In some Chinese restaurants, if you order a dish with noodles and ask for them “Hong Kong style” they will pan-fry them so they are crispy and delicious. Last night I decided to try making pan-fried noodles and they turned out great. I served them with Gai Lan, and some Trader Joe’s soup dumplings. The soup dumplings were just OK; a bit too doughy for my taste, but the noodles were fantastic. Next time I will add some shrimp and scrambled egg to the noodles to make a whole main dish.
The trick here is to get the wok screaming hot and to leave the noodles alone while they crisp up. They need to get at least 5 minutes per side. I wanted “Hong Kong Egg Noodles” but the Asian market I go to was out. I used “Chow Mein Noodles” and they worked fine. They need to be flour noodles and very thin. The noodles are sold fresh sometimes or dried. I bought Shaoxing wine when I was at the Asian market, because almost every Chinese recipe calls for it, but if you don’t have it, Dry Sherry will work.
Cantonese Pan-Fried Noodles
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon shaoxing wine (or Dry Sherry)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
8 oz. Hong Kong Egg Noodles, can be fresh or dried
3 tablespoons oil (preferably avocado or peanut)
1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Rinse the bean sprouts in cold water and drain. Julienne the scallions, separating the white from the green parts. Mix the soy sauces, sesame oil, salt, sugar, wine and white pepper into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Boil the noodles. Fresh noodles should be boiled for about 1 minute. For dried noodles, boil for 2-3 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain very well. The drier they are the more they will crisp up.
3. Heat a wok over high heat until screaming hot and add a tablespoon of oil to coat the wok (a large non-stick pan also works nicely). Be careful here, if the noodles are still wet you will get hot spattering. Spread the noodles in a thin, even layer on the wok and tilt the wok in a circular motion to distribute the oil and crisp the bottom layer of the noodles evenly. It should take about 3-5 minutes for the first side. Leave them alone while they are cooking.
4. Flip the noodles over and add another tablespoon of oil around the perimeter of the wok and let the other side crisp up. Don’t stress if you can’t turn the noodles over in one shot, The goal here is just to get an even, light crispiness and to dry out the noodles during this cooking stage. Set aside the noodles on a plate.
5. Heat the wok over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and all of the white parts of the scallion to the pan and cook for about 15 seconds. Next, add the noodles to the wok and toss them well, breaking up the noodles so they’re not all in one big clump. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss continuously for a couple minutes using a pair of chopsticks or a set of tongs. Keep the heat on high.
6. After the noodles are uniformly golden brown, add the bean sprouts and toss. Add the rest of the scallions and toss the mixture again for another 1 to 2 minutes until you see the bean sprouts just starting to turn transparent. You want the sprouts to be cooked but still crunchy. Be careful not to overcook them or they will become limp and soggy. High heat is a key requirement for this dish.
7. Plate and serve!