Mondays have become de facto noodle-night in our house thanks to how easy it is to cram a load of chilli, ginger and garlic into a big bowl of ramen or udon and put the weekend behind us while catching up on Boardwalk Empire. Due to the illegal/highly unethical nature of weekend workouts, Monday is the day to get back on the T25, so loads of noodles and vegetables provides good fuel for that.
If you’ve ever used one of those Stir Fry kits you get form the supermarket – a big bag of cabbage and beansprouts, egg noodles and a sachet of gloopy sauce for about four quid – you’ll know that they kind of suck – the vegetables are all filler no killer, the sauce is cloying, and the noodles end up leaving their impression on the base of your wok, and reducing to mush in the meal.
I went to Fuji Hero last week and noted that they overcome this problem dousing the dish in curry oil, which tasted brilliant but went against everything Noodle-night stands for. Rather than lubing my udon with oil, I made a little bit of stock using Miso paste, mirin and soy to stop them sticking to the wok – as a bonus, it helped cook them through properly, something else which is difficult when cooking such thick noodles quickly on a high heat.
I used mange tout and baby corn this time because they were in the reduced aisle at the supermarket, but feel free to experiment with the vegetables – just be really careful not to overcook them, a couple of minutes is plenty. The same goes for the beansprouts, you want them to provide nice bit of crunch and texture rather than going limp and sagging all over the place, so put them in when everything else is cooked, take it off the hob and let the residual heat bring it all home.
Any ingredients that don’t look familiar will be available in the world food section of any decent-sized supermarket, (including vacuum-sealed Udon which are much cheaper than name-brand versions or the bags from the vegetable section) or any nearby Chinese supermarkets which you should familiarise yourself with as soon as possible because they are a goldmine.
Serves 2. Preparation 10 Minutes, Cooking 10 Minutes
- 300g Shaved steak/Stir fry beef
- 2 Tbsp Soy
- 2 Tbsp Mirin (or Rice Wine Vinegar)
- 2 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 Clove Garlic, crushed
- Half a Red chilli, chopped
- 1 Carrot, julienne
- Handful of mange tout
- Handful of baby corn
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, julienne
- Half a tin of water chestnuts
- 1 tsp Red Miso paste
- 1 tbsp Soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Mirin
- 1 tbsp Sesame oil
- 4 tbsp Water
- 2 portions of straight to wok Udon noodles
- Big handful of Beansprouts
- Spring onions, Red Chilli and Sesame Seeds to garnish
- Marinade the beef in a mixture of the Soy, Mirin, Brown Sugar, Garlic and Chilli – the longer the better. If you can do this before work and leave it in the fridge all day then brilliant, but who’s that organised? Worst case scenario, just leave it marinading for as long as it takes you to julienne the vegetables.
- Fry the beef in some sesame oil for about a minute, or until it’s seared. Add the vegetables, ginger and water chestnuts and cook for another minute or so, remembering not to overcook it. Transfer this into another pan.
- Add the miso paste, soy, Mirin, sesame oil and water to the wok you’ve just used for the beef and mix it all together while bringing it to a simmer. Break up the noodles and cook them in the wok for a minute or two.
- Toss the beef and vegetables with the noodles for a minute to heat them up and disperse all the ingredients evenly. Take off the heat and stir the beansprouts through.
- Dish it out and garnish with sesame seeds, red chilli for a bit of clean heat, and spring onions for freshness.