Food + Wine

UN-CAN-NY CRISPY NOODLES

You know those cans of crispy noodles you can buy at the store and use to top salads or other noodley things? You usually have your choice between ‘chow mein’ style, or maybe it just says ‘rice noodles’ or ‘Asian style crunchy noodles’, but it’s an airtight can generally found somewhere on the ‘international’ aisle. Well, I grew up with a salad that called for those in it and it’s a very nostalgic dish for me, but I don’t always keep those things around… and I certainly don’t make that salad enough to allow a can to stay fresh (they do stale up quite quickly). So, I have figured out a way around this extremely serious world problem.

The other day, after coming home from out of town and being very, very tired, I was trying to figure out what groceries we had to make a meal and that particular salad came to mind. Not having a can of those noodly things on hand, and being under medical orders to stay home and rest (too complicated to get into now, yet imperative enough to the story to mention), I decided the smartest thing for me to do while resting is to make my own.

Which shows you precisely how my brain works.

It felt like less work somehow, and more rest-y to not get in my car and leisurely walk into a store for one item, and instead to mind-construct an at-home version of those noodly things and then stand on my feet while executing it.

I mean, I guess it all fits within the whole theme of this site, but it still makes me laugh every time I’m inside one of those moments and can still realize how ridiculous it is on paper.

So now I get to share what I did with you… which is actually quite rest-y, as a matter of fact. (balance?)

I used a package of ramen from my pantry; the kind with the seasoning packet inside, and just threw away the packet. But you could use 3 ounces of any thin wheat noodle. I particularly enjoy the curly Q style you get with the pack of ramen… but going out to buy a pack of ramen to throw away the seasoning packet and make your own crispy noodles sort of defeats the purpose here a bit, yeah? Just use what you have! And if what you have are rice noodles, use those! The thinner the better.

It was very simple, felt like a real grown-up accomplishment, and they were 400% tastier than the canned version… even if my version of resting does not at all match with the actual real version of resting.

I still call it a win.

Homemade Crispy Noodles ( chow mein style )

makes enough to garnish 4-6 salads
  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
  • Salt liberally as you would in any normal pasta boiling process.
  • Drizzle a bit of vegetable oil into the water.
  • Drop 3 ounces of dried noodles (1 pack of ramen without the packet, or 3 ounces of any other thin cut dry noodle) and cook for 2 minutes (if you’re using a thicker noodle, you may need longer, but you want a solid al-dente here).
  • Strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and rinse off any excess starch.
  • Lay out to cool and dry on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  • Once completely cooled, sprinkle the noodles liberally with cornstarch and toss to evenly coat.
  • Pour enough vegetable oil in a wide pot to come up the sides about 2 inches. (I will always opt to shallow fry instead of deep fry for many reasons. This is as much oil as you need to cook these properly, but you are always free to use more!)
  • Heat on medium-high heat until the oil is hot – 350-575 degrees if you have a candy thermometer. Or you can test it by dropping a noodle in and see if it starts to sizzle and turn golden brown. If nothing happens but a floating noodle, it’s not hot enough. If it turns dark real fast, it’s too hot and you need to turn down the heat, wait, and test again.
  • The noodles take about 3 minutes total. Use a spider to move them around a bit while they’re frying to make sure they’re evenly crisping.
  • Once they’re an attractive golden brown, remove them and place onto a paper towel lined surface (I just tossed the parchment from my original pan and replaced it with paper towels).
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle and use right away, or store in an airtight container and use up to 5 days later for optimum freshness.

And please do steal a snack for yourself. As good as they are after they cool, and even days later… they are their very best directly after rescuing from the pan.

I will not promise I will rest now because I truly do not think I know what that word means, but I do promise I will rest in ways that make me feel like what I am doing is resting.

thanks for reading, ya’ll. much love x

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