Carmichael chef wins Sunrise Seniors Eats challenge

Publish Date:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 5:19 pm EDT

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News Organization:

The Sacramento Bee

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Mikah Montoya, a chef at Sunrise Senior Living in Carmichael, brought home top honors in the retirement communities’ national “Sunrise Seniors Eats” Nutritional Challenge.

Montoya created his take on Beef Chow Fun, a veggie-packed stir-fry atop pasta, during a recent cook-off of the top four finalists pulled from more than 300 Sunrise retirement communities nationwide. His winning entry earned him the title “Sunrise Signature Chef."

A bit of well-seasoned flank steak helped make Montoya’s recipe a winner, not only with judges but with the seniors he serves. Montoya is dining services coordinator at Sunrise of Carmichael, where he’s worked since 2009.

Beef in small quantities can be part of a healthy diet, Montoya said. Beef contains several nutrients that are particularly important for senior health.

“While limiting intake of foods high in saturated fats is important, a small portion of lean beef can be very good for your health,” Montoya wrote as an introduction to his winning entry. “Lean beef is high in protein, iron, zinc and selenium. Iron helps metabolize proteins in the body, including hemoglobin and myoglobin, both of which help carry oxygen in our blood. Iron also helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Zinc prevents damage to blood vessel walls and is also necessary for the immune system to function properly. Selenium has been shown to reduce the severity of certain inflammatory conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.”

The key is moderation. Instead of a slab of steak, Montoya serves his seniors lean beef as part of a vegetable-packed entree. His winning Beef Chow Fun recipe is a fusion of Asian and Italian mainstays. It incorporates Chinese seasonings and sauces over pappardelle pasta, which subs for traditional wide rice noodles.

Beef Chow Fun

This is Chef Mikah Montoya’s winning recipe.

1 ½ pounds flank steak

2 cups beef stock

½ cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 pound dry pappardelle pasta

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 cup oyster sauce

¼ cup sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar snap peas

2 cups shredded carrots

2 cups julienned red bell peppers

2 cups beans sprouts

1 red onion, sliced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup sliced green onions

Whisk together the stock, soy sauce and sesame oil. Place the flank steak in a shallow container and cover with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate.

Remove the beef from the marinade and sear on a hot grill until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain into very thin pieces.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss with the vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Whisk together the oyster sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, carrots, bell peppers, bean sprouts and onion. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the pasta, sauce and beef. Cook for 1 minute more to heat through.

Remove from the heat and top with the cilantro and green onions. Serve over pasta.

Serves 8.

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