I’ve been leafing through a lot of cookery books this week, trying to find something to act as an antidote to the large-scale carnivorous feasting of Christmas. I wanted barely cooked vegetables, spice, and citrus. This Malaysian noodle dish hits the sweet spot.
The inspiration for this came from a variety of sources but mostly Mildred’s cookbook and Yotam Ottolenghi. You can add tofu, prawns or chicken. I wanted to limit the protein because I’ve eaten way too much of it over the past few weeks, so apart from the omelette strips, I’ve kept this entirely vegetable-based.
There are a couple of ingredients which may be difficult to source in your average supermarket, but they are available from good Asian shops or online. One is kecap manis, a thick, sweet Indonesian soy sauce. I think it’s fundamental to this dish, although I’ve seen suggestions that it can be replaced with hoisin sauce.
The other is sambal olek, a Malaysian chilli paste. It sometimes contains dried shrimp, so vegetarians may want to check before purchase or to substitute a different chilli paste.
As with most stir-fries, it’s very quick to make, but there is some prep time involved in chopping the vegetables. If you’re cooking for more than two people, it’s best to do it in batches, otherwise the veg will steam and release too much liquid. It should be a comparatively dry dish.
In other news, my New Year’s resolutions are to try to stop being scared of my new camera and, for reasons which I’m afraid may be glaringly obvious, to improve my photographic and styling skills.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tspn sambal olek
60ml kecap manis
2 tbsp light soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium-hot red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
100g Tenderstem broccoli, or fine green beans, chopped
1 pak choy, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and thinly shaved or cut into matchsticks
100g bean sprouts
1 pack cooked egg noodles (275-300g)
To garnish: your choice of crispy shallots (available from Asian supermarkets) or roasted peanuts; fresh coriander; lime or lemon wedges; thinly sliced red chilli; extra sambal olek
Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and pour in the beaten eggs, tipping the pan to cover the base evenly. Cook until lightly set, then remove from the pan, roll up into a fat cigar and slice into strips. Set aside until later.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sambal olek, kecap manis, light soy and lime juice. Keep to one side.
Heat a wok or large, deep frying pan and add the oil. Add the onion and cook for a minute until just beginning to brown at the edges, then add the broccoli or green beans and stir-fry gently for two or three minutes.
Add the pak choi, peppers and noodles. Increase the heat a bit, spread the noodles out so they toast a little and cook everything for one minute. Now it’s time for the carrots, beans sprouts and spring onions and the ginger, chilli and garlic. Cook for another minute, add the bean sprouts and spring onions and the sauce mixture and give it all a minute more.
Scoop into shallow servings bowls (or plates) and top with the omelette slices and your choice of garnishes.