Weekly Winner: Solitary Stir-Fried Noodles

stir fry udonI’m flying solo this week which means I usually fall back on old favorites or make something that I know my hubby doesn’t care for.  But this past week I came across this super simple noodle dish, Better-Than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon, in Bon Appetit which has two of my favorite components:  Pork and big, fat chewy udon noodles. I had to try it.

I thought the cabbage was a strange add in this and honestly, I was very close to subbing in coleslaw mix rather than the big pieces of cabbage called for.  I’m really glad I didn’t.  Those big pieces were such a pleasant surprise.  The other surprise was how incredibly quickly this comes together since you use instant udon.  Leftovers, by the way… are fabulous the next day!

Better-Than-Takeout Stir-Fired Udon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups very coarsely chopped green cabbage (from about ¼ medium head)
  • 2 7-ounce packages instant udon noodles, flavor packets discarded
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 5 scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ⅓ cup mirin
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

Procedure:

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Cook cabbage, tossing often, until edges are browned, about 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat, set aside.
  2. Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with 6 cups boiling water.  Let sit then drain.  Transfer noodles back to bowl and toss with sesame oil.  Add reserved cabbage and wipe out skillet.
  3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high and add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs.  Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is browned, about 3 minutes  Break up meat into smaller pieces and continue to cook, tossing, just until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 1 minute.
  4. Add chopped scallions (the white and pale green parts), ginger and red pepper flakes and cook, tossing often until scallions are softened and inside of skillet starts to brown, about 1 minute.
  5. Add noodle mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly and scraping up browned bits, until noodles are coated in sauce, about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and mix in sliced scallions (the dark green parts) and 1 Tbsp sesame seeds.
  6. Divide noodles among bowls and top with more sesame seeds.
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Weekly Winner: Stir(fry)ing up a Life-Changing Discovery

udon stir fryYou guys…. this is HUGE!  I recently discovered that frozen Asian noodles are … a thing!  I mean they exist!  And they’re awesome!!  Furthermore, a full-service Asian supermarket, H Mart, opened up in Chicago … right next door to a very good friend of mine.  Mind.  Blown.  This, friends… changes everything!!

I adore of any kind noodles (I’ve said it before and I’ll say in again), but if we’re talking about Asian noodles, without a doubt udon are my favorite.  I’ve noticed whenever I go to an Asian restaurant and order udon, they are absolutely divine. Chewy, thick, really something you can sink your teeth into.  However, when I try to recreate recipes at home with dried udon, I am always somewhat disappointed.  Frozen udon is the answer to my prayers!  Having stocked up on a ridiculously large quantity of them (they’re frozen!  they’ll keep forever!! they’re cheap!) I set out to find something to do with them.  Then I quickly remembered having pulled a recipe from Food Network Magazine for Stir-Fried Udon with Chicken and Vegetables, and off to work I went.

This is, perhaps, the most subtle dish I’ve ever made.  And by subtle, I definitely do not mean boring. There really are no standout flavors.  You can taste each ingredient and they are all bathed in a luscious, light, mushroom-broth-based sauce.  But winding its way through it all are those big, chewy, fabulous noodles.  Because the noodles cook up in minutes, this is a very quick, satisfying and tasty meal.  And while I suspect I’ll make this dish often, I now have a stash of amazing frozen noodles to experiment with.  I think it’s going to be a very “noodley” spring!

Stir-Fried Udon with Chicken and Vegetables

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 18 to 20 ounces fresh or frozen udon noodles
  • 1/4 cup mushroom broth
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 small head napa cabbage, chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 3 scallions (white and green parts separated), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

Procedure:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, stirring the noodles with your hands. Set aside.

Mix the mushroom broth, sake, soy sauce, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large liquid measuring cup; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and cook until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet, then add the cabbage, carrot and scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted and the carrot is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the snow peas and garlic and stir-fry until the garlic is golden, 1 to 2 more minutes. Add the noodles and stir-fry until dry and evenly combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the mushroom broth mixture and chicken to the skillet and cook, tossing, until the liquid is reduced and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 more minutes; season with salt and pepper. Divide the noodles and vegetables among bowls and top with the scallion greens.

Weekly Winner:  Marvelously Mellow, Magical Miso

I find that I’m quickly becoming a huge fan of miso.  I realize this is in no way a new ingredient.  On the contrary it’s been around for almost as long as Japanese cuisine has existed.  And while I’ve certainly had miso in quite a few Asian dishes, it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve started making it a central part of sauces, marinades and toppings.  It’s unctuous, salty, earthy and incredibly mellow.  It just seems to disappear into whatever you put it in, while making everything else in the dish taste more cohesive. It’s magic!  It’s like the perfect party mixer – everything that’s around miso just seems brighter, more savory and, well, yummier.

Which brings me to this week’s winner:  Edamame and Salmon Stir-Fry with Miso Butter. The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and is incredibly easy and ridiculously healthy.  The result is one of those dishes that you just keep going back for one more bite of.  And why not?  With all this good stuff in it go ahead and gorge!

Edamame and Salmon Stir-Fry with Miso Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp white miso

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 lb salmon, skinned and cut into one inch pieces

1 cup sliced shallots (about 3 medium)

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

8 oz frozen edamame (about 1-1/2 cups), thawed

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Procedure:

  1. Whisk miso, butter and water in a small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 14 inch skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not smoking.  Add salmon and cook, stirring gently, until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to a plate
  3. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, shallots, zucchini and edamame to the pan; cook, stirring until the vegetables are almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the miso sauce until well coated. Gently stir in the salmon and basil

Serve over rice noodles or rice.

Weekly Winner – A Simple Stir-Fried Supper

Beef Brussels Stir FrySometimes I forget that simple can be delicious.  A Weekly Winner recipe doesn’t have to take all day to make.  A few ingredients, simply treated and prepared correctly can turn into an amazing meal.  Case in point: Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir Fry.

I have had mixed emotions and results with my past forays into the world of stir frys.  Most of the time the results don’t seem as good as if I had just prepared the ingredients separately.  The flavors were muddled and some part always seems either under or over cooked.  But this recipe went perfectly.  The combination of flavors and textures epitomized what stir fry can, and should be.  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine.   It’s not just a winner, it’s a Weekly Winner.

Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir Fry

Ingredients

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 pound brussels sprouts, halved

8 ounces flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain

Kosher salt

4 scallions, whites chopped, greens sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger

2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced on a diagonal

1 Fresno chile or jalapeño, sliced into rings

Steamed rice (for serving)

Preparation

Whisk oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; wipe out skillet.

Season steak with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add steak in a single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds. Add to brussels sprouts.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, adjusting heat as needed. Add carrots and chile and cook, tossing occasionally, until carrots are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.

Return brussels sprouts and steak to skillet and add reserved sauce. Cook, tossing occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with scallion greens.