November 16, 2011


Can I share with you a little secret?  We've been in our apartment for almost 3 months now and we still don't have a kitchen/dining table.  This is not something I'm proud of.  It certainly bothers D.  But the thing is, a table is a tricky situation for our little kitchen.  It needs to be small, tiny even.  This apartment is full of awkward spaces (for example - there's no mirror above the bathroom sink) and what little room is left in the kitchen certainly falls into that category.  If the table isn't just right it'll block the back door, or else limit how far we can open the refrigerator door.

So for now we have a makeshift situation. Leaning slightly hunched over from the couch, we eat off a sort of coffee table. A table which is actually more of a side table and magazine rack.  Sometimes we move the  plates to our laps, balanced precariously, while simultaneously fending off the cat's endless attempts at food theft.  Sometimes the TV is on.  Sometimes situations just aren't ideal.

Especially when the cat manages to swipe a mouthful of food off your plate.

But these noodles are street-style food.  Whipped up real quick in a hot wok and meant to be eaten just as quickly without any fuss.  Seriously, heap it onto your plate, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the whole thing and get to eating.  The pleasant chew of the noodles, the earthy/tangy/just-this-side-of-spicy sauce coating every bite, silky pieces of bok choy and tofu mingling with al dente green beans.  Magic I tell you.

Mee Goreng (Malaysian Fried Noodles)
Adapted from Ottolenghi's "Plenty"

Slight changes I made to better suit my pantry supplies: I used dried noodles instead of fresh.  I also believe they were udon noodles.  They worked, but I think I would have preferred the thinner egg noodles.  I didn't have thick soy sauce, so I just subbed in half regular soy sauce and half honey.  D and I both agreed that this was best eaten right away; the leftovers were fine, but the flavors were much more magical right out of the wok.

2 servings (maybe 3)

2 tablespoons peanut oil
½ onion, peeled and diced
8 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/4" thick strips
4 oz green beans, trimmed and cut in half on a deep angle
6 oz bok choy, leaves and stems, cut into large chunks
12 oz fresh egg noodles (or 6 oz dry noodles, cooked as on package, drained and cooled)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sambal olek, plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon cold water
1 handful of bean sprouts
1 - 2 tablespoon french fried onions
Lemon wedges, to serve

Put a wok (or large pan) over high heat. Once hot, add the oil, then the onion and cook to soften it for a minute. Add the tofu and green beans, and cook to give the tofu a bit of color - two to three minutes. Stir gently as you cook, so as not to break the tofu.

Add the bok choy and, when it wilts, the noodles. Spread them in the wok using tongs or chopsticks - you want them to get a lot of heat, almost to fry. Mix gently, cooking the noodles for about two minutes. Now add the spices, sambal olek, soy sauce, bean sprouts and a tablespoon of cold water, and toss carefully. Cook for about a minute, or until the noodles are semi-soft.

When ready to serve, transfer the noodles into bowls and top with the french fried onions. On the side, serve lemon wedges and a small bowl of extra sambal.

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