The perfect fried noodles
…Oh, how many attempts have led me to this final method. How many stubbornly stuck-on noodle bits on pans, how many over-greasy vegetables, how many PANS, may I reiterate that once more….I’ve finally found a method which requires no separate pan, no stickage, no straining of noodles and burning of skin, no need for fancy ingredients, no need for stress…indeed, it is perfect. Did I mention it’s also fast? Because you’re not worrying about maintaining two pots or cooking things, you can do this without much planning, and so it’ll be cheaper and as quick as if you’d run down to the takeaway store, waited for them to cook your meal, then returned home – but now you can have it straight out of the pan. Now before I take any credit for this, kudos must once again go to Kendra from My First Kitchen, who has posted about this sort of noodle perfection before.
A quick word about noodles: get them fresh (as in, not dried). They’re not more expensive, have no preservatives (according to the packet anyway), are made locally, and all in all, taste fabulous. They also take less time in the pan. Get them in the fridge at your closest asian market/foodstore, they will almost definitely have them (probably “Formosa” brand, which sells 500g packs, ideal for 4 people or 2 meals for 2 people). They won’t go off too quickly either, which is fantastic. You want “fresh ramen,” and the thickeness of the noodle is up to you – thicker of course will take longer. I’d recommend getting the white ones, although if you’re wanting to be really healthy you should try soba noodles – they’re grey, made with buckwheat flour, and have a sort of nuttier taste than your average noodles. Failing to get fresh noodles, don’t use two minute noodles if you can – there are plenty of other options in the pasta and noodle aisle at your supermarket. In terms of veges, this dish is very versatile – you can try substituting different ones, the following is merely a guide. I know cauliflower florets, mushrooms and peppers taste great in fried noodles too.
The key to making this really fast is to have all your ingredients out and ready before you turn on the heat for cooking. Then, there are plenty of opportunities for you to put things away while stuff is cooking in the pan.
The Perfect Fried noodles
half a 500g packet of fresh ramen/noodles
some deep fried tofu cubes, halved (also available at the fridge at asian foodstores)*
a few broccoli florets
fresh string/green beans, stalks removed and snapped into 2″ lengths (about a cup)
half a large/medium carrot, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, crushed and chopped finely
some spring onion, chopped on a diagonal, amount at your discretion
1 Tbs dark soy sauce mixed with about 1/3c water
salt and pepper
*if you’re looking for a chicken recipe, try Kendra’s original post, or just substitute leftover chicken. If you’re not cooking for many, freeze the tofu for another day (they don’t take long to defrost), as deep fried tofu doesn’t keep very long.
Put a jug of water on to boil – you want about 2-3cups at least (500ml-750ml).
Heat about 1/4c cooking oil in a very large non stick frying pan or wok on medium heat, and add a sprinkling on salt and pepper. Add beans and carrots, cover, and let cook for about a minute. Uncover, stir (or “toss” by jerking the pan forward and suddenly backwards), and cover again, letting cook for a further minute. Uncover, add halved tofu cubes and garlic, and another sprinkling of salt and pepper. Keep tossing and cooking until vegetables are about 80% done. Leave heat on, but take veges and tofu out of the pan, and set aside on a plate (preferably one you’ll eat off later, so as to reduce total dishes!).
Your water should have boiled by now, so tip enough of it into the hot pan to create a 1.5cm-2cm layer of water. Once water is boiling rapidly (should take next to no time), add the noodles to the pan. If using fresh noodles, aim to create a single layer, and separate the noodles out as much as you can. The noodles will now soak up all the flavour left in the pan, and the leftover oil should prevent stickage. Brilliant, huh? Let it boil and cook, stirring occasionally, and adding water occasionally when the noodles only have a little syrupy-looking water clinging to them, for about 3 minutes, until the noodles are almost done. Add the soy sauce and water mixture, and stop adding water after this addition. Once the noodles have almost soaked up the caramelly-coloured sauce, add the vegetables and tofu back in, stirring to coat the veges in the last of the sauce. Let cook for about a minute just to re-heat the veges, then taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Turn off heat, add spring onions, and serve!