Slow Cooker Asian Beef and Rice Noodle Bowls

May 5, 2017



I have to admit it–the last few weeks of the school year always thoroughly kick my ass. Why, why, do they cram so much crapola into the measly three weeks left? It seems like we have some sort of activity, meeting or scheduled do-hickey every dang day/night. Don’t they know that we’re already scrambling? That our kids are stressed to the eyeballs with finals and finishing projects?

I’m having trouble keeping track of it all. And then there’s the whole “summer planning” stuff that I’m supposed to be doing, too. I’m using the word “supposed” loosely, because I’m grossly behind on said summer planning. I have yet to sign Miss D. up for…*gasp, cough*…driver’s education classes (Jesus, the horror) and I’m pretty sure all of the good camps are already full for the summer, and we need to think about ACT/SAT prep courses at some juncture, but I just can’t make myself go there yet. I’m firmly in denial that my older daughter is a) getting ready to drive and b) headed for college in a few years. Unfair, universe! I have to deal with that and Miss M. starting middle school this fall? That seems like an unfair burden.

No wonder I’ve been blue.

Well, there’s that whole issue of Mother’s Day coming up and a stretch of gray, rainy weather, too. Those things aren’t helping either.

I know it’s just a passing thing, and that I won’t feel mopey forever, but I’m having a hard time getting motivated to get out of bed in the morning. Especially when the pace of life is so frenetic in May.

Busy days and a case of the sads isn’t helping my efforts in the kitchen.

Frankly, I’m just not feeling it.

The past few weeks, I haven’t planned my menus or even really gotten a decent grocery list together. I end up in the grocery store with no plan, no list, and I end up wandering around in befuddlement. Then I find myself looking into a pantry with seven kinds of nut butters on the shelf and no bread.

I need to get myself together. Man cannot live on cashew and almond butter alone.

Depressed souls need nourishment, and comforting meals.

Meals like the one I’m going to tell you about now. This is the perfect tonic for a bad run of days, or a crazy life stuffed with activities. Most of the work is done by the slow cooker, so you can forget about most of it until right before you’re ready to get dinner on the table.

Then, throw together a quick vegetable garnish and boil up some rice noodles (or rice, if you prefer) and you’ve got something that will definitely soothe your frazzled nerves.

The hardest part of this meal is stocking your pantry with some Asian staples like soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil and ginger for the marinated beef. I am a condiment whore (particularly condiments of the Vietnamese variety) and always have those things on hand, but if you need to drive to the grocery store to get those items, do it. This marinade is worth it. The meat comes out of the slow cooker fall-apart juicy and tender and delicious.

If you’re so inclined and have a bit of extra time, you can even add one of those genius six-minute eggs I mentioned a few weeks back. Just for a little extra protein, because you’re tired. Or not. Up to you.

I guarantee though, you’ll feel better after slurping up a bowl of this stuff. And you might even have leftovers, to boot, and the leftovers are even better. That’s good news that we all could use some of.

Deep breath and strong push forward, readers. We can make it to that summer break! We can! I promise.


Slow Cooker Asian Beef and Rice Noodle Bowls

serves 6


For the beef:

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into three pieces

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped Asian pear or Granny Smith apple

3 crushed garlic cloves

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Sriracha or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


For the quick pickles:

2 cups thinly sliced cucumbers

1 cup shredded carrots

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup chopped cilantro


For bowls:

cooked rice noodles

sesame seeds

chopped fresh basil, cilantro or scallion

Optional: lime wedges, Sriracha, soft-boiled egg, chopped peanuts


For the beef: In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, onion, pear/apple, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and Sriracha. Add the beef. Seal bag and refrigerate overnight.

Place the beef in a slow cooker. Strain marinade and pour over beef. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat is fall-apart tender and shreds easily. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid (discard the rest) and shred the beef with 2 forks. Transfer beef and reserved liquid back into the slow cooker to keep warm.

For quick pickles: combine all ingredients, toss well and set aside.

Build your bowl: Make a bed of cooked rice noodles. Top with beef mixture, quick pickles, sesame seeds, herbs and any other desired garnishes

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie May 5, 2017 at 5:30 am

Man, I’ve been feeling the end of the school year busy too. Sarah is done on Tuesday already. We don’t have finals to contend with yet thank god. Just the thought of adding that into the crazy makes me panic . How is Miss D going to be driving?!


elizabeth May 5, 2017 at 6:31 am

We’ve actually had a string of lovely days this week, but today the weather is a giant wet raspberry which is appropriate since I’m in A Mood today. This looks so fucking good and I kind of wish I had it waiting for me for lunch instead of the (admittedly very good) lunch I have in the fridge.


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