home cooked dinners by the season

Weeknight-Fast Asian Noodle Stir-Fry

Weeknight-Fast Asian Noodle Stir-Fry

In my perfect world, all my weeknight dinners would be one-pan friendly and as few ingredients as possible. What’s not to love about having all the components of a complete dinner in one pan, as well as the least preparation possible. You don’t even need to delegate the clean up! I enjoy this challenge in developing a recipe. Each ingredient has to serve a purpose with flavor contribution and with speedy prep. If not, it gets the boot. There are two ingredients that make this recipe quick and flavorful — Spicy Chili Crisp sauce and the Yakisoba style stir-fry noodles.

My favorite pan for any stir-fry is a wok. It easily contains all of the ingredients and because of the large surface area the vegetables have more heat contact and cook more quickly. A large saute pan will also work well.

Spicy Chili Crisp Sauce
Spicy Chili Crisp sauce is a game-changing ingredient. I discovered it a year ago in a feature article in the Off Duty section of the Wall Street Journal. I was so intrigued by the description that I immediately ordered a jar online. The “Lao Gan Ma” brand I have pictured here was developed and launched by an enterprising Chinese widow Tao Huabi in 1997. Crunchy chilies, fermented soybeans, garlic, chili oil and yes – MSG are what make this sauce so extraordinary. It packs a ton of flavor and texture because of the crunchy chilies. Just to note, that even though the name says spicy, it’s actually not too spicy for those of us that cannot handle a lot of heat. Also noteworthy, the sauce is available in the sauce section of many Asian grocery stores.

Inside the jar of Spicy Chili Crisp sauce

Yakisoba Noodles
Let’s talk noodles because it can be kind of confusing which ones to use. Ideally you want to use fresh noodles. The Fortune brand Yakisoba noodles pictured here are available in many grocery stores. You will find them in the refrigerator section usually near the produce. Each package contains three individual packages of noodles and seasoning packets (which I discard). So for my recipe here I use the entire package. I have also pictured another size package available in many grocery stores that is 7.32 ounces – you would need two packages for my recipe if you use these. I wish that these noodles came in a one pound package without the seasoning packets, but they don’t, although you will find them this way in Asian grocery stores.

You might be asking… what are Yakisoba noodles? Soba noodles are a Japanese style noodle made from buckwheat and wheat flour which gives them a brownish gray color. Some recipes instruct you to briefly cook them first before adding to a stir-fry. I prefer to open the package and gently pull the noodles apart before adding them directly to the stir-fry. This way the noodles have more of a crispy texture than a softer one.

This brand of noodles is sold in a 17.76 ounce package containing 3 packages of noodles and seasoning packets (I do not use the seasoning packets).

This package size of yaki soba noodles is also available in many grocery stores. For my recipe you would use two packages.

The Vegetables
For the speediest version of my recipe, I recommend just four vegetables. Garlic and onion to provide a “base” flavor and thinly sliced green cabbage and mushrooms to provide texture and flavor. Conveniently, both cabbage and mushrooms are available already sliced in packages in many grocery stores.  Pictured below are other vegetables I would use instead of or in addition to the cabbage and mushrooms – bok choy, red bell pepper and zucchini are just a few ideas. Thinly slicing these vegetables will guarantee a speedier cook time. Many grocery stores carry bags of a variety of precut vegetables in their produce section – use these if you have a favorite combination.

Shredded Green Cabbage

Bok Choy

Red Bell Pepper, Snow Peas and Zucchini

Weeknight-Fast Asian Noodle Stir-Fry
 
Serves: Makes 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced chicken breast or thigh (optional; omit for vegetarian version) or 12 ounces firm or extra firm tofu (*see notes for prepping tofu)
  • Kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced or chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups (16 ounces) thinly sliced green cabbage (start with about 1-1/2 pounds cabbage and remove the core) or other thinly cut vegetables such as zucchini, red bell pepper, bok choy or snow pea pods
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 3 heaping cups)
  • 1 pound fresh yakisoba noodles (I typically use the Fortune brand that is an approximate 17 ounce package containing 3 packages of noodles or two of the 7.32 ounce packages - I do not use the seasoning packets)


  • Chili Crisp Stir-Fry Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons spicy chili crisp sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
Instructions
  1. For the Stir-Fry Sauce, whisk together spicy chili crisp sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar.
  2. Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat in a wok or large saute pan; add chicken; season with salt and pepper and cook until browned before turning, about 2 to 3 minutes. Move chicken around and cook until cooked and lightly browned about 2 minutes longer.
  3. Add onions and garlic and cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes, then add cabbage and mushrooms and cook and stir just until softened about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove noodles from package and gently pull apart; add to the vegetables and cook and stir to cook about 2 minutes.
  5. Evenly pour Chili Crisp Stir-Fry Sauce around vegetables and noodles and cook and stir to incorporate and heat through, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Notes
*To prep a 12-ounce block of tofu:
remove from package and slice into ¾ inch thick slices. Lay a few paper towels on the counter and place the tofu slices on top of them. Lay a few more paper towels over the slices and firmly but gently press down to remove excess water. Chop tofu and follow recipe directions substituting tofu for the chicken.

*I recommend not precooking the noodles. Instead, remove them from the package, gently pulling them apart to separate them and add them directly into the pan when called for in the recipe.

 

 


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