Beef and Cabbage Stir-Fried Noodles
Quick and easy food doesn’t have to be bland and boring. These stir-fried noodles are packed with umami and come together in minutes.
In my previous post you might have noticed my apologetic tone for sharing such a basic recipe using leftover rice. It was hardly a recipe at all but I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a few readers who appreciated the idea.
Feeling encouraged now, I proceed with another quick and easy recipe. This big bowl of stir-fried noodles is not only convenient but it also caters to my fondness for comfort food, especially during these colder months.
One of my favorite shortcuts is fresh ramen noodles. They can usually be found near the tofu and refrigerated salad dressing sections of the produce department. They come with seasoning packets but I don’t use them mainly for sodium management. It’s the noodles that spring to life with an al dente bite after a short soak in hot water that I’m after.
We are only occasional red meat eaters around here but instead of sticking to the usual vegetarian stir-fry, this version boasts added flavor, texture and substance with the addition of ground beef. Not much–there are still more vegetable add-ins but the added protein makes for a more balanced dish.
The flavor base includes the usual suspects for Asian cooking–soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili sauce, rice wine and kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)–but the combination doesn’t get old. The beauty of these ingredients is that they are widely available but if for some reason you’re short one or two items, substitutions are easy without compromising the final product (I offer alternatives in the recipe below).
But you don’t have to stop there. If beef and cabbage don’t do it for you, use ground pork, turkey or chicken and throw in whatever greens you have in your crisper drawer. In absence of fresh ramen (or yakisoba) noodles, use a box of spaghetti. The options are limitless and lesson for me: there’s no shame in offering simple food. Everyone wants it, especially if it nourishes, satisfies and comforts like this big bowl of noodles.
Beef and Cabbage Stir-Fried Noodles
Quick and easy food doesn't have to be bland and boring. These stir-fried noodles are packed with umami and come together in minutes.
- 15 ounces fresh yakisoba noodles (See Note)
- Few tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
- 1 stalk celery, sliced thinly
- 1/3 wedge cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup water (See Note)
Soy Seasoning (Stir together in a small bowl)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or hoisin sauce)
- 1 tablespoon kecap manis (or sub with more oyster sauce)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (or your favorite chili sauce)
- 1 tablespoon mirin (or rice vinegar or shao xing wine)
- lemon or lime wedges
- chopped scallions
- ground black pepper
Prepare the noodles according to package instructions. For the Fortune brand noodles used here they are soaked in hot water for about five minutes to soften them a little. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet heat two to three tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef. You can turn up the heat a little (if necessary) to allow for quicker browning. After one or two minutes add one tablespoon of the soy seasoning and continue to stir-fry for three to four minutes until the beef shows some browning. Add the onion and celery and stir fry for another three minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Add the noodles and more olive oil if necessary. Add 1/4 cup water (see note) and stir fry the noodles for about three minutes to get some caramelization. Add the rest of the soy seasoning and cabbage, toss and stir fry until well combined, one to two minutes. Turn off the heat, plate and serve. Garnish with lime or lemon wedges, chopped scallions and ground pepper (all optional).
Noodles: This recipe uses the Fortune brand fresh yakisoba noodles that comes in packs of three (five ounces each) in the produce section of most markets. I discard the flavor packets. Any ramen noodle would work here; just be sure to follow the directions to prepare them before using in this recipe.
Water: The noodles used here call for water to be added during the cooking process to finish cooking them. If you are using a different brand and they are fully cooked (or the package doesn’t call for it), you can omit the water step.