Lo mein-style noodles with greens

The alternative title for this post was “Personal Preferences Noodles.” My favorite grocery store in Worcester is the aptly described Asian Supermarket, is one of two in a very small chain of grocery stores, similar to H MART. As with any grocery store that imports a lot of food, sometimes the English translations are questionable and downright hilarious.

The instructions on my favorite noodles, which I used for this recipe, are as follows:

  1. Use the right amount of water to boil, and the surface into the boil water then use chopsticks for 5-7 minutes.
  2. To pick up the noodles, remove the water and you can add to personal preferences sauce, then you can eat the noodles.

Followed by the instructions are the “Features:”

  1. This product is made using a traditional method.
  2. The noodle is springy and unique taste.
  3. Boils the cooking liquor not to be muddy.

What is the “right” amount of water? What am I doing with my chopsticks?? Does Moses come to help remove the boiling water from the pot??? The only thing I follow is adding “personal preferences sauce,” which in this case is a very simple combination of sesame oil, soy sauce, and Shaoxing wine, plus lots of chili oil at the end.

This is what I always wish would appear when I order takeout lo mein – noodles with just a ton of greens. If you wanted to up the amount of greens the noodles could definitely handle it – a few weeks ago I put literally all of the greens from my week’s CSA into a version of this dish.

My full share this week was zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, lettuce, broccoli, rainbow tatsoi, basil, parsley, and scallions. I used the lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, grated carrots (from a previous week) and some scallions in a riff on buffalo cauliflower salad. This smashed cucumber salad is one of my favorite ways to enjoy summer and get out and lingering frustrations. Summer squash and herbs are perfect for this gratin with salsa verde.

Lo mein-style noodles with greens

Serves 4

Adapted from Serious Eats

  • 12 ounces chopped greens, such as tatsoi, bok choy, kale, or chard (about 2 large bunches)
  • 24 ounces of sliced cabbage (about 1/2 a small one)
  • 12 ounces Chinese wheat noodles (spaghetti will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus more if needed)
  • 1 14-ounce container firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for drizzling on the noodles
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry cooking sherry)
  • 2 ounces chopped scallions (from 3 giant CSA ones) – about 1 heaping cup
  • 1 tablespoon spoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • For serving: chopped basil, additional soy sauce, and chili oil

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, shaoxing wine.

Bring a large pot filled halfway with water to a boil. Boil the noodles according to the package directions (…or not!!!) until cooked. Drain, drizzle with sesame oil, and toss to coat.

In a large wok or pan heat 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat until it starts to smoke. Add in a big handful of the cabbage, and toss for 2-3 minutes, until wilted and starting to char, but not soft all the way through. Remove cabbage from the wok into a bowl, add another tablespoon of oil, and repeat with another large handful of cabbage. Do this with all the cabbage and greens.

Finally, cook the tofu in the same way – splitting into batches and allowing it to brown slightly. Add into the bowl with the greens.

After all the greens and tofu have been cooked, return the pan to the heat. If no residual oil remains, add a tiny bit. Add in the sliced scallions and cook for 1 minute to char, then add in the noodles and toss to reheat. Add the sesame oil/soy sauce/shaoxing wine mixture, garlic, white pepper, and all of the greens back to the pan and toss to coat and combine.

Finish with basil. Serve with additional soy sauce and chili oil.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

noodle salad

I’ve written before about my annoyance with seasonal creep. We always seem to move to the next season before the current one is over. I love flannel, apples, and warm beverages as much as any born and bred New Englander, but I can wait to embrace them. Even though the school year has started it is still technically summer, and I’m happy to keep eating cold and crunchy things while I can. This salad is a quick dressing, julienned vegetables, and noodles you don’t even need to cook on the stove. Great for the hottest summer days, or those transitional nights when we’re still holding on to later daylight.

My Potter Hill CSA share this week was 1 bunch salad turnips, 1 bunch radishes, spicy lettuce mix, pea shoots, parsley, arugula, 2 lbs potatoes, onions, and cherry tomatoes. Earlier this week I made a light summer lasagna with roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, onions and arugula. The potatoes and remaining arugula, along with the spicy lettuce and pea shoots went into potatoes anna and salad, which so delightfully flavorful for so few ingredients, but definitely let it cool a bit before cutting if you want clean slices. Before I decided on this noodle salad I contemplated making this roasted vegetable bowl using potatoes, radishes, turnips, carrots, onions, and the parsley. It would still be an excellent option if the weather cools off again next week.

Turmeric noodle salad with crunchy veg

Serves 4

Adapted from Molly Wizenberg and Heidi Swanson. All sorts of vegetables would be great here. As Molly did in her original recipe, you could add cucumber or cabbage, or some kind of protein. I love Heidi’s idea of adding turmeric to noodles so they become vibrantly yellow, but you could omit the turmeric if you don’t have any.

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (or, 1 garlic clove grated and 1 teaspoon sriracha)

Salad

  • 1 bunch of salad turnips (4 turnips made 2 cups of shredded)
  • 1 bunch radishes (7 small radishes made 1 cup shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1 cup shredded)
  • 2 scallions, sliced (mine were huge, so about 1 cup total)
  • 1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as cilantro or basil (Thai, regular, or lemon)
  • 8 ounces of rice noodles
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • Optional: 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes (raw or roasted)
  • Optional: minced jalapenos

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Shred or julienne turnips, radishes, and carrots. Slice scallions and chop herbs. Place noodles, turmeric, and salt in a large bowl and cover with boiling water (the noodles should be totally submerged). Stir to distribute the turmeric and insure the noodles don’t stick together. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then drain (definitely check after 5 minutes, because thinner noodles will be done at that point). Roughly chop the peanuts.

Toss drained noodles, shredded vegetables (including the tomatoes if you’re using them) , scallions, and dressing in a large bowl. Top with chopped herbs and peanuts. Serve with extra chili garlic sauce and jalapenos.

Last week I cooked…

Last week I cooked - Vegetal MattersTakeout-style sesame noodles with cucumber. I saw this posted on Tuesday, didn’t have a firm plan for dinner that night, and had all the ingredients for this in the pantry, plus cucumbers in the garden and it was the greatest. I’ve had trouble cooking rice noodles, but I watched these like a hawk and then drizzled them with sesame oil as instructed, and they didn’t turn out gummy or all stick together (hallelujah!). I always love a nutty, creamy, slightly sour sauce like this (which tastes strong on its own but mellows nicely with the noodles). After running around all day I knew I would need a more substantial meal, so I roasted some tofu a la Thug Kitchen (page 77 of the cookbook….that’s how often I use this method). Because of the tofu addition I served the noodles still warm and they were everything I hoped for.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Braised cabbage with fried potatoes, feta, and dill (from Vegetable Literacy). Very fancy feeling. The creamy fried potatoes were nicely balanced with wilted buttery cabbage, salty feta and herbal dill (which I don’t cook with enough).  This would have made an excellent course at an Irish mid-summer farm dinner. Unfortunately I made just this for dinner, and Madison’s serves 4 definitely meant as a side not a meal.

Corn bread salad. I have to admit this did not turn out, but it was entirely my fault as I let the cornbread go south (I thought toasting it up again would save it…I was wrong). Even if I had done everything according to recipe, it probably would not be my favorite dish. I already don’t like croutons in salad, and then getting them all soggy just makes everything that much worse. But I tried it, and I think most people without soggy crouton aversions would like this, so have at it.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Zucchini ricotta fritters. I’ve been on the hunt for the best zucchini fritters for a while now…and these still aren’t quite them. The ricotta made them super moist, but to the point of being hard to cook through. They stayed together really nicely, browned quickly, and then sat in the oven for a bit and still were super soft in the middle. Most zest and more salt next time, higher heat, and longer in the oven.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Potatoes with kale and a fried egg. This remains one of my absolute favorite breakfasts. This time I cooked the potatoes cubed in the cast iron, and added some diced onion halfway through cooking. The potatoes aren’t quite as decadent that way, but they do cook faster.

Last week I cooked - Vegetal Matters

Toast with ricotta, honey, and peaches. My favorite breakfast, lunch, and coffee spot in Worcester is also a bakery, and most of their breakfast menu is just their incredible breads toasted with various spreads (like country bread with homemade raspberry jam, and olive and herb bread with whipped feta and olive oil). After eating there Sunday I wanted nothing but toast for breakfast all week, and did different renditions of ricotta with jam or honey and fruit.