I cooked a couple of meals in the wok really quickly recently, and reflected on how the results can be so satisfying with some handy tips that I’ve learned along the way.
Cooking in a wok was absolutely my go-to standard when I was a university student living at Burton and Garran Halls. After a long day of lectures and tutes, and hanging out with friends at the library and in the refectory, the hunger pangs would strike and the panicked question would arise…what to eat? Of course it would have to be quick!
I’d throw anything I had in the fridge together and toss it in a wok with oyster sauce. It all got a bit tedious after a while, and every stir fry tasted………the same. Thank goodness for sweet Munif who cooked carefully at a stove near mine, creating delicious goat curries and chicken stews which he would kindly share with those around him. What a saviour!
I used to think that I could only make a good noodle stir fry if I’d made a special trip to the Asian grocery store and got my fresh bok choy, bean sprouts, bean curd and Chinese sausage ( lap cheong ).
Let’s face it though Izzy: we Aussies are pretty darn good at fusing cuisines. Now some of the ‘aunties’ in Malaysia might raise an eye brow, but really, there’s no reason you can’t make a yummy stir friend noodle dish without all of these Asian staples.
The one I made on Saturday is a good case in point. We felt like noodles. I had a stock of dried yellow noodles in the cupboard. But what fresh ingredients did I have in the fridge? Well, I had half a cold chicken, a nice green courgette, some snow peas, celery stalks and a big bunch of flat leaf parsley. Viola! Those were certainly good enough ingredients to conjure up a noodle dish.
Well you know that I might run out of fresh air, but I am never short of a good supply of ginger, onions and garlic. A good starting point for all tasty meals, I say.
So looks easy enough in the picture……………what are the steps again?
Ingredients I had in my fridge:
- 1 courgette/zuchinni, sliced thick
- a handful of sugar peas
- half a bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- a piece of cooked chicken, shredded
- onions, ginger and garlic
- oyster sauce, low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil
Other things you could use for a stir fry, which might not at first look obvious: some left over prawns, a few rashers of bacon, a handful of pork or chicken mince, frozen peas or edamame, tomatoes, eggs, chickpeas, and fresh corn. Not all together of course! And if you don’t have Asian noodles, cook up some pasta and drain: works just as well!
So, some clear steps to putting it together:
- cook your dried noodles in boiling water, and when al dente, drain and keep aside in some cool water.
- if you are using some meat or prawns or bacon, cut into bite sized pieces, and then toss in a hot, oiled wok with chopped ginger and garlic.
- When it is fragrant and golden in colour, lift out of the wok and set aside.
- heat the wok again, throw in some sliced onions if you like, and then the harder vegetables: carrots, frozen peas, etc and then the less hard veggies like zucchini, tomato and corn.
- At this point, add the drained and cooled noodles, and some soy and/or oyster sauce ( about a table spoon each).
- Stir everything well to coat with the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- any leafy ingredient like the flat leaf parsley, some baby spinach or thin slices of cabbage should go in towards the end.
- At the last minute, add the cooked meat mix and and serve
- if you have sesame oil, a few drops makes for a lovely flavour stirred in at the end.
These simple steps will surely save you from what a stir fry can often become: a soggy soy flavoured mess.
This might all seem a bit obvious darling, so forgive me if I am being boring. It certainly was news to me when I started cooking, so I thought I’d just lay it all out here clearly anyway! Cheers, lovely girl.