I am a noodle monster. Rice or wheat, egg or vermicelli; chow mein, lo mein – all mein. Yaki soba, pad thai, teppan yaki, ramen or udon, bo bun – those words are magic to my ears. Jajangmyeon. Jjamppong. Mie goreng. Mi rebus. Pad Kee Mao. Khauk swè. Banh pho. OMG.
I always get excited about new dishes but the prospect of trying out a new oriental outfit that might/will serve noodle dishes makes me giddy. I moan like the grumpiest old git about the dearth of exotic restaurants around where I live; with just Indian (too smelly, and they don’t even eat noodles) and Chinese (boring western type of dishes) in the forecourt. The most memorable place I ate at in the French Dordogne river valley, the land of foi gras and truffles, was a small Vietnamese restaurant. The Welsh lamb is safe with me – Mei’s Asian fusion place was my favouritest in the whole of North Wales.
I learnt to cook good noodles the hard way: rice noodles don’t get crisp, they dissolve into a lump of starch. When they say ‘soak’ on the packet, you need to soak; when they say ‘cook’, you cook or chew plasticky strands for ever. Packages know better than you.
Sauces are more than just soy, sweet chili and oyster sauces in random proportions; you do NOT have a natural flair for creating tasty sauces unless you’re Chinese or Jason Atherton. But then, to be honest, give me a bowl of plain noodles and a bottle of soy sauce and I’m happy.
These are plain, vegetarian, sesame flavoured, takeaway-style noodles with peanuts (of course), cucumber (genius) and beans (or beansprouts, or sugar snaps, or mangetout); recipe adapted from NYTimes Cooking. And they are to die for.