Easy Asian fennel beef rice noodle bowls

Build a meal with cold rice noodles, add your favorite crunchy vegetables, top with peanut sauce, fresh herbs, and a pan-seared steak.

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    Build a meal with cold rice noodles, add your favorite crunchy vegetables, top with peanut sauce, fresh herbs, and a pan-seared steak.
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Oh hey JULY! What the what!? I know it’s not until tomorrow, but seriously: did June even happen? I guess it’s a good sign – that I’m enjoying myself and therefore time is FLYING – but this also means we’re nearing the middle of the summer… which feels impossible.

These noodle bowls are a variation on what has quickly become our favorite meal these days. Cold rice noodles, veg, peanut sauce, herbs, and (this time) STEAK. Oh man. I honestly think I could eat a variation of this meal literally every meal of the day for months and months (and I basically did just that for the three months I was in Vietnam!).

Feel free to throw in your meat (or non-meat!) of choice! Chicken or pork would work really well here (just make sure to cook both of those all the way through), and if you’re a tofu master I think you could make a TASTY tasty tofu situation here.

Recommended: 30 Asian recipes to try at home

Easy Asian fennel beef rice noodle bowls
Serves 4

For the steak:
1 lb. thin steak (I used Denver steak)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or Tamari if you need gluten-free!)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

For the sauce:
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 cup water

For assembly:
12 oz. rice noodles, cooked
2 large carrots, grated*
1 jalapeño, sliced thin
4 cups kale leaves, chopped very small*
1 bulb fennel, sliced very thin
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
more optional toppings: crushed peanuts, chopped cilantro, sliced green onion

1. In a zip-top bag, combine the steak with the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and garlic. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes, and up to overnight. This will be the last thing you actually cook, though!

2. Before you make the sauce, get a water boiling for the noodles and cook them if you haven't already. When the noodles are done, drain, rinse in cold water, and toss with a little oil to keep them from sticking. Set aside.

3. To make the sauce, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, garlic clove, ginger, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, honey, and water together in a small blender or cup that you can use an immersion blender in. You can also whisk vigorously, if neither of those options work for you. Once the sauce is smooth, taste and add more of what you want (honey for more sweetness, lime for more acidity, fish sauce for depth, soy sauce for salt, etc.).

4. When everything is chopped and ready for assembly, cook the beef. If you have a grill, heat it up really hot and cook for about 2 minutes on each side! If you're using a pan on the stove, get the pan really hot and cook in the same manner (about 2 minutes on each side). Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

5. To assemble, take a little bit of each ingredient and put it in a bowl! Toss with some sauce, and enjoy!

Notes: I use my food processor for a lot of the vegetable prep here. I use the shredder attachment for the carrots (and beets, if I use them!) and the s-blade for the kale!

Related post on The Kitchen Paper: Rice Noodle Salad with Beets, Carrots, and Herbs

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