Chef Ali's Cellophane Noodle Soup with Beef and Chinese Cabbage

Chinese Cabbage

Long, pale and frilly Chinese cabbage is mainstay throughout Asia. Left raw it adds crunch to a salad or slaw, sautéed it adds texture to a stir fry and slowly braised it soaks up flavors becoming a beautiful vehicle for flavor. Here are 3 recipes one for each incarnation.

Cellophane Noodle Soup with Beef and Chinese Cabbage

This soup is sort of an amalgam of a Japanese dish called Sukiyaki and Vietnamese Pho. It is wonderful on a cold night, or afternoon, even the morning. Cellophane noodles can be found at most natural food stores. They are made from mung beans and get all slippery and unctuous in the broth. If you don’t eat beef substitute chicken, fish or vegetable stock and obviously leave out the beef, if you choose chicken you will have to let it cook a bit longer in the broth, but leftover roast chicken is a terrific substitute.


  • 3 quarts Aromatic broth (recipe below)

  • 1-pound sirloin or chuck steak sliced against the grain as thinly as possible, which works best when half frozen marinated in the following and– (you can also use cooked leftover meat, add marinade directly to broth if you chose that option)

  • Marinade:

  1. 2 cloves garlic sliced
  2. 1 tsp fish sauce
  3. 1 tsp raw sugar
  4. ¼ cup sherry or rice wine or sake
  5. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  6. 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 whole Chinese cabbage- white parts cut into 1” pieces
  • Burnt onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup carrot cut in 1” pieces
  • 3 scallions cut in to 1” pieces
  • 1 package firm tofu cut in 1” chunks
  • 3 bundles of cellophane noodles soaked for 10 minutes in hot water then drained
  • arnish- Raw sliced jalapeno, basil leaves, lime juice, scallion, Gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste) or sriracha, hoisin sauce)


  1. Bring Aromatic broth up to a simmer

  2. Add Chinese cabbage, carrots & scallions

  3. Cook for 20 minutes until carrots are soft

  4. Bring heat up to almost a boil and add the raw meat and marinade

  5. Cook for about 5 minutes you want it to remain tender

  6. Add cellophane noodles, cook for another few minutes until then become clear

  7. Divide tofu among 4 bowls

  8. Ladle soup over tofu along with, spoon out meat, noodles and vegetables

  9. Garnish with whatever you like

  10. The noodles are very very slurpy – you’ll need a spoon and chopsticks or a fork.


Aromatic Broth - you can make this a few days ahead of time or even overnight in a crock pot.

  • 1 half of a yellow onion (Don’t slice it just cut it in half)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 10-12 black peppercorns
  • 1” piece peeled ginger, smashed
  • 2” piece of lemon grass pounded with a mallet a few times
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 tbs fish sauce (omit if vegetarian)
  • 3 quarts beef stock – homemade or purchased
  1. Place the onion cut side down in a pre-heated pan (if you have a gas stove you can do this directly over the flame) and let it burn—no really it needs to char- you should probably open a window or turn on the exhaust fan when you do this- it takes about 8 minutes. Set it aside when done to use for the soup.
  2. Heat a large pot and add cinnamon stick, star anise, fennel seeds and black peppercorns
  3. Cook until fragrant- only a few minutes, watch them carefully you don’t want them to burn
  4. Add the garlic, lemon grass and ginger stir around
  5. Add Stock and fish sauce
  6. Allow this to simmer for about at least hour, don’t let it boil.
  7. Strain and discard all the bits

Chef Ali's Peanut Noodles with Asian Slaw

Chinese Cabbage

Long, pale and frilly Chinese cabbage is mainstay throughout Asia. Left raw it adds crunch to a salad or slaw, sautéed it adds texture to a stir fry and slowly braised it soaks up flavors becoming a beautiful vehicle for flavor. Here are 3 recipes one for each incarnation.

Peanut Noodles with Asian Slaw

I LOVE this dish for a potluck it can be served warm, room temperature or cold straight from the fridge (actually it’s a fabulous thing to find in your fridge when rummaging through looking for a midnight snack). If you have a peanut sensitivity substitute tahini for the peanut butter, and toasted sesame seeds for the peanuts. This works well with many types of pasta from soba noodles to rice noodles to angel hair, it is especially fantastic with fresh Chinese egg noodles if you can find them.


Asian Slaw

This slaw can hold its own as side dish with sticky ribs, teriyaki salmon or shrimp, on top of any sort of fish especially tuna or pan fried haddock. It makes a terrific addition to sandwiches and a fun refresher with sriracha spiced chicken wings. It works well with anything spicy, sticky or fatty.


  • 3 cups Chinese Cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons (julienne)
  • cup red bell or horn pepper, sliced into thin ribbons, ribs and seeds removed
  • 2 scallions sliced thinly
  • ½ cup grated carrot
  • 1 whole Asian pear cut into matchsticks (sub apple or jicama if there is no Asian pear available)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. neutral oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed or peanut)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice & zest from 1 lime
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves


  1. Place the cabbage in a large bowl
  2. ix together salt, ginger and sugar
  3. Rub the salt/sugar mixture into the cabbage and let sit about 10 minutes
  4. Add remaining vegetables
  5. Whisk together the oils, lime juice & vinegar
  6. Let sit at least 15 more minutes or overnight
  7. Toss cilantro leaves in right before serving

Other things you can add: Slivers of ripe mango, slivered of under-ripe mango or papaya, julienned daikon radish, julienned jicama, julienned broccoli stems, Thai basil leaves, fresh mint leaves, bean sprouts, pea shoots or slivered snow peas (raw or blanched)

Peanut Sauce

  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy or tamari
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  1. Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy
  2. aste and adjust seasoning to your liking, you may like it saltier or sweeter or find you like more acid or spice

Putting the dish together

  • 1 pound noodles of choice
  • ½ cup chopped salted roasted peanuts or toasted sesame seeds
  1. Boil the noodles in salted water according to package instructions
  2. Before draining the noodles set aside ½ cup of the pasta water
  3. Drain noodles and set aside in large bowl
  4. Whisk reserved hot noodle water in to the peanut sauce
  5. Add sauce to noodles and using tongs gently turn the noodles in the sauce about 20 times until all the noodles are covered in sauce
  6. op with slaw and peanut right before serving.

You can make this a more substantial meal by adding cooked shredded chicken or some bits of firm tofu or cooked shrimp, pork or beef.

Ham Steaks and Gravy in the Crockpot

Fresh Ham Steaks and Gravy in the crock pot

Perfect for the crock pot or other slow cooker.


• 1 Whatley Farm organic fresh Ham Steak, cut into 2 pieces. Our ham steaks are large and equal 2 store-­bought steaks
• 1⁄4 cup butter
• 6 Tbsp flour (or equivalent gluten-free thickener - see this article in Bon Appetit for suggestions)
• 2 cups chicken or turkey stock – preferably homemade
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1/2 tsp celery seed
• 1 Tbsp "Rosemary's Italian Blend" from Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants 
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 2 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped – or use dried mushrooms and rehydrate


1. If you are using dried mushrooms, rehydrate in enough warm water to cover, until tender.
2. Warm the chicken stock.
3. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add flour and stir together. Cook on low, stirring constantly, until slightly golden. Slowly pour in the warmed stock, whisking to smooth out the lumps, until mixture is nice and thick. 
4. Add remaining ingredients – salt, pepper, chives, parsley, garlic, mushrooms. Stir sauce until well mixed. Adjust seasoning to taste.
5. Pour a little sauce into crock pot, place one piece of ham steak in crock pot, pour half of sauce over it, place second piece of steak in, pour remaining sauce.
6. Cook for at least 4 hours on high. It is done when the meat is tender and falls apart in large chunks. If you double this recipe you will need to increase the cooking time, as the bulk in the crock pot will slow down the cooking a bit.