Saturday, August 13, 2016

Food Court Noodles

Is it really 3 years since I blogged last time? Really?

As far as I know most major shopping malls have a place set aside where all fast food vendors set up small kiosk and every one of the malls we have visited here in Canada and Eastern States have at least one of Chinese fast-food chains represented. Not one of them failed to have a warm or room temperature vegetarian chow mien noodles on their menu. My guess is that at least 8 out of 10 times this is what we would order.
Since it is such a favorite of mine and also for so many other people I think, I thought that there will be hundreds of recipes on the Net replicating the taste but after trying few none was what I was looking for, there was always something missing. So, I have decided to give it a try and do my own version, I have done that dozens of times before after all and done quite well.
Most important part in this great and simple meal is the noodle and I knew that I will have to find them but problem was that we don't have Oriental Supermarket or even a small Oriental food store so I am dependent on local supermarkets: Zehrs, Metro and Sobeys, all of which do have Oriental Food section. As we talked about this meal on our weekly grocery shopping trip, I found fresh (actually previously frozen) noodles in fresh pasta refrigerator at our Zehrs Supermarket. They were exactly what I was looking for! In other part of the supermarket you are likely to find Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Sriracha (all were already in my very well stocked pantry) which will make sauce. Other ingredients for this vegetarian version were in my refrigerator so it was off to the kitchen!
It is difficult to write a recipe where all ingredients are basically “to taste”; some like it hot, some like it mild and same goes with salty or sweet. Some like broccoli, some can’t stand it and same for onions that I just can’t imagine not to have in my pantry and use them! So, this will be more of a list of suggested ingredients followed by some important procedures or techniques then a real detailed recipe. 

Ingredients (for large bowl)

Fresh Chow Mein noodles (I use half a pack)
Carrot, grated or julienned
Broccoli, flowerets only and blanched (I use microwave for 1 minute)
Green onions, whole onion chopped
Asparagus (in season, blanched and cut into short pieces)
Green or Yellow Beans (in season, blanched and cut into short pieces)
Any vegie that you like… 

For Sauce

Sriracha, Sesame Oil, Hoisin Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Light Soy Sauce (Kikkoman),

Prepare your sauce in a bowl or as I do in a glass measuring cup. Since I cook by feel and never measure, except in baking, it is difficult to give exact volume of the finished sauce. Also, it depends on amount of noodles as well. I start with:
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp. Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
1 tsp. Sriracha
1 tsp. of Sesame Oil

Mix, taste and adjust. Set aside.

Very important part is to loosen and untangle the noodles before boiling. If you don’t, you very likely end up with a mess of noodles where all the knots will be undercooked; not a great texture to bite into.

Notice the tangle of noodle strands

All nice and loose...

To boil your noodles follow manufacturer’s suggestion. Mine called to boil for 1 minute and it is very close. I always have a bowl with cold water next to boiling pot to test for doneness of pasta and start tasting a bit past half the suggested time. Also, salt the water just like for regular pasta.
When done, drain, rinse under cold running water and then transfer to bowl with cold water. When they are cool, less than half a minute, transfer them to salad spinner lined with a tee towel. Spinning the cooked noodles in salad spinner will ensure that noodles will separate and be ready to absorb the sauce. Omitting this step will result in soggy, mushy noodles.

When noodles are dry mix in about half the sauce and taste. Add more sauce and mix again; hands are the very best tool to coat all the noodles with sauce.
Mix in the vegies and serve.

By adding stir fried chicken, beef or shrimp makes this into a real restaurant dish. I used just chicken thighs cut into strips and shrimps in this version.


Anonymous said...

Totally awesome those food court noodles.
I just ate them and the dish was so good.
Jerry can cook and I can eat.


Ana Cardoso said...

I'm going to try this recipe for the boys Jerry ... I bet they're going to love them.

Jerry said...

They taste very much like the ones we got at Sherway Garden. Let me know how it went.