It’s 4.30 and Grant and I are having the conversation that happens most days while I’m logging off work and he’s driving home. The one where he asks what the menu is for dinner and what he needs to pick up from the supermarket.
This tells you a lot about us:
- That we’re the shop daily types
- That Grant usually does the groceries. Before you look at me in the way I know you’re going to and ask me why we don’t at least share this load or tell me how lucky I am that my husband does the groceries, let me just say this: he enjoys it, and I don’t. Plus he’s a (not so) secret smoker and won’t buy cigarettes while I’m around and I point blank refuse to enable the habit. Hence he does the groceries.
- That by Thursday the meal plan I constructed with such enthusiasm on Sunday afternoon and put on the fridge under a magnet so he didn’t need to ask me every day what was for dinner has palled somewhat.
This afternoon, when he asks what we need from the shops, I say, ‘pork mince and instant noodles.’
There’s silence for a second or so and then he says, ‘what did you say?’
I repeat myself.
‘Instant noodes? What sort?’
‘The sort that come in a little packet like a brick that you pour a chemical-laden flavour sachet onto and mix with boiling water when you can’t be faffed making anything else.’
He’s silent again – understandably so as I’m not an instant noodles sort of girl. Instant-ish noodles, yes – udon or soba noodles slopped with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and spring onions. Or these lunchtime noodles with ginger, garlic, chilli and a few store cupboard sauces. Noodles that are ten minutes in the making as opposed to two.
Finally he says, ‘what flavour do you want?’
‘It doesn’t matter – we won’t be using the flavour sachet, I just want the brick noodles.’
‘And pork mince?’
‘Right… I don’t know how I feel about that…’
He did, in fact, remain suspicious of it right until the first chopstick full went in his mouth – and now pimped up spicy noodles are a staple for the end of the week when the day job has been tough and the idea of something more healthy and virtuous involving vegetables or salad isn’t quite as appealing (although we do sometimes toss some Asian greens through if we have any lurking around in the fridge).
This recipe originally came from an Instagram post by RecipeTin Eats @recipe_tin. I’ve mucked around with it a tad because we like it saucier and spicier and it now goes something like this – but as with all recipes like this, I’d encourage you to muck around with it a bit too.
What you need
- 2 packets instant noodles – discard the seasoning sachets
- 300g pork or beef mince
- 2 tsp vegetable oil (or 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 of vegetable oil)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 1/2 onion sliced into half-moons
- 1 cup water (plus more if needed)
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin or cooking sake
- 1 heaped tsp sambal or chilli paste (optional) (Or you could always serve with sriracha instead…)
- a handful of bean sprouts if you want (I don’t – I’m not a fan of the bean sprout. Sure, it’s crunchy, but it’s also sort of pointless in my humble opinion.)
- Finely sliced spring onion and sesame seeds to garnish
What you do with it
Mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, mirin, and sambal. Taste it for balance and adjust as necessary before setting it to one side.
Heat the oil (or oils) in a medium frypan over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a minute or so until it begins to turn golden.
Add the mince and cook it until it’s light brown, breaking it up as you stir. Pour in the sauce and cook for another few minutes. The sugars in the hoisin should caramelise it.
Push the meat to one side to leave a space in the centre for the noodles, pour the water into that space and place the noodles in the water. Leave them for 45 seconds or so and turn. Leave for another 45 seconds and then begin detangling the noodles – I use tongs for this – and then toss them through the saucy meat. If you’re adding bean sprouts or greens, toss them in now.
Continue to stir and toss until the noodles are detangled and coated with the sauce and mixed through – this should be another minute or so (the noodles should only be in the pan for the cook time as per directions on the packet ie. 2 to 3 minutes).
Serve immediately, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds.
This also appears in What’s On Your Plate on my and anyways blog…