One of the most exciting developments over the last few weeks was discovering that my supermarket now carries udon and soba noodles. For those of you who live in a more progressive or urban food zone, this might be no big whoop–but here, in the boonies of Jersey, the most exotic items typically found in the food aisles are Vermont cheddar and gluten-free crackers.
This find is even more exciting because besides a lack of exotic food stuffs, there is no Asian take-out in these parts. Unless you count a place one-town-over that I think is called Asian Delight. It is decidedly undelightful.
So now I can now make my own version of lo mein with seared shrimp or salmon, or a bowl of spicy cold soba, or udon added to a soup of leftover chicken and greens, or my favorite: Just an everyday stir fry of noodles and vegetables. Here’s what I do
Cook the udon or soba noodles according to the packaging and then rinse them completely in cold water (they’ll be warmed up when you add them to the pan with the cooked vegetables; if you’re not going to use the rinsed noodles immediately, then you can toss them with a little bit of sesame oil to flavor them and also keep them from sticking).
You will add the cooked noodles to a quick stir-fry of whatever vegetables are taking up room in the crisper drawer. The other day I had bought a particularly beautiful savoy cabbage (napa might have been more authentic to the Asian experience, but the savoy just looked better), so I shredded this along with several carrots.
In a stir-fry pan over medium high heat add 1 tablespoon of oil (peanut or canola), 1 chopped yellow onion and 2 sliced garlic cloves. Saute until the onions began to soften but are not crispy, then add the cabbage and carrots or whatever vegetables you’re using.
Saute the vegetables until the soften a bit (about 5 minutes) and then add a big chunk of ginger–either grated or chopped fine–into the pan along with a big splash of vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth or water or wine). Once this liquid is reduced and absorbed by the vegetables add about 1/3 cup of soy sauce, the noodles, and a drizzle of sesame oil. Toss everything everything together until the noodles are warmed through and combined with the vegetables. Taste and then season with salt and pepper, more soy sauce or sesame oil if needed, and a drizzle of rice vinegar if you’d like some acid to balance out the other flavors
I make a whole package of noodles because I want enough for lunch and dinner. If you don’t have udon or soba noodles at your supermarket ask for them! Or you can use the instant ramen noodles (aka what you ate in your college dorm), just fling the flavor packet into the garbage.