Melissa Clark’s Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles

by Carol Sacks on December 9, 2014

Post image for Melissa Clark’s Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles

I’m out of sorts this holiday season. I feel pushed to be efficient and cross to-dos off of my list, yet I’d much rather take a long walk in the hills with Matthew and Jack, or beeline it for the kitchen for a cherished mother-daughter cooking project — Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling, anyone?

So, I’m compromising. I’m getting things done at my own pace, I’m spending as much time in the kitchen with my Bug as I can and I’m mostly cooking comforting, easy-to-prepare dishes to take the edge off.

Take Melissa Clark’s Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles, for example. This dish is the perfect weeknight dinner — pantry staples augmented by the kind of fresh vegetables you likely already have on hand (scallions, spinach). And, it lends itself to improvisation.

Pick your favorite seasonal vegetable — broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower and peppers are a sight to behold at the Farmers Market — or take two steps to the freezer for frozen edamame. Seared, almost caramelized sliced mushrooms, make a tasty addition, too.

If you opt for a member of the broccoli family, fire up a pot of salted, boiling water and prep your ice bath. You want those florets to be tender-crunchy before you toss them into your saute pan. A few minutes in the rollicking water does the trick. Let them sit in the icy water until you’re ready to use them. Drain them first, of course, before adding them to the saute pan.

Melissa scrambles a few eggs into the mixture for creamy richness. The eggs are a definite keeper; next time, I’m also adding seared slices of extra-firm tofu for additional protein.

The sauce is straightforward and savory — soy sauce, rice wine (or sherry vinegar), ginger and sesame oil. You can dial the heat way up or down, depending on how much Sriracha you use. Delicate flower that I am, I use a fraction of what the recipe calls for. Matthew and The Bug squirt hot sauce into their bowls until their eyes water.

Off the heat before serving, squeeze some fresh lime juice into the pan and give the noodles a vigorous toss. Sprinkle chopped salty peanuts and some delicate, fresh cilantro leaves on top of each plate before you dig in.

Yes, it’s a satisfying meal, but since it’s a cinch to make and clean up, I have plenty of energy to sit in front of my trusty laptop and hit buy on all those gifts on my list.

Here again is the link to Melissa’s recipe in The New York Times. Follow it to the letter or improvise. Either way, I know this will become one of your winter go-to dishes.

I’m going to sign off here for a bit, so here’s wishing you and yours a healthy and happy holiday!

6 comments

November at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

November 24, 2014
Thumbnail image for November at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

The lead-up to Thanksgiving makes me giddy. Whether our dining room is full or it’s just we three around the table, I look forward to planning the menu and making the meal. Not surprisingly, the highlight of this annual ritual are my visits to the Farmers Market. November is a feast for the eyes. Take [...]

Read the full article →

Cooking from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Grilled Cheese with Figgy Marmalade and a Giveaway

November 10, 2014
Thumbnail image for Cooking from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Grilled Cheese with Figgy Marmalade and a Giveaway

I’m so excited for my friend Cathy Barrow, who I’ve written about frequently over the years (most recently here). Her new book, Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, a comprehensive guide for year-round food preservation, is here. It’s content-rich and a feast for the eyes, full of lush, gorgeous photographs. Cathy starts us out easy — canning [...]

Read the full article →

Maple Pumpkin Biscuits

November 3, 2014
Thumbnail image for Maple Pumpkin Biscuits

Our little city is overflowing with all manner of squash right now — edible, decorative and colorful. I may cook with only a few types, but I love seeing cheery cucurbita whether it’s at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market or other stops in town. This lavish bounty might explain why I became preoccupied with the [...]

Read the full article →

Triple-Chocolate Pudding

October 20, 2014
Thumbnail image for Triple-Chocolate Pudding

As a child, few desserts made me as giddy as chocolate pudding. Piercing the skin with the tip of my spoon, gliding through the creamy custard below and scraping every last bit from the bottom of the pyrex ramekin remains an enduring, comforting memory of my childhood. Despite this near obsession, I rarely make pudding. [...]

Read the full article →

On Baking Apple Pie

October 13, 2014
Thumbnail image for On Baking Apple Pie

We moved back into our kitchen last week and I love it. I had a working stove and fridge for a few weeks, but without cabinets and drawers, the room was largely a shell with its contents stashed in our pantry and other hiding places. With the kitchen largely out of commission through the summer, [...]

Read the full article →

Early-Fall at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

October 5, 2014
Thumbnail image for Early-Fall at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market

There may be summer holdovers — heirloom tomatoes, summer squash and berries — but fall produce now is elbowing its way into the farm stands at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market. Here’s a look at our early-fall bounty.  

Read the full article →

Making Berry Pavlova

September 22, 2014
Thumbnail image for Making Berry Pavlova

I may have arrived fashionably late to the pavlova party, but I’m turning into the guest who wouldn’t leave! I was bowled over by the elegant dessert when we were on vacation in France a few months ago. We were the guests at a perfect Sunday supper hosted by Pascale Bonnard, a college friend of [...]

Read the full article →

Lemony Farro with Tomatoes, Corn, Edamame and Cannellini Beans

September 15, 2014
Thumbnail image for Lemony Farro with Tomatoes, Corn, Edamame and Cannellini Beans

We’re having a heat wave, which means dinners these days are mostly of the cold-supper variety: substantial salads augmented by creamy wedges of Fromager d’affinois cheese, a buttery, double-cream brie-like cheese, or cups of ice-cold, garlicky gazpacho. This Chicken Salad with Shelling Beans and Roasted Tomatoes from Los Angeles-based chef Jessica Koslow, is a new [...]

Read the full article →

August in Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen: The Bug and I Help Prepare a Mexican Feast

August 19, 2014
Thumbnail image for August in Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen: The Bug and I Help Prepare a Mexican Feast

When we were in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, The Bug and I spent an afternoon in Cathy Barrow’s (AKA Mrs. Wheelbarrow) sunny kitchen, helping her prepare a Mexican feast. Well, we didn’t just help prepare it. We came back in the evening with Matthew and my parents, and devoured it. A succulent, savory [...]

Read the full article →