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Sloppy Joe With Chinese Characteristics

Serves 4, Cooking time about ~1 hr

This recipe arose from my haphazard attempts to reconstruct a bowl of noodles I ate fourteen years ago. It uses some Chinese techniques, ingredients, and flavors but is by no means "authentic" Chinese cuisine. I've included instructions here for serving the dish with noodles and steamed vegetables, but the important part is the meat/sauce mixture, which can be served in pretty much any way you could eat sloppy joe (thus the name). Some of the ingredients may be a bit unfamiliar to the typical American kitchen, so I've included links to buy online or reference for a shopping trip to your local Chinese grocery store. Enjoy!


2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated
3 Tbsp Zhenjiang/Chinkiang Vinegar
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
3 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp Sichuan-style chili oil (I like this recipe, but you can use Laoganma or any other Sichuan style oil with chili flakes in it)
4 Tbsp gochujang
4 Tbsp water
2 star anise pods

4 scallions
1 lb ground beef
1 1-1/2" piece of Chinese brown sugar or 3 Tbsp regular brown sugar
3 Tbsp peanut oil

4 servings lamian style noodles (you can use fresh or refrigerated, I like Yidu Lanzhou style noodles. They come in packets with 4 pre-divided portions and are super cheap)

4 baby bok choy, washed and roughly chopped


Combine first group of ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk until fully combined. Set aside

Slice white and light green parts of scallions very thinly, and mix with ground beef. Cut scallion greens into rough ~1" pieces and set aside

Set large pot of water to boil

In the meantime, add peanut oil and sugar to a wok or large cast iron skillet. Heat over medium low, stirring frequently, until sugar is melted. Take care not to burn. Raise heat to high and add beef/scallion mixture. Stir constantly until beef is browned and coated with sugar mixture. Lower heat to medium and add sauce. Bring to a fast simmer and stir frequently until sauce is reduced to a sticky consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove star anise and keep warm over low heat

When water boils, add noodles and cook per package instructions. Remove with tongs or a skimmer, keeping water boiling, and divide between bowls. Add bok choy to pot and boil for 30 seconds, then remove with skimmer and divide between bowls.

Turn heat on beef mixture back up to medium and add scallion greens, stirring constantly until greens darken in color and become soft. Divide beef and sauce between bowls


A flower is not a flower. It is made only of non-flower elements—sunshine, clouds, time, space, earth, minerals, gardeners, and so on...

A true flower contains the whole universe.

If we return any one of these non-flower elements to its source, there will be no flower...

(Thich Nhat Hanh)


I'm very honored to be petaling with you all.


today i went to a beer garden i hadn’t been to in 2.5 years to say bye to s., who’s moving to chicago, which for me is bad timing. then got dinner w/ o. & fam in town. last night saw j. way up at bar i hadn’t been to in three years. there’s not much to quote on p262.


Thank you for the music
The songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it
I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?

Congrats on the launch Petal!