I have this book.
I’ve had it for years. Decades even. It’s blue and white striped, and time has taken its toll on it. The spine has collapsed and the glue that sticks the pages to the cover has completely given up. It really ought to be emblazoned with ‘Handle with care’. This is my most treasured recipe book. It was the book where I wrote out (in my neatest high school handwriting) my first favourite recipes and subsequently it became also the place where I ‘stuffed’ recipes to keep … on scraps of paper, from newspaper/magazine cuttings and those recipe cards that you used to find in the supermarket. Can you still get those?
There are also stacks of recipes that I’ve gathered but never made … a Sausagemeat Lasagne (I remember getting the recipe after a yummy Book Club dinner), Peanut Butter & Chocolate Brownies, Lemon Sparkle Mousse, Ginger Iced Oaties, Chocolate Biscotti. Looks like I’m going to be busy giving some of these a try.
But between the old favourites, there are also a few recipes that have been forgotten and deserve a resurrection – albeit perhaps with a mini makeover. And so, today I’m starting with Quick Crunchy Chicken Noodles. I couldn’t possible put a date on it, but I CAN confirm that it was born way before metric was a big thing (conversion from ounces was necessary).
I remember us all loving this dish back in the day – and I suppose that this type of recipe was a forerunner to all those packet stir fry sauces that you can pick up everywhere nowadays. According to my notes I used to serve this as ‘Quick Crunchy Garlic Chicken’ with brown rice but today my preference would be noodles – Udon or Hokkien work well. Follow the packet instructions, but basically no need to pre-cook them, just throw them in at the last moment to heat them through.
The original incarnation of this dish was much sweeter and had no ginger or chillies (I’m guessing that they weren’t easily available in the olden days). But after a couple of attempts, the resurrection is complete. Tasty, garlicky chicken, red peppers and fat, juicy noodles in a slightly sweet/spicy sauce with crunchy almonds and topped with a tangle of bean sprouts and spring onions. A clear winner.
And here’s why you’ll be with me on this resurrection –
- This is an easy dinner. Chop, stir fry, eat.
- Because it’s on the stir fry spectrum, the key to this dish is to do all your chopping beforehand. And that means that when it’s dinner time you are all ready to go. We like that.
- This is a speedy dinner, which I guess is implied by the name. #1 teenage son was reading this over my shoulder as I was writing and read it as ‘Quite Crunchy Chicken Noodles’. He’s right it is ‘quite’ crunchy (that’ll be the almonds) but it’s quick too. And that’s very quick – not quite quick.
- It’s a healthy dinner too which packs in plenty of vegetables and none of those packet sauces filled with mystery ingredients.
- It’s a one pan dinner. Hooray – less washing up.
- This is one for all the family. Young and old. You’ll know if your guys will tolerate the bean sprouts part.
- Makes a rather nice leftover lunch. If you’re lucky that is.
So there you have it. An easy peasy mid-week dinner. Here’s betting that this will be one that will make its way into your repertoire …
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 teaspoons grated, fresh ginger
- 1 fat, red chilli - finely chopped
- 5 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 4 chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 110g (4oz) whole blanched almonds
- 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 600g (1lb 5oz) Udon or Hokkien noodles
- 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
- 175g (6oz) bean sprouts
- additional light soy sauce to serve (optional)
- Put the garlic, ginger, chilli and 4 tablespoons of the soy sauce into a bowl and blend in the cornflour. Add the chicken strips and mix until well coated. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, add the nuts and stir fry fry for 1 minute.
- Now add the peppers and chicken (as well as all of the chicken's marinade) and stir fry for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken has separated and browned. There is every chance that the mixture will want to stick to the pan here. Have a small jug of cold water handy and use a splash of water every now and then to keep the mixture moving.
- Add the final tablespoon of soy sauce, the sugar, sherry and the noodles and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until everything is warmed through. Add a little extra water at this stage if the mixture is too dry.
- Pile onto a large platter (or individual plates) and top with a tangle of bean sprouts and chopped spring onions.Serve with extra soy sauce on the side.