Saturday, January 5, 2013

Noodling through Asian Cuisines.

Typically, when you go to a Chinese take-out, the most popular noodle dish is Lo Mein; a noodle which resembles Italian Spaghetti.  However, it can come in a flat variety similar looking to Fettucine and used in dishes like Ho Fun; the wider variety is used for Chow Fun.  At home, there is the ever popular Ramen noodle that comes in a solid block form which can be used for making soups or main dishes such as Stir Fry.  Cellophane Noodles or Threads are made from mung bean sprouts and resemble Vermicelli.

Then there are Japanese noodles such as Soba and Udon; Soba is made from buckwheat and resembles Spaghetti, while Udon is made from wheat, resembles Fettuccine and is more thick and chewy.  In Thai and Vietnamese cuisines, noodles are made from rice flour.   Basically what I am trying to get across is that you shouldn't be discouraged from making Asian recipes if you cannot find the "correct" type of noodle in your local market.  Many pasta companies are introducing products made with wheat or other grains, not just the egg and white flour variety.

My recipe today is a noodle dish which works well with Lo Mein, Soba or Udon noodles, and if you cannot find these, don't panic!  Substitute Spaghetti or Fettuccine, and you can use whatever grain variety you like: white, wheat or multi-grain flour.  Part of comfort cooking is not just the feeling you get when eating the food, but how you feel as you're creating it.  If you're not in a good place feeling wise, chances are that your dish won't be once it's completed.  Relax and enjoy.

I'm calling today's recipe "Fireworks Shrimp and Noodles"; first, because of the eye popping colors of the carrots and edamame.  Secondly, I use Sriracha, a Chinese Chili sauce which can knock your taste buds on their little butts.  The amount I use in my recipe will give you some heat, but not the burn.  If you cannot find Sriracha, then substitute Thai Chili sauce; worse comes to worse, then use whatever hot sauce you have on hand.  Remember, start small with the amount of hot sauce; you can always add, but you cannot take away.

Fireworks Shrimp and Noodles


1 (12 oz) package Asian noodles (lo mein, soba, udon)
1 (8 oz) package frozen shelled edamame (soy beans)
1 (8 oz) package frozen julienned carrots
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp hot sauce (Sriracha or Thai chili sauce are best)
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined


Prepare noodles according to package directions; 5 minutes before noodles are done, add the edamame and carrots; finish cooking the noodles.  Drain, but reserve a ½ cup of cooking water; mix the water back in with the noodles and vegetables and also mix in the garlic, ginger and hot sauce.

In a Wok or large skillet, heat oil on medium-high heat; cook shrimp until they turn pink, about 2-3 minutes. Add the noodle/vegetable mixture plus the soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and cook an additional 2 minutes before serving.

Note: additional hot sauce can be added if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Mary Cokenour
January 5, 2013