This recipe has languished for way too long without being written about, mostly because I didn’t take any decent pictures of it and it seemed like the one picture I had didn’t do justice to the complete awesomeness of the finished product. But finally, I have convinced myself that my poor photography skills should not prevent you from sharing in what is undoubtedly one of the most flavorful dishes you will make this week/month.
I have always been a noodle fiend. I’m not picky about their origin – Italian pasta worked just as well as Japanese yakisoba. But lately, I’ve found myself leaning more towards the Southeast Asian preparations. Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian and Burmese variations on noodle dishes are more interesting somehow, and just appeal more to my Indian love of spices than the cleaner (maybe purer) flavors of Japanese and Chinese noodles. They seem just familiar enough to the palate while still venturing out into unexpected territory. And on this hit list, mee goreng has been a much-loved favorite. The combination of heat, crunch and color excite my imagination and transport me to the abundant street stalls you find all over Asia. Each has its own specialty, and stumbling onto them feels like you’re in on a special secret only known to loyal locals. And now, with your entire kitchen smelling like heaven, you can feel like you’re in on the secret too.
Mee Goreng (Spicy Malaysian Street Noodles)
Recipe slightly adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
2 tbsp peanut oil
½ onion, diced
8 oz firm tofu, cut into thin strips
4 oz French green beans, trimmed and cut in half
4 oz bok choy, cut into large chunks (both leaves and stalks)
12 oz fresh egg noodles (or dried spaghetti if you can’t find fresh noodles)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sambal oelek, or similar chili paste
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp water
Handful of bean sprouts
Large handful of shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tbsp crisp-fried shallots
Lemon wedges, to serve
Set a wok or a large skillet on high heat. Once hot, add the oil and then the onion, and cook for about 1 minute to soften a bit. Add the tofu and French beans and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to give the tofu a bit of color. Stir gently as you cook.
Next, add the boy choy. When it wilts, add the noodles and carefully spread them in the wok using tongs or large chopsticks. You want the noodles to get a lot of heat, almost to fry. Mix gently, cooking the noodles for about 2 minutes. Now add the spices, sambal oelek, soy sauce, water and bean sprouts and toss carefully. Cook for about a minute, or until the noodles are semisoft.
When ready, divide between serving bowls, top with lettuce, and sprinkle with crisp shallots. Serve with lemon wedges and extra sambal oelek.