Did you know it’s considered bad luck to cut noodles before serving them? Noodles are a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture, and serving your guests short noodles might not bode well for your friendship. But, did you also know it’s a pain in the butt to stir-fry really long noodles? They stay in a tightly woven mass at the bottom of the wok, keeping all the other ingredients around the periphery. The process feels less like stir-frying, and more like a cat batting around a ball of yarn. Unless you know the secret.
The first and obvious answer is to cut them. That’s not the secret; but, it is a solution to the noodle ball. Cutting noodles into 6- to 8-inch lengths will make them easier to stir-fry. Grace Young knows many Chinese cooks who insist on cutting noodles, and they are all alive and well.
Here’s the secret: Grace suggests using a pair of wooden (plastic will melt) chopsticks in one hand, a metal spatula in the other, and toss the noodles as you would a salad to loosen the mass and incorporate the other ingredients. Tongs also work beautifully, for those of us who are too white to deftly maneuver a pair of chopsticks. This tip works like a charm, and you won’t tempt fate, which is always a good thing (knock on wood).
For more tips and troubleshooting stir-fried noodles, click and scroll here.
Adapted from Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking
Any vegetable or combination of vegetables can replace the pork and bok choy. Just be sure to keep the overall amounts the same. A good rule of thumb is: 4 cups noodles and 2 cups meat and/or vegetables total — more than that, and you’ll be steaming instead of stir-frying.
- 4 oz. ground pork or chicken
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 4 Tbs. sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce
- 4 Tbs. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. sugar, optional
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. sambal oelek, optional
- 1 lb. fresh Shanghai-style thick noodles or Chinese egg noodles
- 1 Tbs. peanut or grapeseed oil
- 2 tsp. minced ginger
- 2 heads baby bok choy, coarsely chopped
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Combine pork and marinade in small bowl; set aside.
In small bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients; set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions; rinse and drain well.
Heat wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in peanut oil. Carefully add pork, spreading it evenly into a single layer. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute; stir-fry 1 minute, until meat is browned and cooked through.
Push pork up sides of wok and add ginger to the wok’s well; stir-fry until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add bok choy; stir-fry until leaves turn bright green. Add noodles and toss together. Swirl in sauce around the sides of the wok; stir-fry until greens are tender-crisp and sauce thickens. Sprinkle in scallions and serve.