Give your pack of instant noodles an upgrade by transforming it into crispy chow mein. The recipe below comes with a video.
Yep, we eat instant noodles at home. I swore them off over a decade ago. You know, empty calories, all that MSG… But when my girls were in college and living in rented condos, instant noodles saved their lives in many ways. And they never got over the habit of stocking up on instant noodles.
Truth be told, instant noodles kept us from starving during travel too. Twice.
The first time was in Saigon. We had an early afternoon flight to Manila and we were hoping we could have banh mi before the drive to the airport. Alex stepped out of the apartment for our banh mi fix but our favorite banh mi lady had sold all her bread for the morning. Alex was in shock. That banh mi wouldn’t be our last meal in Saigon did not quite fit into her travel plan. But the banh mi lady who starts selling early in the morning was about to drive off in her scooter as Alex stepped out of the building. And she wouldn’t be back until the afternoon. We would be up in the air by that time.
It was a good thing that we had packs of instant noodles. We bought them at the nearby Japanese grocery a few nights before — not to eat at the apartment but to bring home varieties that we had never encountered before. Well, two of those packs of instant noodles never made it back to the Philippines.
The second time was in Hanoi. Sam and I were out shopping and, by the time we were back in the neighborhood of our apartment, the restaurant where I intended to have dinner was already closed. We couldn’t locate the nearest grocery either.
Fortunately, we found a variety store. Not the Western kind of convenience store, mind you, but a neighborhood store where one can buy anything from laundry detergent to instant noodles at cheaper prices because the owner doesn’t have to pay a franchise fee the way operators of 7-11 or Family Mart do. Filipinos would know what I’m talking about. We have those stores too at home and we call them sari-sari stores. We bought packs of instant noodles, more than what we were going to eat that night, because, you know, just in case we found ourselves in a similar predicament again.
So, you see, I’ve stopped thumbing my nose at instant noodles long ago. We keep them in stock at home and we even get creative with them.
Crispy Chow Mein
- 1 pack instant noodles
For the stir fry
- cooking oil
- 1 chicken thigh fillet cut into strips
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup julienned carrot
- ¼ cup julienned bell pepper
- 1 cup spinach
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- Cook the noodles in boiling water. Drain and cool.
- Heat two tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan. Spread the chicken in the hot oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and fry until no longer pink.
- Add the garlic and onion to the chicken; cook just until the onion slices soften.
- Add the carrot, bell pepper and spinach, at half-minute intervals. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Mix all the ingredients for the sauce with half a cup of water and pour into the pan. Cook, stirring, until thick and no longer cloudy.
- Heat enough cooking oil in a pan to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Drop the drained and cooled noodles into the hot oil. Fry until crisp.
- Scoop out the noodles and lay on a plate.
- Top with the chicken and vegetables stir fry.
- Serve your crispy chow mein immediately.