Melissa Clark’s Spicy Pan-Fried Noodles

by Carol Sacks on December 9, 2014

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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… read them below or add one }

Beth (OMG! Yummy) December 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm

I’m feeling the same way Carol! I need to walk away from something for a bit if I’m going to get in the spirit in time for night 1! Sheesh! This recipe is right up my alley and I will be falling back on this post one night soon – thanks for the great idea. And those cream puffs look divine!!!!!


Carol Sacks December 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Yes, let’s take our deep cleansing breaths together:) Warm Hanukkah wishes to you and your family this season and thank you so much for the kind words about my post!


Deb|EastofEdenCooking December 10, 2014 at 8:56 am

Your post is a breath of fresh air! As much as I always say I won’t overdo during the holidays, I fall into the frenzy anyway… We can’t continue with already full days and then add more. It’s time to relax and enjoy the season! The Spicy Pan Fried Noodles is a great recipe. Just what I love, simple prep but with bold, fresh flavor!


Carol Sacks December 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

Hi Deb, thank you so much. Encouraged to hear I’m not alone in bucking the “crazy” trend:) Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!


Winifred Lloyds Lender December 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

I love this recipe. It seems easy, flavorful and fun. The perfect combination for this pre-holiday craziness. I look forward to giving it a try soon.


Carol Sacks December 10, 2014 at 11:35 am

Thank you, Winifred! I hope you enjoy it and that your holiday season is only a little crazy:)


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