When I was a kid my parents used to host dinner parties when they would cook Chinese food in front of their guests and produce a banquet of various dishes that would line the centre of the table. My brother and I would always be instructed to chop veggies and put them all into little bowls so everything would be instantly ready to throw into the wok when needed. We weren’t usually allowed to stay for dinner but we did get the leftovers the next day and that was the best bit!
I went to boarding school and was only ‘allowed out’ for very infrequent weekends but when I could I would steal a friend away for a night at home and when mum asked what we’d like to eat for dinner we’d always ask to have Chinese food. The hysterics that would ensue when trying to teach our friends how to eat with chopsticks was worth it alone!
Mum and Dad always recount a story of taking my brother and I out to a local Chinese restaurant when we were around maybe 6 and 4 years old and the manager coming out to congratulate two very english kids on their chopstick handling abilities!
So I guess eating and now cooking Chinese food has always been part of my life and I enjoy nothing better than seeing my kids digging into huge bowls of sweet and sour chicken or vegetable noodles or getting their hands dirty wrapping up peking duck pancakes. But when I’m cooking for my hubs and I in the evening, exhausted from a busy day with the kids, the dog, work etc etc, there’s nothing easier and more satisfying than rustling up a tasty, spicy bowl of stir fry noodles.
Depending on what veggies I have in the fridge and whether I’ve remember to take some protein out of the freezer that day we’ll have a variety of dishes from coconut broths, to spicy pad thai, chicken sweet & sour is always a winner, hoisin duck, black bean beef, spicy szechwan or we’ll go for something really saucy with a big bowl of steaming rice to share.
One of my absolute favourites is satay chicken. I make various different versions of this, with rice or noodles, but this particular one is excellent as a noodle dish because the sauce is just the right consistency to coat the noodles and makes it a delicious one pot mid week dish.
I found some of these Bare Naked Noodles at Holland & Barrett the other day and having seen them on Dragon’s Den (!) I wanted to give them a go, and I wasn’t disappointed. I mostly use rice noodles of one kind or another. Thai taste do a nice flat noodle or a vermicelli type great for soups. Clearspring have a lovely thick udon style of brown rice noodle that I love. And I always have the Amoy straight to wok noodles in the cupboard because they are so easy and delicious. I keep seeing new brands of rice noodles popping up all over the place and some of the supermarkets are now doing their own brand versions which is great. If you haven’t tried them then give them a go, it’s an easy switch to gluten free.
Satay Stir Fry
You make the satay sauce like this:
In your blender blitz on high for one minute until smooth:
- 2tbsp peanut butter (I use Whole Earth crunchy peanut butter with no added sugar)
- 2tbsp tamari soy sauce (I use Kikkoman’s)
- 1tbsp sesame oil
- 1tbsp rice vinegar
- 1inch peeled ginger
- 1tsp crushed chillies
- 1tsp crushed garlic
- 1tsp lemongrass (I use the easy lemongrass which is already pulped in a jar)
- the creamy thick coconut top of a tin of coconut milk
To make the stir fry do this:
- Chop up your protein if using (I used lean turkey breast) and dust with chinese 5 spice powder and cornflour
- Chop up all your veg (I used white onion, spring onion, fresh ginger, green beans, aubergine, red pepper, courgette, mushrooms and pak choy)
- Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a wok and start with the onions & ginger until they’re softened
- Add the protein and stir fry until browned for a minute or two
- Add the harder veggies first like the peppers and beans, stir fry for couple of mins
- Then add the softer veg like the aubergine, courgette and mushrooms, stir fry for couple of mins
- Add the satay sauce and stir through
- Add the remaining coconut milk
- Now add the noodles, straight out of the packet, and stir through for a minute
- Lastly add the pak choy, sprinkle with spring onions and serve
So get your chopsticks out and make yourself some Chinese food….it’s always gonna be better than a take away!