I stand before the refrigerator, staring into the void, wondering what to make for lunch. When I’m home, I’m just not content with PB&J, you know?
I start thinking Noodles & Company. I love their Japanese Pan Noodles, with the shitake mushrooms and light sesame flavor. Unfortunately, we’re broke, and even if I had the available cash, I don’t want to go out. I just don’t.
I get online and go searching for a recipe. I can’t find the exact recipe, but I do find a recipe posted by someone who (supposedly) is (or was) the executive chef in the Noodles & Company corporate kitchen.
Awesome, I think to myself. We’ll go with that.
We tend to amass ingredients around our house. A couple of months ago, we discovered a huge oriental market within driving distance, and stocked up on basics: dried noodles, dried mushrooms, vinegars, and so on, at surprisingly low prices (a package of twenty-four, individual-serving bundles of dried noodles for about a dollar, for instance).
I had everything except the teriaki sauce, so I improvised a sauce using soy, hoisin, and honey. Not perfect, but it worked. I also left off the sprouts, sesame seeds, and cilantro.
Japanese Pan Noodles
Prep time: no idea. Less than ten minutes if you’re good with a knife and have an organized kitchen.
Cook time: about twenty minutes, figuring in boiling the noodles.
This recipe makes 4 servings. I estimate the cost was about fifty cents a serving. No, I’m not exaggerating.
3 cups hot cooked udon noodles (Japanese wheat noodles)
flank steak, thinly sliced (optional, and any meat would work.)
salt to taste
2-3 drops, toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), sliced
1 cup Asian sprouts
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup (2-inch) julienne-cut carrot
1 tbsp blk sesame seeds
1 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
In a mixing bowl, add the beef strips and mix with a little cornstarch.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Flash fry the beef strips and remove quickly.
To the wok, add the carrots and then broccoli. Stir fry 2-3 minutes and then remove.
Add a little oil, the saute the ginger & garlic. After a minute or so, add the well drained noodles and let carmelize. Add the red chili flakes. Add the sesame oil, teriyaki sauce and rice wine vinegar. Let cook for half a minute till the sauce is heated through.
Add all of the other ingredients and toss to coat well.
When you put the noodles into the hot oil, make sure they are well drained. Water drops that get into the oil will explode, spattering hot oil all over your stove top and, if you’re within range (and you will be), you.
When the vegetables are in, keep them moving so they don’t burn. Optionally, you can steam them first – broccoli for two minutes, carrots for five – and skip the “stir fry the veggies” part. The end result is the same, it’s just a little more work.
If you’re using dried shitake mushrooms, you have to rehydrate them first. Put them in boiling water for ten minutes or so, then use that liquid to cook the noodles.