Monday, June 18, 2007

Using your noodles

I may have mentioned that a month or so ago, I picked up a couple of little cookbooks for seven bucks apiece at Coles over in St. Laurent Shopping Centre - one filled with tapas recipes, and one with Asian noodle recipes. So far, I've only made one recipe from each of them, but they've both been stars. The oven roasted spiced whole almonds were a hit at Sunday lunch, and the noodle dish I made for supper tonight is going into permanent rotation, it's that yummy. Also easy. Easy is important on days when one is feeling sleep-deprived.

Tonight was actually the second time I've made this dish. The first time I followed the directions pretty closely, and it was very yummy. This time I messed with it a bit and it was even better. It's called, amusingly, Ants Climbing a Tree, because it's basically rice noodles stir-fried with ground meat, and the bits of meat cling to the noodles like ants on a tree branch. The original recipe calls for ground pork, which I used the first time and enjoyed, but it's quite fatty (even the "lean" stuff from the grocery store) and made the overall dish greasy, when combined with the sesame oil used in the marinade and for stir frying the garlic. So tonight I substituted ground turkey, and it worked very well indeed. The meat is marinated anyway, so it's flavourful no matter what.

Also, the only vegetable in the original dish is some sliced green onion, and to me that's just not enough for dinner, but I didn't want to cook a separate veggie, so I threw in some sliced celery and peeled broccoli stem, sliced into coins. I also omitted the minced garlic and red chili pepper, and instead added some sweet chili sauce with garlic in it to the marinade. FInally, I felt that the oil added to the marinade was sufficient, so I didn't add any more to the non stick pan before cooking the meat.

The result was so, so tasty and quite a bit healthier than the original as well. It comes together fast if you do it in the right order - soak noodles, mix marinade, combine with meat, chop veggies, start cooking. I can do it in 30 minutes - take that, Rachael Ray.

This made two dinner-sized portions for us - I used half a package of rice noodles, so there was more meat than noodle. A whole package would serve 4 easily, with a lower meat-to-noodle ratio (which is fine).

Alison's Ants Climbing A Noodle Tree

1 250-gram package rice noodles (the fettuccine width)
half a package extra-lean ground turkey
1 tbsp cornstarch
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
1.5 tsp brown sugar
1.5 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (Thai style)
3 green onions, chopped (green parts only)
1 stalk celery, sliced thin on the diagonal
the stems from 2 heads broccoli, peeled of their tough skin and sliced into coins

Begin by soaking the rice noodles in enough very hot water to cover. Set aside.
In a metal mixing bowl, whisk together cornstarch, soy, mirin, sugar, oil and chili sauce. Add the turkey and use your hands to combine, without squeezing the meat. Just toss it through the marinade lightly until well combined. Set aside.

Prepare your green veggies and set them aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey mixture and stir-fry until well cooked on the outside and nearly cooked through, them add vegetables and toss to combine. Continue stir-frying until the turkey is cooked through. Drain the noodles and add them to the pan with a little water still clinging to them. Toss well to combine and stir-fry until the noodles soften up and absorb some of the sauce. If mixture appears too dry, add a tablespoon of water. Serve immediately in big bowls with chopsticks.


Lara said...

do you think you could omit the soya sauce without losing a lot of taste to the dish? (I cant have soy :(
Because this sounds super yummy!

Alison said...

Lara, if you do a Google search for "soy sauce substitute" you'll find a bunch of recipes involving molasses and beef broth and various vinegars that look simple to make. If you made up a batch of that and used it I think it would be great. You need the liquid component of some kind to make it a bit saucy, so I wouldn't just leave it out.

And it WAS yummy. :)

Lara said...

ooh. good tip. I'll have to do that. Most of the substitutes I'd found before were just other things that contained soy. :P