kruizing with kikukat

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is it Tomato Beef or Beef Tomato?

In a few days, the seniors will no longer be seniors.  They will be graduates.  Wow.

This year has gone by quickly.  A year ago, I knew none of my current students, and I was eagerly counting the days I had left to work in that office.   There were very few bittersweet feelings. . .I was so glad the year would be ending soon.  When you are in an environment where many people want to be the boss, you end up with a bunch of assholes giving needless commands for the sole purpose of attempting to demonstrate their authority. . .clerical staff trying to levy sanctions based on their warped understanding of educational protocols and law.  Just an example. . .bosses having to mediate between clerk and teacher (not me. . .I just watched).  It was nice to leave that kind of toxic environment and be with students.

This year, I'm still counting down, but the countdown is bittersweet.  I am going to miss the class of 2014.  My students have taught me so much, and I feel I have become a better teacher because of the lessons they gave me.  I hope I was able to return the favor to them and that I met their expectations of what a good teacher should be.

Sniff, sniff. . .I think I am about to cry now.  I hope I can be strong and not cry on their last day.  Graduation is such a big occasion, and I don't want to be remembered as the crybaby teacher. 

This is going to be a busy week.  This evening is the athletic awards program.  Thursday will be the "jumping in the pool" assembly for seniors.  This is a big moment for seniors.  They wait four years just to get to jump in the pool!  Jumping in the pool for PE isn't quite the same.  Commencement ceremonies take place Friday evening.  I will be there to send them off. . .just as I was there to welcome them on the first day of school.

Work notwithstanding, my own kids have a lot going on this week too.  D1 has several school functions today, and so does D2.  D1 and I will also need to be at commencement.  Knowing how busy this week will be, I decided not to expect much in the way of cooking.  The m.o. for this week will be pick-up. . .Cham Cham, Leung's, Cafe 100. . .all fair game.  So to ease my feelings of guilt, I made this for dinner last night.  Beef Tomato/Tomato Beef on noodles is something we all enjoy.  Its even easier if its made without the noodles, but since the Ds love chow mein noodles, I rarely omit the noodle part.

I'm not sure how the rest of the world sees this dish, but it is a favorite selection on the menu of most Chinese restaurants in Hawaii.  It is also one of the few dishes all of us will willingly eat.  D1 will eat everything but the tomatoes.  D2 will eat only noodles, broccoli, and baby corn.  But there is something for everyone here, and when I make this, there are hardly any leftovers.

Kikukat Mom occasionally made this, probably at the request of Kikukat Dad, but I'm sure her heart wasn't into it. . .she won't eat onion or bell pepper so that certainly put a damper on her enthusiasm.  Also, when she did make it, she never made the noodles.  It was always eaten over rice.  Not being a huge fan of vegetables back then, I showed no enthusiasm for this dish and have no fond memories.

When I got older, I came across a recipe in a cookbook which sounded like something I could eat.  By then I was eating all kinds of vegetables (except peas, which I still do not eat).  I added the baby corn at D2's request.  I really didn't think much of this dish, but after posting a picture of this on facebook, I was floored by the amount of comments and the # of requests.  The next day, both Ds each left with a container of this for their teachers (and my friends) who had asked, via facebook, for a taste.

The other aspect of my facebook post which left me speechless was the debate over the name of this dish.  I remember hearing "Tomato Beef" all the time, but many of my friends insisted the correct order was "Beef Tomato".  One friend, a logical tita indeed, pointed out that a closely related dish is called "Beef Broccoli", not "Broccoli Beef".

click on recipe title for printable recipe
Beef Tomato or Tomato Beef Chow Mein

     1 lb flank steak
     3 tbsp shoyu, divided
     1 tbsp shao xing wine
     2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
     1 1/2 tsp sugar
     1 clove garlic, minced
     1/2" ginger, grated
     1/2 onion, sliced
     1 head broccoli, peeled and cut into florets
     1 stalk celery, sliced thin
     1 bell pepper, sliced into 1/2" strips
     1 can baby corn, drained
     2 stalks green onion, sliced in 1/2" lengths
     1 c chicken broth
     2 tbsp cornstarch
     2 tsp salt
     1 tbsp brown sugar, packed
     1 tsp oyster sauce
     2 tsp ketchup
     3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
     20-30 oz cooked chow mein noodles

Freeze flank steak for 30 minutes.  Slice against grain into pieces (2 1/2" x 1" x 1/4").  Combine with 1 tbsp shoyu, shao xing, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger.  Let stand at least 30 minutes.  When meat is nearly done marinating, place chow mein noodles in a baking dish and heat in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.  While noodles are heating, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a wok over high heat.  Stir fry flank steak pieces until done.  Remove from wok and set aside.  Add  onions, broccoli, and celery to wok.  Stir fry 1 minute.  Add bell pepper and stir fry for another minute.  Add baby corn and green onion and stir fry for another minute.  Combine chicken broth, cornstarch, 2 tbsp shoyu, salt, brown sugar, oyster sauce, and ketchup.  Pour over vegetables in wok.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Return beef to pan.  Add tomatoes.  Heat for a minute.  Pour over heated noodles.

This year, D2's school did not have their usual ho`olaule`a.  Instead, they did `aha mele (song festival).  I'm guessing the `aha mele choice over ho`olaule`a was done to conserve instructional time, as the practicing takes away from classroom time.  Having been notified of the `aha mele earlier last week, I was unable to get a sub.  Another elementary school had their May Day program on the same day so I can imagine how many teacher-parents needed subs.  Administration gave me their blessings to attend (what did I say...I have THE best bosses), but it would have been difficult and would've taxed the personnel resources of my department.  Luckily, The Help and Mr. Dependable were able to make it.

This will be the last elementary school May Day for D2.  In a few months,  D2 will be matriculating at another school.  It hasn't always been easy for D2 to follow D1.  They are just so different, and I can imagine the shock people have when they realize D2 is NOT a miniature D1.  I'm grateful that her 5th grade teachers gave her a chance to participate in the last ho`olaule`a as an island princess, something D1 never did.  

And for the second time while writing this week's post, I'm feeling like I'm about to cry.

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