The most common problem with making stir-fried noodles at home is one of volume. You want to make enough for a whole family but your wok sadly isn’t up to the task. Don’t blame the wok or the stove, it’s not their fault.
If you look at fried noodles anywhere – from hawker centres to busy Chinese restaurants – nobody is making enough for a family of four in one hit. Fried noodles are best made in single or double servings even in huge woks over jet-powered gas stoves, and trying to load four serves into a wok at one time is a recipe for disaster.
You have two options. You can make the noodles one or two serves at a time, but that can mean people are eating at different times. Or you can slightly change your technique to make a big pot of noodles ready to feed a crowd. This recipe serves 4 with 1kg of noodles, but I’ve done this with 6kg of noodles before with perfect results, all on a domestic stove.
4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced into bite-sized pieces
4 tbsp peanut oil, or other vegetable oil
2 thick slices of ginger, bruised
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 thick spring onions, white part sliced, green part cut into 5cm lengths
6 large leaves of Chinese cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 bunch choy sum, cut 5cm lengths
12 large peeled and deveined raw prawns
2 squid tubes, scored and cut into pieces
1kg fresh egg noodles (sometimes called Hokkien noodles)
2 cups beansprouts
1 tsp cornflour mixed into 2 tbsp cold water or stock (if necessary)
fried shallots, coriander and sliced chilies, to serve
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Cheong chan caramel sauce, kecap manis or dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar (optional)
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
Mix the meat marinade ingredients together with the chicken and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy casserole pot until it is very hot and add in the oil. Add in the ginger first and then after a few seconds, the garlic and white part of the spring onions. Stir for a minute or two until the garlic starts to brown and then add the chicken. Fry the chicken until it starts to brown, then add the Chinese cabbage, carrot, choy sum and spring onion greens. Fry for a few minutes until the vegetables are softened.
Loosen the noodles in their packet by poking a few holes in the bag and massaging them to loosen. Microwave the entire bag for 2 minutes.
Add the seafood, then the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then taste the sauce forming in the bottom. It should taste strong and flavourful. Adjust for seasoning.
Add in the noodles and bean sprouts and stir to combine. Continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Pour over the cornflour mixture if there is any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed, fry for a further 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Allow to stand for a few moments and then transfer to a plate. Scatter with crispy fried shallots, and serve with your favourite chilli.
Tips for Family Fried Noodles
- The key for this dish is the flavourful sauce made from the juices released from the ingredients, plus the seasonings added. This sauce will be absorbed by the noodles and define the flavour of the dish. Make sure you taste it, and that it tastes strong and delicious.
- Use any combination of ingredients you like. Pork works well, as do fried fish cakes. You can even flavour the noodle sauce – a dash of ketchup or even a spoon of curry powder will give a very different flavour.
- These make a great picnic dish. Secure the lid on the pot with a strong elastic band or plastic wrap, then drop the whole pot into an insulated shopping bag to make it portable and keep it warm for hours.