Noodles

Meals for the homeless – simple stir fry noodles with bacon, leek and carrot

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Fried noodles is one of those ‘as you please’ dishes and you can add whatever ingredients you like.  For the weekly homeless feed, I like to compliment main dishes with a simple noodle dish.  Every week I change the ingredients to please our friends’ taste buds.

This week I made a noodle stir fry with bacon, leek and carrot.

Simple fried noodles with bacon, leek and carrot

Method is as follows:

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Meals for the homeless – sweet Potato Noodles with Chinese mushroom and vegetables (gluten free option, vegan)

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I first enjoyed potato noodles in 1990s. I was puzzled by its rich flavors and unusual texture  – soft, firm and bouncy.  Not until many years later I realized these wonderful noodles were actually made of sweet potato starch, not potato.

I love these noodles – easy and cheap to make, yet so versatile you can add anything to it and the noodles will soak up all the beautiful flavors.

Last Saturday I made a huge batch of noodles.  We served it slightly chilled as part of a street banquet. 

Meals for the homeless - sweet Potato Noodles with Chinese mushroom and vegetables (gluten free option, vegan)
DSC03942 #1

Recipe is as follow:

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Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

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Homemade wheat noodles in soup, memories of a peasant family at a noodle shop

A few evenings ago, I watched Behind the News with my 9 year old boy on ABC iview. Behind the News is a TV news program made for the kids. That evening, the program covered the famine situation in Sudan.  “Had China ever have famine?”my little boy asked. These few innocent words had brought back my memories of a peasant family begging at a cheap noodle restaurant. I could still see their shadows, even today.

In early 70’s, my grandmother cooked communal dinners for the extended families. Each family contributed to the cost of the food. Money and resources were limited at the time. We nearly never went out for dinners, as my mother didn’t want to pay for meals twice. One night, for whatever reasons we were at this cheap noodle restaurant. It was a common and shabby place. The kitchen inside was steamy with a large pot of hot water for cooking the noodles, a large pot of cold water to cool and rinse the noodles, and a large pot of soup with nothing in it and barely any color. We found a table outside with wobbly chairs and started to eat our noodle soups. For a few cents, the meal had no meat or vegetables, just plain noodles and a little green shallot floating on top. It was hot and a rare treat for a little 5-year old girl.

Suddenly, 3 children in ragged clothes surrounded our table. They looked different to our city people. They had dark and coarse skin, as they were farmers from the countryside. They were dirty and messy, as they were far away from home and living on streets. They spoke in dialect that I never heard before. They would have traveled from afar, probably from another province where their crops failed. And their eyes, they had such hungry eyes. The littlest one just devoured some leftover soup from the next table, and redirected his attention to my bowl.

I looked up to my mother. ‘Eat up all your food’, she said sternly. When I left some food in the bowl at the end of the meal, she picked up the bowl and swallowed everything in it, including last drops of the soup, the soup of nothingness. The children moved away to another table, motionless.

Peasant family
A peasant family

Many years past, my memories of that family did not fake. Most of all, I was puzzled why my mother was so indifferent to the begging children.  After all, she was an orphan herself. She would have understood the pain and suffering of that family, hungry, homeless and desperate?

This weekend, I made a large batch of noodles from scratch. I served the noodles in a beautiful chicken soup, topped with mouthwatering crispy bacon bits. Life has been kind to our family and we really appreciate what we have.

Like to have a go at making your own noodles?  Recipe is as follows.

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Simple soba noodles with vegetables 撈麵 (low FODMAP, vegan)

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I washed my child’s little blanket today. He has this blanket since he was a baby. There are holes in the blanket and the corners are totally worn. From time to time, I patched up the holes and sewed up the corners with bits from some old towels. I bought him a new one, exactly the same. But I was not allowed to throw the old one away. “So much remember-y”, he said.  “Don’t bring it when we travel then,” I said, ‘I would be embarrassed’.   We traveled with it everywhere we went – Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji and Hawaii.  I love watching him sleep, wrapping himself comfortably in the blanket, with his cute button nose and long black eye lashes.

Old blanket #1
My little boy’s old blanket

Ah, simple things in life are the best. And for dinner, I shall cook one single simple dish.

And what is more simple than a ‘lao mian’ 撈麵 –  noodles simply mixed with soy and sesame oil. And if you desire, you can add whatever on top. ‘Lao’means mix, ‘mian’ means noodles.

Tonight, I used soba noddles. Soba noodles with wheat has been tested by Monash University recently. The low FODMAP portion is 1/3 cup noodles, or 90g. Unfortunately Monash didn’t identify if the 90g is dry weight or cooked weight. So I assumed the 90g as cooked weight, just to be on the safe side.

Simple soba noodles with vegetables 撈麵 (low FODMAP, vegan)

Recipe is as follows:

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Noodles with cloud ear, beef and vegetables

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Sometime we just want a quick and no fuss meal, something easy, hearty and delicious. Noodles fit into this category nicely.

I often have a few packs of udon noodles in the pantry. I found udon noodles have the right texture once boiled, perfect for tossing in a frying pan for a quick stir fry.  Cloud ears (Chinese black fungus) is another vegetable that I often stock up. Once re-hydrated, it is so quick to cook and refreshingly crunchy. We also love cabbage for its sweetness and longevity in the fridge.

This cloud ear, beef and vegetable noodle dish takes about 20-30 minutes to make. It is flavored with oyster sauce and mushroom dark soy sauce. I added plenty of sesame seeds for extra flavor.

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Carrot ‘noodles’ with green bean and bean sprout (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Last week I was cooking humble carrots and wondering how may carrot dishes I could create. Here is one of them…

There are so many wonderful things about carrot, crunchy, juicy, colorful, full of goodies. Best of all, it has no carbohydrate so the FODMAPers can have as much carrot as they wish.

Carrot 'noodles' with green bean and bean sprout (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follow:

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Homemade buckwheat noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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A few weeks ago I made a really nice dashi soup base with shaved katsuobushi (preserved fermented skipjack tuna) and kombu (kelp). I looked in the cupboard for some soba noodles and noticed that they all contained wheat. That weekend I did a special trip to my favorite Asian supermarket at Chinatown to search for a gluten free soba, yet none could be found.

Never mind, I will just have to make my own buckwheat noodles. To make it light and bouncy, I used a combination of buckwheat (1/2), rice flour (1/4) and tapioca starch (1/4).

Homemade buckwheat noodles with soy sauce and sesame oil (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

Recipe is as follow:

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Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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FODMAP vegan can be delicious too – tofu recipe #3.

Try this hot rice noodle soup with tofu, radish, carrot, spinach, chili, coriander, ginger, soy and sesame oil.

Tofu and noodle soup (low FODMAP, gluten free, vegan)

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Homemade rice noodles (FODMAP friendly, gluten free )

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The packaged rice noodles (hor fun)  from the fridge sections at Asian supermarkets  typically consist of wheat starch. Here is my gluten free version – it is simple to make and delicious. I also use the same noodle sheets to make steamed noodle rolls with meat.

Homemade rice noodles (FODMAP friendly, gluten free )
Homemade rice noodles (FODMAP friendly, gluten free )

Handmade rice noodle, steamed with beef
Handmade rice noodle, steamed with meat

Recipe is as follows:

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Green bean noodles (粉皮) with Sichuan chili soybean pork

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A couple of years ago a school mun made a green bean sheet dish for the school food festival. It tasted really nice with a wonderful texture. So I said to myself that I would make it one day. It took me two years to get around it – well, better now than never.

Here is my spicy green bean sheet with pork. The pork is minced and stir fried with Sichuan chili soybean paste  (豆瓣酱) and sweet soybean paste. The style is ‘liang ban’ which means the dish is lightly chilled after the cooking is completed.

 Green bean noodles (粉皮) with Sichuan chili soybean pork

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Curry laksa with white cooked chicken

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I left China to study in Australia in late 1980s. When I was in University, I worked in an Asian restaurant during some evenings, waiting at tables together with a lovely young lady called Linda. Linda was from Malaysia, a medical student at University of New South Wales. Petite, quiet and super intelligent, Linda had a wonderful personality with gentleness and calm. She always listened patiently to my grunts and dropped a few humorous comments from time to time. One day, she went to the kitchen and made us Malaysian curry laksa for supper. The laska was very different to the Thai version I had at various restaurant. When I was enjoying the laksa, I  felt that I really missed home, not my own, but Linda’s home at Malaysia, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Curry laksa with white cooked chicken

And here is my version of curry laksa… Read the rest of this entry »

Wok fried ‘dry’ beef rice noodles 干炒牛河

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This is one of my all time favorite – growing up in Southern China there were stalls at nearly every street selling these aromatic & mouth watering wok fry noodles. The smell of soy sauce sizzling in a wok was absolutely amazing.  This noodle dish is called ‘dry fried’ – when you eat the noodles, there should be no sauce visible. The sauce should have been ‘sizzled up’ by the wok’s high heat or in Chinese, it is call ‘wok-chi’.

Wok fried 'dry' beef rice noodles 干炒牛河

See below for recipe :

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Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

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A lady who worked with me in the same company some years ago is also a mum at my little boy’s school.  She helped serving Asian food at the school fete and saw the mountain of food sold out in an hour or so.  ‘Next year’, she declared, ‘I will bring my husband and a grill to serve Vietnamese pork kebabs.’

At my work, I sit next to a young Korean lady, across from a Malay, a Vietnamese, an Irish and a Russian. So I took the advantage and asked about the pork kebabs. The best pork kebabs, I was told, was from an old lady at Cabramatta in Western Sydney who takes orders during the week and delivers the kebabs with a delicious peanut sauce via a fruit shop on Saturdays. She will be there for 2 hours each week, and she does not speak any English.  Now, that would be a problem, as I can’t speak Vietnamese.

So I went on continuing my research efforts. Weeks later my little boy had a play date with Ben. It so happens that Ben’s mum is the best friend of Sue whom I had crossed path at my work last year.   I caught up with Sue for coffees and found out that she is a third generation Chinese grew up  in Vietnam, and she lives nearby.  ‘No need to go to Cabramatta’, she said,’ there is a butcher shop just 10 minutes from your house, and it sells very good pork kebabs”.

Here we go, I finally found the pork kebabs today. I grilled them and serve them on a bed of bean sprouts, rice noodles, pickled carrot, mint and coriander; then I poured over a fish sauce mixture (nuoc nam).  Tasted so good & nearly no recipe required.

Vietnamese pork kebab (Nem Nuong) on noodles, salad and fresh herbs

 

Recipe is as follow:

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Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf (gluten free)

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My kaffir lime shrub is doing very well in the garden this year despite the (relatively) cold & wet winter. So I decided to cook a dish with some kaffir lime leaves. I have some mung bean vermicelli in the pantry. I love mung bean vermicelli – it can be used in so many dishes – prawn hot pot, vegetarian stew, soup… wonderful texture and doesn’t soak up too much sauce. Karfir lime leaves add extra layer of flavor to this noodle dish.

Mung bean vermicelli with pork, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf  (gluten free)

 

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Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy and vinegar

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This dish is simply refreshing & refreshingly simple – the silkiness of the tofu, the tangy soy & vinegar sauce enhanced by the sweetness of the pork floss, add soba noodles to make a full lunch out of it.

Steamed tofu with pork floss (肉松), noodles, soy & vinegar

Recipe is as follow:  Read the rest of this entry »

Soba noodles with pearl mushrooms (vegan)

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I walked pass an Asian grocery store today and saw some beautiful pearl mushrooms at the front. I could not help myself – I had a visual of a bowl of juicy noodles with deep dark soy & sesame flavor. And here it is…

Soba noodles with pearl mushrooms (vegan)

Recipe is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »