Cooking is a really big part of our lives, isn't it, ladies? Unless you have house-help that can do some of the cooking for you (which I recommend, by the way!) you spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And even for those who love to cook, learning to use new ingredients and cook new foods can be a stressful challenge! If you could just play around, it would be fun, but when the well-being of your family depends on it three times a day, it gets tiring, right?

Anyway, I want to start posting one recipe each week from the collection I used regularly when we lived overseas. Not all of them will be reproducible in all parts of the world, but hopefully they will be helpful to some! Today I'll share one of our lunch-time favorites, and my go-to recipe when I had short-notice, unexpected company over mealtime. (Or NOT over mealtime, as the case may be - more than once we had guests arrive at 9pm that hadn't eaten all day!) I call it "fried noodles" because it's essentially the same dish as fried rice, except you use Indomie (Top Ramen) Instant Noodles instead of rice. Here's the process . . .

I start by putting a tea pot of water on to boil, for the noodles. Then I chop a few of whatever veggies I have on hand - usually half an onion, some cabbage, maybe some green pepper or carrots. Throw these into a large (preferably deep) skillet with a generous amount of oil and fry until soft. (I like the onions to be browned, they have a sweeter flavor that way.) As soon as the water is boiling, I open 3-4 packs of noodles (estimate almost one pack per person) and put them in a bowl, then pour boiling water over them. Cover with a plate (or a lid, if you happen to have such luxuries!) and let sit while the veggies are cooking. Soaking rather than cooking keeps the noodles from getting too soggy and falling apart. When the veggies are almost done, add several eggs (I usually use as many eggs as I'm using noodle packets) and stir while cooking. Or you can add canned chicken or fish or sausages - basically any kind of already-cooked meat! Cook just long enough to warm the meat (or scramble the eggs). Then drain the noodles well, and add to your skillet. Also add half of the seasoning packets from the noodles (if you're using four packs of noodles, only use two seasoning packets), and a generous sprinkle of curry powder and black pepper. Mix well but gently to keep the noodles intact. Serve immediately!

I can whip this dish up in twenty minutes, and it's one of my family's favorites! When we lived in West Africa, I bought Indomie noodles by the case, so that if all else failed, we could always have fried noodles for lunch. :-)

Here's the recipe in a more standard format:

Fried Indomie Noodles

4 packs chicken-flavored Indomie, cooked and drained

1/2 onion, chopped

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 carrot, sliced

1 clove garlic, pressed

4 eggs

2 seasoning packets from noodles

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

Fry the vegetables in oil until soft. Add eggs and scramble together, cooking until eggs are firm. Stir in noodles and seasonings, and fry just until everything is heated through and well-mixed. Serve immediately! Serves 4-5, unless you have hungry teenage boys, in which case it feeds about 3. :-)

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