I love noodles. All noodles. They are inexpensive, and a limitless blank canvas for a quick and delicious dinner. Italian pasta is what I cook most frequently, but I gravitate towards noodles no matter what the cuisine. I recently went to a Chinese market on a Sunday afternoon, to stock up on authentic Asian ingredients. I was the only person in the market that wasn’t Chinese; one elderly woman seemed to think I was lost, as she was kindly trying to guide me towards the exit in the parking lot. Yet, I emerged victorious with a variety of Chinese and Japanese noodles, and condiments for a mere seventeen dollars. My first culinary endeavor from this field trip was to use some fresh Chinese egg noodles for a pan-fried noodle dish, courtesy of Melissa Clark, brilliant food writer for the New York Times.
You could also use rice noodles or soba noodles for this recipe, but I loved the chewiness of the egg noodles. If you can’t get to a Chinese market, Trader Joe’s is now carrying fresh rice noodles at about two bucks a package. If you can get your hands on them, the thin Chinese egg noodles are also called Hong Kong style noodles, and they can be purchased fresh or dried. I have discovered that there are two key factors to cooking Asian noodles. The first is that you must not overcook the noodles, although this really applies to all noodles, Asian, Italian, or otherwise. The little freshies I used for this recipe took a mere 10 seconds in the boiling water. The second key factor is rinsing the noodles. This is something I never do with Italian pasta, unless the recipe has a specific and rational reason to call for it. With Asian noodles, it took me some time to catch on, but rinsing is critical. Not only does rinsing stop further cooking, but it prevents the noodles for coagulating into a gummy, gooey mess. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. Give your noodles a thorough rinse with cold water, and then toss them with a splash of oil. It could just be a neutral cooking oil, like peanut or canola, but I like to use chile oil or toasted sesame oil if it pairs well with the recipe.
This recipe is quick, easy, and inexpensive. Lovely noodles, flavored with garlic, ginger, soy, and sesame oil. They are stir-fried with spicy sriracha and eggs, to give the dish a bit of heft. The dish is then garnished with cilantro, crunchy peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime. The garnishes are really important, as they had texture, freshness, and a bit of acidity to cut through the lush sea of noodles. It is a vegetarian dish, so you can pretend your bowl of fried noodles are healthy. This recipe is nearly fool proof, as long as you prep all of your ingredients before you pre-heat your frying pan. Boil the noodles, thaw the edamame, chop everything, beat the eggs with a fork. Prepare every possible element because once your pan is hot, the dish comes together really quick. The eggs are one of last things you add to the pan, and I recommend pushing all of your noodles to one side of the pan before doing so. Then poor in the eggs, allowing them to spread out as much as possible, and let the partially set for about 30 seconds or so before tossing everything to combine. That way some of the egg with get evenly distributed through the noodles, adding silkiness, but you will still find a few pieces of scrambled egg that set in the pan, just like you do in fried rice or pad Thai. Very tasty.
Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles (lightly adapted from Melissa Clark)
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (about a bunch; use both whites and greens, but don’t slice them too fine)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1-2 teaspoons chile oil (optional)
- 8 ounces Chinese (also called Hong Kong) egg noodles, soba noodles or rice noodles
- 2 – 2½ tablespoons neutral oil, more as needed
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
- 1/2 cup thawed edamame (I have tried this recipe with both, and I prefer edamame)
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon, but Melissa Clark recommend 1-2 teaspoons)
- Juice of 1/2 lime, or to taste
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
- In a small bowl, combine the scallions, soy sauce, ginger, rice wine or vinegar, sesame oil and a good squirt of sriracha. Let stand while you prepare the noodles.
- In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles until they are halfway done according to package instructions. They should still be quite firm-mine needed just 10 seconds, but it will vary depending on the noodles you purchase. Drain well, rinse with cold water, and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of neutral oil or chile oil to keep them from sticking. Set aside.
- In a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of neutral oil. Add the garlic for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add half the scallion mixture and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the edamame and the noodles; stir-fry until noodles are hot and lightly coated with sauce, about 30 seconds. Push noodles to the side of the pan, and add eggs, allowing to set up for about 30-45 seconds. Meanwhile pour the remaining sauce over the noodles, and additional sriracha if desired. Continue to stir-fry until the eggs are cooked, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat, and serve in bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, cilantro, and peanuts. I like an extra drizzle of sriracha, as well.
September 2, 2016