Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Wok's Going On?

Non-Fried-Stir-Fried Noodles 
with Ground Meat & Vegetables


One thing that always gets me when I watch Hollywood movies and you have people eating steaming stir-fried noodles out of a pot is a.) how delicious they seem to be and b.) how the pot never seems to empty! They just go on and on eating!- and why wouldn't they?

Well, the reason that I wouldn't, and indeed don't, is because as yummy as they are, they ARE fried and I really try to be careful about my diet and reduce fat whenever possible. Sigh.

But- guess what? Actually, it IS possible and you CAN have a great tasting Asian noodle dish without that extra fat! I should know... I did it this evening as you can see- and the result looks pretty good, don't you think?


Armed with just a handful of ground beef and pork that was left-over from yesterday evening's stuffed zucchini, I was determined to not let it go to waste and decided to improvise this little meal.

Much in the same way that I used only the meats own fat content to fry the other ingredients in yesterdays dish, I was sure there would be more than enough for it to work in this dish too. And using a little trick which saved on extra washing-up and clutter, I also managed to give my dish a nice glaze and sheen without using a corn-starch glaze... yep! You can cut out a lot of those elements and still have a great meal! Read on!


These are the ingredients I used this evening, although you can of course use whichever vegetables you have at home or may prefer... the same goes for the spices, as this evening I cut out most of the spices as I have to be a bit careful at the moment- for me, this post is all about the cooking method.

I used a little ground meat, some fresh beans, pepper, Spring onion- and for lack of any other vegetables, a couple of Mu-Err dried mushrooms... together with a portion of Chinese egg noodles, some 5-Spice powder, black pepper and soy, I was ready and rearing to go!


Even though this was a very mildly spiced noodle dish, it hit the spot and still made for a satisfying, quick evening meal. Fresh ginger, a little chili, beansprouts and cilantro for sure would have made it better... but we can keep that in mind for another day! For now- let's see how I cooked these little beauties this evening...


The first thing I did was to boil some water, ready for the noodles in 5-6 minutes time, but primarily to pour over the dried mushrooms so that they would soak and reconstitute. Normally I would do this with warm water and wait 15-20 minutes... this way it just works faster.


Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces, as you would for any other stir-fry dish and cut the Spring onion up nice and small to sprinkle into the finished dish at the end.


Pop your ground meat into a hot, non-stick frying pan and let it brown from one side, and as soon as it is sizzling away and has given off most of its fat, add the other ingredients and get frying!

You will find that there is more than enough fat in the pan to easily coat all of the vegetables and to get them frying nicely. Keep your eye on the beans and once you notice that they turn a darker shade of green, which means that their own water-content has come up to temperature, your vegetables will be about half-done. At this point add your noodles and prepare to add some flavor.


As I had to keep things mild this evening, I simply added 5-Spice powder, a little black pepper and soy sauce, but you can feel free to season as hot and spicy as you wish... and you can be sure that I normally would have!

Next, add enough boiling water to cover the base of the pan and pop on the lid... you are used to me using this method as well by now! This lets you keep all of the flavors trapped inside your food and helps minimize the amount of liquid needed in order to get things cooked. Let everything steam with the lid on for 3-4 minutes- this should be enough time for the noodles to loosen up and for the vegetables to finish cooking.


After 3-4 minutes, loosen up the noodles with a wooden spoon and add the Spring onion and another splash of water. Pop the lid back on for another couple of minutes... and go grab your chopsticks- you're nearly done!


By the time you take off the lid again, the juices will all have been absorbed by the noodles and will have thickened slightly because of the starch in the noodles to a lovely glaze. All of the flavor that the meat has given into the broth has of course soaked into the noddles by now and you have a lovely, rich, full-bodied taste to enjoy, without any artificial additives or excessive spice... this is all good stuff!


So, basically this dish is more steamed than fried, but it neither looks, nor tastes that way! It looks and tastes fantastic- word!


Next time- more spice! This time was just the first of many returns to this dish- that much is a given!

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