Lunchtime Noodles

 

Strictly speaking, these aren’t, of course, only for lunchtime; you can have them whenever you want. In fact, they’re particularly effective after a heavy night – or so I’ve been told. In fact, the recipe they’re based on is Nigella’s Drunken Noodles – not that I’m assuming that La Lawson would indulge in too many nights where she needs an appropriate cure but…now, I’m digging that hole deeper!

I like these because they’re quick and easy to whip up from ingredients that you probably have lying around from other meals, and leftovers that could be in the fridge. And, let’s face it when you’re on holiday you probably have better things to be doing with your time than faffing about with cooking a midday meal.

This recipe feeds 2 but will stretch to more if you throw in some veggies and cold meat. We had some leftover chicken from the roast chook the other night, plus snow peas and capsicum (peppers) that we’d used last night in a noodle soup. It, therefore, made a substantial lunch for 3. There’s no coriander in the version I cooked today because my 20-year-old daughter doesn’t eat coriander – that’s a subject for a whole other story – and, to be honest, with the snow peas it had plenty of green without it.

Speaking of which, Ms 20 – who doesn’t cook – has declared that she’ll be making this dish on those times when we’re away and she has to fend for herself. It can, therefore, adapt to a uni student’s attention to detail (and budget) and be made, in need, with garlic and ginger from a squeezy tube or a jar, and a squirt of lime from a bottle in the fridge.

Which reminds me – this is more of an idea than a recipe, so don’t get too hung up on the quantities and feel free to adjust the spicing to your taste.

What you need…

  • About 1/2 a packet (around 150g) dried rice noodles – like the ones you use in pad thai.
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
  • a chunk of ginger – peeled and grated (about 1/2 a thumb size)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 lime – zested and juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce (I like ordinary soy sauce, but hubby likes the colour you get from the dark soy sauce)
  • a wok or frypan and a burner

What you do with it…

  • Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 8 minutes and then immediately refresh in cold water and allow to drain in a colander.
  • While the noodles are soaking:
  1. Grate your ginger, garlic and lime zest and set aside
  2. If you’re adding extra meat or veggies toss them about in a frypan and some oil and set aside.
  3. Have on standby something to toss your noodles with – a spoon in each hand works.
  4. Mix the oyster sauce and water together and set aside.
  • When your noodles are done, you can start cooking. Heat the oils in your wok or pan and add the ginger, garlic and lime zest. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes and stir well.
  • Tip in the drained rice noodles and mix everything together – you’ll need to work quite quickly.
  • Add the watery oyster sauce, soy sauce and about 1/2 of the lime juice (I use a whole lime because I really like the zesty hit of the lime).
  • If you’re using additional veggies and meat, add this now. If not, serve immediately.
  • Have some extra soy sauce close to hand – and additional chilli flakes or sriracha for people (like me) who want even more chilli.

 

 

 

Bun Cha – Vietnamese Pork Salad

Now that Spring is upon us we’re looking for something lighter and cooler. Vietnamese-style noodle salads like this one deliver on both counts – yet are full of flavour and won’t weigh you down. We like this for lunch on a weekend or a light dinner when we’ve over-indulged a tad.

This noodle salad uses little pork patties – which you can quickly and easily put together in the morning and set aside in the fridge until you’re ready to cook. But you can also use shredded poached or barbecued chicken – it’s a great use of leftovers – or lemongrass-marinated beef. If you’re making the latter, slice about 400g beef into strips and marinade for 30mins in a paste made of 1 lemongrass stalk, 3 cloves garlic smashed or chopped finely, a teaspoon each of fish sauce and caster sugar.

Before I get into the recipe proper, a note about convenience. Obviously fresh is best – and that goes for herbs, spices, etc, but if you’re on the road, camping out or in a van, you’re probably not going to carry the sort of kit you have at home. That’s where those squeezy tubes of ginger, garlic and lemongrass that you find in the veggie section of the supermarket can be lifesavers. I’ll give you the instructions for the fresh stuff, but feel free to take shortcuts too. Just saying.

Vietnamese Salad Dressing

What you need

  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped*

What you do with it

  • Put the water, fish sauce, sugar and vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn it down and let it simmer for a couple of minutes to dissolve the sugar.
  • Stir through the lime juice, garlic and chilli.

*A note on the chilli – we like things spicy so tend to leave some seeds in or include all or half of a small Thai style chilli as well. Your call.

The Pork Patties

What you need

  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 garlic clove – crushed, finely diced
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/4 cup green shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

What you do with it

Mix it all together…preferably with your hands. I like to also pick up small amounts and slam it back into the side of the bowl. I have no idea what it does but it does help the mix become quite pliable and sticky.

With wet hands roll into 16 small balls and gently pat to flatten.

Cook in a pan over your burner or on a barbecue. They should take about 3 minutes each side.

The Herb Noodle Salad

What you need

200g rice vermicelli noodles

1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

1 bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked

1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts

We also use basil or Thai basil or Vietnamese mint – depending on what’s available – and assorted salad leaves. I don’t like bean sprouts but apparently, everyone else does so while they won’t appear in my salad, they might show up in yours.

What you do with it

Place the vermicelli in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and stand for 2 minutes or until tender. Drain well.

Arrange all your leaves onto a platter with the noodles, top with the patties and pass around the dressing.