Miso Stir-Fried Noodles (Vegan)
Miso paste is not just for soup. Here I’ve used boxed pasta and a handful of pantry items to create a flavorful stir-fried dish in just a few minutes.
The countdown is on for Christmas–are you ready? Me, not quite yet. But let’s face it, I’ve never been one to have the presents all checked off the list and wrapped with five days left to spare. The UPS deliveries are still trickling in and I’ll need to brave the shops a few more times before I can consider myself done. But this is my normal.
My other normal this time of year is the easy (okay, lazy) fare I put on the table. My birthday is ten days before Christmas so there are a few indulgent celebratory meals before the holidays but at home it’s all about what I can get on the table quickly.
Knowing that last night I’d be out for the evening with my girlfriends (an annual tradition to celebrate my birthday) I prepared these noodles for my husband, mainly to assuage my guilt for my absence in the kitchen over the past week. The best part was that even with a near-empty larder this turned out to be one of the best things to come out of my kitchen over the last few weeks. He enjoyed it so much that after tasting it and seeing I had made a big batch he thought to drop off a serving to a friend who’s been bedridden with the flu for a few days.
So what’s so special about this noodle dish? Nothing. Nothing at all…and that’s the beauty of it. Its simplicity is one of its best qualities.
I had vegetables to use up and a box of whole grain angel hair pasta (I didn’t even have proper Asian noodles). But rather than using oyster sauce or another bottled stir-fry sauce I turned to another pantry staple for flavor: miso paste.
What is Miso? (It’s More than Just for Soup)
Miso is made of fermented soybeans and has so much more to offer than being a base for that little bowl of soup you get with your sushi or bento box. These days you can pick up little tubs of miso paste at most American markets. You’ll usually find red or white miso paste–the color depends on the type of grain the soybeans have been fermented with. The latter is milder and slightly sweet and is the variety I prefer because it’s friendly to other ingredients I like to keep in stock.
Miso paste is one of my favorite marinades for fish and chicken. It’s such an umami bomb that it lends a lot a flavor in very little time. It’s also wonderful in Asian-style vinaigrettes.
Here I was inspired to use white miso paste with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) for stir-fried noodles (or pasta, in this case). I didn’t need a cocktail of ingredients to make it taste like I’d slaved away on the stove. In reality the vegetables and sauce came together in the short time it took to boil the water and cook the pasta.
Miso paste is a great way to boost flavor in vegetarian or vegan dishes. The idea here was to prepare something easy and very quickly so I didn’t add protein but tofu would be a nice addition. If you’re not vegan, shrimp, chicken or beef or even just a fried egg would work well, too. Use your favorite Asian noodles but if you keep lots of dried pasta in your pantry like I do, don’t hesitate to use that. The great thing about using angel hair pasta like I’ve done here is that it cooks in under five minutes.
If you look at the short ingredient list and are unfamiliar with some of the items I’ve used here are substitutions you can use:
Kecap Manis: This is sweet soy sauce so you can use the same amount of soy sauce in the recipe and add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of sugar (or honey) to the sauce.
Mushroom Powder: This ingredient is optional but you can find it at most Asian markets. Trader Joe’s carries mushroom powder in their spice section–I would just use half the amount I recommend below as it contains more salt than the Asian variety. You can use half the amount of onion powder in place of it.
Savoy Cabbage: Use whatever vegetables you need to use up and any cabbage will work here.
Chili Sauce: I use my own chili sauce but feel free to use sriracha or sambal oelek if you want to add a bit of heat.
Miso Stir-Fried Noodles (Vegan)
Miso paste is not just for soup. Here I've used boxed pasta and a handful of pantry items to create a flavorful stir-fried dish in just a few minutes.
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 2 teaspoons mushroom powder (optional)(or 1 teaspoon onion powder)
- 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (or same amount soy sauce plus 1 teaspoon sugar)
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1/2 cup warm water
Noodles and Vegetables
- 1/2 head cabbage (or 3/4 if small head of cabbage), chopped
- 4 ribs celery, sliced
- 1/2 large onion, sliced
- 3/4 pound fresh noodles or dried angel hair pasta (or any pasta)
- olive oil or your favorite neutral oil
- Chopped scallions
- lime or lemon wedges
- freshly ground pepper
Bring a pot of water to a boil. While you wait for the water, combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
In a large pan or skillet, add two to three tablespoons oil and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the onion and celery and cook for about three minutes until or until the onion slices start to brown in some parts. Stir the prepared sauce and add one or two tablespoons to the skillet along with the cabbage. Stir-fry for one minute. If your pasta is still cooking, turn off the heat. Stir once or twice to prevent any burns.
Once the water has boiled, add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Don't overcook–it's better to slightly undercook your pasta/noodles. Drain and immediately add to the skillet with the vegetables. Turn the heat back on to medium-high and add the sauce. If the mixture looks too dry, add another tablespoon or two of oil. Toss with tongs or two spatulas and make sure the noodles have been evenly coated with the sauce. You can cook for an additional two minutes to lightly toast the noodles. Turn off the heat. Plate and serve with the recommended garnish.