7½ Food Lessons I Learnt in 2012

On the evening of December the thirty-first, two thousand & twelve, I was busy being a hermit and cooking dinner. Unlike the previous year, we’d decided to stay away from the hours-long metro lines & traffic jams that awaited all who ventured out that evening to catch the fireworks at the Burj Khalifa. I’ve never […]

A Hankering for Noodles

ingredients for fried noodles
I am a lazy cook. No other way to say it. I have no patience for slowly stirred sauces, carefully watched pots, or preparations that need fifteen different components plated at the last minute. If it all sits together in a bowl and I can eat it with one utensil, then so much the better.

I am also a stubborn cook. Stir fries have often tantalised me, and every time I try my hand at one I learn a little more, make it a little better. I’m at the stage now where I can’t quite bang out a hundred plates of noodles that all look and taste the same, but the outcome is generally tasty, and even when my own pantry conspires to throw me a curveball, I can generally deal with it.

Today’s conundrum: the urge to eat fried noodles, with all the correct ingredients I like in fried noodles — except for noodles themselves. The closest thing I had was a packet of linguine — not the regular kind, which is a fine substitute for stir fries (spaghetti is too), but a dark green basil flavoured one.

Nevertheless, I soldiered on, and above is almost everything that went into it besides salt, pepper, oil and a last minute squirt of Sriracha, i.e.: an egg (fried as an omelet, cooled, cut into strips), noodles, celery, carrot, baby corn, garlic, asparagus, mushrooms — and mixed for the sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and sesame oil.

plate of chinese fried noodles made with linguine
Put them all together and you get this. It didn’t taste half bad, though after a while the taste of basil completely disappeared, and that was a bit disappointing. Guess the noodles would benefit from a more delicate saucing than being tossed around in soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil until good old Maillard reactions do their magic.

close up of chinese fried noodles made with linguine


Pad Kapraw Thai Rice Noodles

Photo of Pad Kapraw Thai Rice Noodles on a wide-rimmed white presentation plate with red chopsticks

Lunch today was some Pad Kapraw Thai Rice Noodles. The noodles came with a flavour packet which I used. Pad Kapraw is apparently a basil-flavoured sauce, but the overriding flavour when the powder hit the pan was of liquorice. Luckily the finished dish had a very mild flavour, sweet and hot; not having had much Thai food I’m not sure how sweet Thai basil really is, so I’m assuming the liquorice-like flavour is a bit like it.

The rest of the dish contains a stir-fry of vegetables: bean sprouts, mushrooms, several coloured peppers and carrot, all sliced thin so they’d cook quickly. The rice noodles have to be handled carefully, cooked al dente (about 4 minutes) and rinsed thoroughly in cold water. They seem insubstantial compared to wheat noodles, but don’t be fooled: as time goes by they soak up water and become plumper. Like rice itself, a little goes a long way.

Close-up photo of Pad Kapraw Thai Rice Noodles on a wide-rimmed white presentation plate with red chopsticks