Every South East Asian nation has their own version of stir fry noodles, and so does every Asian restaurant around the world, catering to the palates of their local patrons.
With this dish, you have a lot of creative license. Throw together what you have or carefully select your favourite ingredients. Whatever you decide, there are a few simple directions to make this dish great. I’ve tried to highlight this in my instructions below. To summarise, it's a lot of different flavours – garlic, ginger, onions, herbs. And no matter how hard you try, you’ll always cook more than you think you need. But that’s okay, this is great as leftovers too (or mid-night snacks).
If you have your favourite version, I would love to hear about it, feel free to leave a comment.
This recipe serves 2 very hungry people or probably 3 to 4 average serves. Obviously you can increase the portions to cater for more people.
150g sirloin beef steak, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 tspn minced fresh ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
light soy sauce (I’m not sure of quantities, so just keep the bottle out. Basically use soy sauce of your salt.)
2 to 3 tblspn oyster sauce (I used vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce)
150g mushrooms, sliced
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized ‘tree-tops’ (as my mum likes to call them)
2 sticks of celery – thick slices
200g fried tofu, halved or quartered. (Apologies, this isn’t very descriptive, but you can see from the picture what I mean. But we love our fried tofu, obviously this is optional)
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
1 tspn flour corn starch mixed with 1/8 cup of water (cold or at room temperature)
200g fresh rice noodles (available at most Asian supermarkets)
bunch of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Pepper and sesame oil to taste
Other ingredients you can include:
Chinese greens (bok choy, choy sum etc)
Carrots – thickly sliced julienne
... I can go on! Essentially lots of veges
Chicken, pork, fish (instead of beef)
1. Marinate the meat – It doesn’t matter what little time you have, some marinating time is better than no marinating. This particular instance I did this 3 days before and left it in the fridge, but that’s a bit extreme. I’d just so happened to defrost the meat to make pho. So I decided to marinate it and leave it in the fridge until I needed it later in the week. So in a small bowl, combine the sliced beef, 1 tspn minced ginger, 2 cloves of garlic – minced, soy sauce (enough to just coat the meat) and pepper. Stir and set aside.
2. Prepare veges – Once you have the meat marinating, spend all the time you like chopping up your vegetables. The idea is to get them bite sized. Not too big you’ll struggle to put the piece in your mouth, but not too small it falls apart and the noodles can’t carry it. When you’re chopping it, keep them separated. Though they’re similar in size, they still take different lengths of time to cook.
3. Other prep – chop up your onions, more garlic, more ginger. Again keep them separate. Slice up the tofu. Put rice noodles in a colander and rinse under tap hot water to loosen up and wash away the residual oil from the packet.
4. The essence of this bit is high heat and work quick. If you can’t handle it, drop the heat or move the pan away from the burner until you’re ready to move on. Heat a wok or fry pan on high (when you put your hand over it, it should feel like you right next to a heater – toasty!) then add oil, swirl to coat the pan. Add onions, stir around until slightly translucent, add ginger and veges. General rule, the harder the vegetable, the longer it takes to cook. So carrots, broccoli generally take longer than the leafy spinach and the soft mushrooms.In this case I just added the broccoli, stir around, then add celery, reduce the heat slightly, add mushrooms, then add a dash of water and cover for about 30 seconds. This cooks the greens. You can tell its good when it just turns from a dull colour to a shiny bright colour, as soon as that happens take it off the pan and set aside. This will still be a bit crunchy but we’ll bring it back later so don’t worry.
5. In the same pan, bring the pan’s temperature back to hot, add more oil to just coat the pan and add meat. Stir around to just cooked through. As the meat starts browning add starch/water mix. This will create a thick gravy. Especially with beef this won’t take long. Set aside (can be in the same vessel as the vegetables from step #4).
6. Again, in the same pan, bring the heat back to hot and add a bit more oil and the tofu with about 1/2 tspn of chopped ginger. The idea is to the bring the tofu to hot and slightly flavour with ginger. Again this shouldn’t take long. 1 minute or so. At the same time, the tofu will pick up the residual flavour of the meat left behind from the previous step. Set aside (can be in the same vessel as the vegetables and meat from step #4 & #5).
7. In medium to high heat, add noodles, any gravy from the vegetables from step #4 and meat in step #5. Then add a dash of soy sauce and oyster sauce to noodles and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium. Add all the veges, meat and tofu back into the same pan and stir to combine evenly. This step is to bring it all together, reheat the vegetables, meat and tofu you set aside and make sure you have all the flavours right. This is a point to taste and adjust the seasoning where you see/taste fit. If too salty, add sugar. If not salty enough, add soy sauce.
8. Serve hot with a light coating of sesame oil and pepper.