One of my favorite meals is a good stir-fry that uses lots of vegetables as well as any meat or seafood I happen to have on hand. Our teenaged kids? Uh, not so much. I’m hoping with lots of exposure they’ll eventually cave and like it. What do you think – possible?
Regardless, it’s a great way to use up various vegetables in the fridge and I like to keep it pretty simple with a sauce of basic ingredients like soy sauce, honey, broth, and of course a bit of Sriracha to spice it up. I’ve often put this meal on our menus over the years, but realized I’ve never posted my basic recipe. I think it’s about time!
And the noodle “pillows?” Well, while rice is the typical accompaniment to stir-fry, I like to mix it up and serve it sometimes with these easy, baked noodle circles (or nests, clumps…whatever you want to call them). I first read about these in Sunset magazine and they called them pillows, so I do, too. They basically are a version of pan-fried noodles, but easier because they’re just baked. They add a nice crunch and can be made with either wheat or thin rice noodles.
Making the pillows is as easy as cooking the noodles, mixing them with a bit of sesame oil and then plopping them into circles on a lined baking sheet. When they’re done, the outsides will be lightly browned and they will hold together for serving.
To serve, simply use a spatula to transfer one of the pillows to a plate, top with the stir-fry and garnish with a few sesame seeds. The sauce from the stir-fry coats the noodles after it’s added, softening some while leaving a bit of crunch towards the edges. And those Chinese restaurants who charge extra for pan-fried noodles? Well, now you can have them at home, too – at no extra charge. Really, I think my mouth is watering…
Vegetable & Shrimp (Chicken, Pork, or Beef) Stir-Fry on Baked Noodle Pillows
- 1/2 lb. long, thin noodles (spaghetti, udon, rice)
- 1 lb. peeled shrimp (or thinly sliced chicken, pork, or beef)
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets*
- 1 onion, cut in half and sliced*
- 1 sweet red pepper, cut into 1 to 2-inch slices*
- 1 c. sliced mushrooms*
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
- 1-2 tsp. grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp. dried ginger, but add to the sauce if not using fresh)
- 1/3 c. soy sauce
- 1/3 c. chicken or beef broth
- 2 Tb. rice vinegar
- 1-2 Tb. honey
- 2 Tb. sesame oil (divided)
- 2 tsp. arrowroot or cornstarch
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
- Peanut oil for stir-frying
- sesame seeds for garnish
*Use whatever vegetables you like or have available, aiming for 4-6 cups of cut vegetables total.
- Prep and Cut: Cook noodles according to manufacturer’s directions. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with a silicone liner, parchment, or even tin-foil in a pinch.
- While noodles are cooking, prepare meat or seafood and set aside (when using meats, I will usually season them after cutting with soy sauce or just a bit of salt and pepper).
- Prepare all the vegetables, garlic and ginger and set aside.
- In a 1-cup glass measure, combine the remaining ingredients, except peanut oil, and whisk well to make sure the arrowroot/cornstarch is dissolved.
- Shape and bake the noodle pillows: drain noodles, return to pot, add 1 Tb. sesame oil and stir well to coat all the noodles. Use tongs or a pasta server to scoop out noodles and place on baking sheet in 4-5 rounded shapes, dividing evenly. Adjust noodles so that most of the ends are pushed into the circles (not only does it help the shape, but loose ends burn easier). Place in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until browned on the outside of the noodle circles, rotating the pan at the halfway mark.
- Make the stir-fry: Meanwhile, heat a wok or heavy skillet over high heat, add 1 Tb. peanut oil and 1 minced garlic clove, let it warm, and then add the seafood/meat. Stir-fry until cooked through and opaque – about 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness (shrimp will be done when it turns pink). Remove to a clean plate.
- Heat another tablespoon of peanut oil and add onion; stir-fry 1 minute before adding remaining garlic and ginger. Add the next hardest vegetable (broccoli in this case, but could be carrots, cauliflower, etc.) and cook another minute. Add red pepper and mushrooms (or other vegetable that needs only light cooking: cabbage, pak choi, snow peas…) and cook another couple minutes until everything looks bright and crisp-tender.
- Working quickly, add the cooked meat/seafood back to the pan, give the sauce a stir and then pour it over the contents of the pan. Stir well over the heat to incorporate everything together and thicken the sauce, leaving the stir-fry nicely coated. Remove from heat.
- Assemble: Place a noodle pillow on each plate and top with an even portion of the stir-fry. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve -preferably with extra Sriracha sauce, if you’re anything like us!
Makes 4-6 servings[/recipe]