Quick Soupy Noodles – move over ramen!

We’re deep into the school and after-school schedule now, which means trying to get dinner on the table before swim class or Tae Kwon Do or…. This is a super quick twist on the Pan Asian Noodle Soup recipe posted a long time ago. For noodles, I like to use yaki-soba, but you can use any sort of instant noodles, fresh or dried. Try to buy the least processed noodles you can find and throw the seasoning packet directly into the trash! If you have time to make chicken broth and/or stew a chicken on the weekend, you’ll have homemade broth and cooked chicken meat on hand; if not, use organic free-range low sodium (phew!) chicken broth and cubed tofu in place of the chicken – storebought cooked chicken is usually not sustainably raised and is frequently full of chemical fillers and preservatives.

ingredients:

  • enough noodles for 4 portions
  • 8 oz cooked chicken, cut into 1/4″ slices across the grain
  • 2 heads baby bok choy

broth:

  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1.5 qt water, stock, or broth
  • 3 T Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam, available in Asian markets or in Asian section of conventional stores
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1&1/2 tsp brown or raw cane sugar
  • 3/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt (you may want to start without the salt and add to taste – the need for it varies based on your choice of liquid)
  • 1/8 tsp dried pepper flakes (optional, or you can serve chopped salted chilies, sriracha, hot oil, etc. to taste at the table)

method:

  1. Soak the bok choy in several changes of cool water until no more grit remains. Cut the leaves into 1/2″ ribbons and the stems crosswise into 1/2″ slices.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil until it shimmers, turn heat down to medium, then explode the ginger and garlic just until fragrant – do not allow the garlic to brown.
  3. Add the curry powder, and again cook just until it is fragrant.
  4. Add the water/broth/stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer for 5 m.
  5. Add the noodles, chicken, and bok choy to the broth, turn the heat back up, and return to a boil, by which time the soup is ready to serve.
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Basic Stirfried Noodles – Lo Mein

Noodle dishes make frequent appearances at banquets and birthday parties in China – the long noodles symbolize long life, so they are never broken or cut before serving.

While the kids and my husband tend to prefer soupy noodles (see Pan-Asian Noodle Soup post, for example), I have a weakness for stirfried noodles, called lo mein in Cantonese or lao mian in Mandarin. This recipe, a sort of cross between a stirfry and a braise, can be made with just about any type of noodle (even spaghetti, linguine, etc.) and forms the base for an infinite variety of combinations – what in the fridge looks like it’s on the way out, in other words!

ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb noodles
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 T ginger, cut into thin slivers or minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2″ sections on the diagonal

sauce:

  • 1 T light soy sauce
  • 1 T Shaoxing cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 c stock or broth
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
  • salt to taste

method:

  1. While you bring a pot of water to a boil, combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Cook the noodles just past the al dente stage – there should be no white center when you bite into one.
  3. Immediately drain the noodles and rinse with cold water until cool and no longer sticky. Drain for 15 -30 m, then gently loosen with wet hands or chopsticks.
  4. Heat a wok over medium high heat, then add oil just until it shimmers.
  5. Explode the ginger, garlic, and scallions just until fragrant, then add the sauce and bring it to a boil.
  6. Add the noodles, stir to combine thoroughly, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately.

variations:

  • If you already have leftover stirfry, reheat it quickly in the fragrant oil before adding the sauce in step 5.
  • Quickly blanched or stirfried vegetables make a great addition – add them when you add the noodles in the final step, or you can stirfry them quickly before you add the sauce in step 5.
  • You can also add stirfried beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, or tofu – see Mooshu Vegetables post for the appropriate marinade, then stirfry the protein quickly before adding the sauce in step 5.
  • I tend to avoid heavily processed foods, such as prepared sauces, so I leave the oyster sauce out of the sauce mixture – for a more genuine Cantonese taste, you can add 1 T of it.