comment!! :)

    Mrs E – oh, any noodles will do as long as they are 1) noodles and 2) not broken. I just happened to do this one b/c it sounded really good while I was at the grocery store :)

    Mollie – thanks dear!

    Kathy – I could write a book with stories and hilarious things my dad has said.

    Fiona – yeah, that was probably REALLY good advice for tech ;) I love that story of your friend and her grandfather. Too cute.

    Lan – thanks!

    Patricia – thank you. I don’t believe you were a wall flower, dear. You’re just being modest :)

    Margie – thanks.

    Mark – He would probably tell me that I made the noodles the wrong way, ha ha ha! Actually, I think my mom knows noodles better than dad, but he might not agree :)

    Connie K – Yes, I think that dinner is an important part of family. Jeremy and I generally do the same.

    Nate – thanks :)

    Irene – how neat! I like your traditions. Our dads could commiserate with one another.

    Jodi – thank you!

    Helena – ha ha, that’s so sweet of you to say. I’m not sure every daughter would be so happy to have my dad. He wanted sons, so he raised both my sister and I almost like boys :)

    Holly – Oh, that was forever ago. It was 93 or 94? Maybe you could go to Lisa’s blog and leave a comment for her there?

    Lori – well… what do you think? :) Thanks!

    Melissa – Don’t have to pretend to be Chinese, just declare that you want noodles! :)

    Ari – thanks!

    Tartelette – ha ha, my dad is quite the funny guy without even trying. Thank you, my friend.

    Olga – thanks!

  31. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    Your dad is one handsome guy, Jen. It sounds like you were raised a lot like I was. It was noisy and messy and crazy, but there was a lot of love and laughter. My father was all about family and we always seemed joined at the hip! I’m glad you got to spend some time with yours recently.

  32. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say how much I like that noodle dish. I really do! It looks similar to a dish I get a lot at my favorite Vietnamese place. I love those crispy noodles!

  33. jenyu says:

    Susan – he’ll be so flattered to read that! :) thanks, love!

  34. leon says:

    hey, i followed your instruction on this dish tonight. my wife was sooooo happy when she was having the dinner! cool!

  35. jenyu says:

    Leon – yay!

  36. Azri says:

    Hello, i happily stumbled across this site and glad i did. reading you speaking about your father made me remember mine. dad crossed” over” several years ago. i remember that every day on fathers day i would make him beef stir-fry. *wait for it* in my iron skillet! *L* i come from good redneck stock! :D that’s all he ever asked of me was to make him stir-fry for him on fathers day. the older i get the more i miss him, his advice, his unwavering strength. at the worst of times, i knew he was always standing behind me waiting silently until i called for his help. dad knew squat about raising daughters, but he was always there when we needed him most. he wasn’t a perfect man but he was a good man. please in any way you can let your father know you love & respect him. i hope his birthday was wonderful and that he has MANY more thereafter.

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  38. Vicky says:

    I’ve made this recipe a couple times now and absolutely loved it. I adapted it slightly by adding mirin and rice vinegar but either way its great. I was hosting a dinner party and served this as the main course, thinking I would definitely have leftovers considering how much I made – but it was all gone by the end of the night!

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