Recipe from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook by Kim O’Donnel (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2010)Hang up the phone, put down the carry-out menu, and make these seriously chops-licking noodles instead. You'll probably have to duke it out over who gets lunch leftovers (if there are any left in the wok). By no means is this dish authentically Chinese or Japanese, but a tribute to both cuisines, incorporating ingredients and flavor combinations that have become favorites in my own kitchen. This is a one-pot meal, with ample slurping ops for four to five servings, but you can easily halve the amounts for two-plus eaters.
Kitchen notes: The recipe calls for udon noodles, thick wheat-flour Japanese noodles that come in 8-, 9-, and 12-ounce packages and are available in most conventional supermarkets and Asian groceries. Weigh or measure out the noodles before cooking. While you're out shopping, look for Shaoxing rice wine, from China. Gluten-free option: 100 percent buckwheat noodles.
HERE'S WHAT YOU DO:
- 16 to 18 ounces udon noodles
- 2/3 cup soy sauce
- 8 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine, or dry sherry, sake, or vermouth
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 (2 x 1-inch) hunk fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 fresh chile pepper of choice, seeded and minced (optional)
- A total of approximately 10 cups of quick-cooking veg; my suggestions follow:
- 2 to 3 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
- 2 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, seeded and julienned
- 6 bunches (about 6 cups) baby bok choy, thoroughly rinsed and sliced into 1-inch pieces (Larger bok choy or another kind of choy is perfectly fine; the baby choy yields the mildest and most tender results, in my opinion.)
- Other veg options: chopped green beans, snow peas, shredded cabbage, small broccoli florets, thinly sliced mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon gomasio
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Optional garnishes: 3 chopped scallions and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Cook the noodles in at least 8 cups of boiling water. The noodles will be ready in 8 to 9 minutes. Don't overcook; they will get really mushy and gross. Drain and rinse under running cold water. Set aside.
Measure the soy sauce and set aside 2 tablespoons. In a small bowl, combine remaining soy sauce, rice wine, and hoisin sauce. Stir until the hoisin is dissolved.
In a wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Cook the ginger, garlic, and chile pepper (if using), stirring with a wooden spoon to keep from sticking, about 30 seconds.
Add the carrots and pepper (which take a bit longer to cook than the bok choy), and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the bok choy, and with tongs, toss to mix with the other vegetables; it will shrink quickly and soften. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Season the vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the gomasio. Transfer to a medium-size bowl.
Pour the soy sauce mixture into the wok and heat over medium heat. It will quickly come to a lively simmer. Add the drained noodles, and with tongs, coat with the sauce. Gently stir the mixture until the noodles are hot, at least 2 minutes.
Return the vegetables to the wok and stir everything together until well combined. Drizzle with sesame oil, and if using, top off with your desired garnishes.
Serve immediately while hot.
Makes 4 to 5 servings