This was the first recipe that I tried with fresh rice noodles, and I’m not sure I can ever go back to dry noodles now that I know the incredible difference that exists between them. In a word: heaven.
- 1 tbsp canola or coconut oil, plus 3 tbsp for later
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (but really you can totally put more – this is the minimum)
- 1 Japanese eggplant, cut into large chunks
- 1.5 cups veggie soya cut into strips, or cubed tofu, or cubed seitan, herein referred to as “meat”
- 1 package fresh rice noodles, available at most Asian markets in the refrigerated section
- 1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
- 4 cups Chinese greens, cut into strips (this means Chinese broccoli, bok choy, you choy, etc.)
- at least ¼ cup veggie oyster sauce (it’s derived from mushrooms and is also available at most Asian markets)
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
First, cut up and prepare all of your ingredients. This is a quick recipe once everything’s ready to get tossed in the wok. Preheat your wok at a fairly high heat. Add 1 tbsp canola or coconut oil – basically any oil with a high smoking point. Add garlic and keep it moving. Once it’s fragrant (about a minute), add the eggplant and your chosen “meat”. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant softens, but not until it’s fully cooked. Transfer to a plate and set aside for a second.
To prepare fresh rice noodles, the best thing to do is rinse them in hot water until you can tease them apart and/or cut them to the size you want. Once they’re malleable and ready, reheat the wok and add the 3 tbsp oil – the first time you try this you may need more, but let’s start with this because I can’t bare using any more oil than this in a stir-fry. Once the oil is hot (you can test this by flicking a tiny amount of water into the pan. If it’s hot enough the pan should spit it back at you), toss in the noodles and stir those puppies like your life depended on it. After about a minute or two, add the eggplant and “meat” back in and keep stirring. Add the pepper and stir. Add the greens and stir. Finally, add the “oyster” sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli garlic sauce. Depending on how well you drained the noodles, you may need to add about a ¼ cup of water or veggie broth to get a nice sauce going. Though I’ve indicated measurements for the sauce, feel free to just slap stuff in as you like – it’s a forgiving dish in that sense, and easy to tweak to your personal preferences.
Oh, if you’re not using fresh rice noodles, i.e. you’re using dry ones, you’ll need to boil them for a few minutes beforehand, ensuring that you’ve rinsed them in cold water prior to adding them to the eggplant and “meat”. Carry on as usual from that point. If you boil fresh rice noodles in this way, you’ll end up with a soggy pile of white mush. I don’t recommend it.