By a show of hands, how many of you have looked up a recipe online that ‘serves 4’ (most recipes are written to scale to 4), cooked it, and then realized that there is nowhere close to enough food to feed the 4 people sitting at your table? I’ve been burned by this a few times in the past. And mind you, these recipes don’t come with a qualifier that says ‘4 as a side’ or ‘4 if you have 3 appetizers and 2 sides to go with.’ They just blankly state 4. I don’t get it. Maybe their target market is toddlers? Maybe birds? I get that quantities are so subjective, but for what it’s worth, 200 grams of noodleswith the veg and other stuff that went into thisfed the 2 of us comfortably as the main and only dish.

On the flip side, I don’t like large quantities of leftovers either. At least not unless I specifically plan for them. Which I do quite a bit of, especially say, with soups or khow suey or chili – all things that freeze really well. If you’re putting in that kind of time, you may as well scale up and optimize it to stretch to many meals.

Noodle dishes and stir-fries usually cook up really fast but are notorious for their never ending amount of prep – all that chopping and dicing and mincing. I find myself using the oven quite a lot for this. Which for this application may seem a bit unconventional, but it’s essentially giving you the same resultsmost often, better results in factand for minimal effort on your part. For example, the broccoli and mushrooms here would typically get blanched or sautéed in the pan. It’s not hard work, but it’s these small steps that usually add up to a significant amount of time and effort in the end. Instead do this: whilst you’re boiling the noodles, get the vegetables into the oven. Get on with the rest of the stuff and the veggies will look after themselves. Those burnished bits are a bonus on a bonus.

The sauce is simple enough – oyster sauce, peanut butter, soy and chilli oil. I highly recommend making your own chilli oil, but this chilli crisp works just as well here. If you don’t have access to either, use chilli flakes. This will not give you quite the same umami hit, but it’ll still work. (Use the shiitake mushroom variant of oyster sauce to make this dish vegetarian-friendly.)

SICHUAN-STYLE NOODLES

Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 200 grams noodles (see notes)
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 200 grams mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped into thin slivers
  • 7 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onion tops, chopped
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 3 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil or chilli flakes (see notes)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200 C.
  • Cook the noodles as per packet instructions. Run them under cold water. This stops them from getting gluggy and sticky.
  • Chop the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. Chop the stems and smaller stalks into roughly the same size as the florets. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise into thin slivers. If the stems are fresh, leave them on.
  • Toss the broccoli and mushrooms with toasted sesame oil or regular vegetable oil. Lay them out on a baking tray and roast for 20 mins.
  • For the sauce: mix all the ingredients listed above. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Start with 1 tbsp of chilli oil and add more if necessary.)
  • Heat the oil in a large wok or pot. Sauté slivered onions and garlic until the onions start to brown around the edges.
  • Add the sauce and the roasted vegetables. Swill out the sauce bowl with ¼ cup of water and add to the pot. Tip the noodles in and toss through. Check seasoning. Add more of one or more of the sauce ingredients to get the right flavour and consistency you want.
  • Add spring onion tops and broccoli leaves over the top. Drizzle over a bit more sesame oil and chilli oil to finish. Serve hot. Also reheats very well.

Notes

  • Adapted from Marion Grasby
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  • Don’t salt the vegetables before roasting. This will draw out the moisture from the mushrooms and they will end up braising in the liquid. We want some colour on them.
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  • I used egg noodles. Any thin noodle will work here - egg or veg.
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  • If your broccoli has any leaves attached, save these and add them in the end with the spring onions.
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  • If you don’t have chilli oil, use chilli crisp. If not, chilli flakes. Chilli flakes won’t give you the same results, but it’ll still work.
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  • Use a vegetarian oyster sauce if you want to make it veg-friendly.

 

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