Oodles of Noodles

When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northern China,
wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forget Japan here) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.

Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff. For those of you that don’t eat shell fish you can always substitute chicken or fish.


1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds


In a large
salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar,
sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to
coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot,
celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving.
Serves 8.



2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)


3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil


In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook
for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL



For sauce

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces

8 cups shredded Napa cabbage

6 green onions, thinly sliced

8 to 9 ounces soba

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds


In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the
oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.


While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.



Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy, 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.


Submitted byTony Easteron River GroveIL


1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts


In a large
bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil,
Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to
the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little
crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture
sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained
pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add
the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water
and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm.
Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled



8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews


Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it
aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making
sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1
tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and
saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red
pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime
juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion
mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables
to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before
serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the
pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.



1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages  flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced


In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine
and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan
bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles
into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1
minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the
soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.
Serves 4.


Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ



3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half or talapia cut into pieces

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

Modified from about.com




What the Heck is Bok Choy?

Sometimes I get bored of the same old vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love peas and green beans and celery and asparagus and all the other likely veggie suspects. But how many times can I roast cauliflower or steam broccoli or green beans before I run out of ways to dress them, sauce them over or fricassee them and not feel like I’m rewind mode? That’s the moment I start looking for the fun veggies that make my family sit up and take notice and say, “what the heck is this stuff?” One of my absolute favorite, guess what this is vegetables, is bok choy.

          Bok choy is a dark leafy green cabbage family generally associated with oriental recipes often found in soups, stir fries and as a steamed side dish. Bok choy is chock full of vitamins A and C and calcium and delicious. Hummm, remind me again why I don’t use it as often as I could or should.  

Bok choy is pretty much available year around.  You should look for firm stalks and pass up any with brown spots. When you’re getting ready to use it cut off most of the base of the stalks before washing it so that the dirt that collects between the stalks can be thoroughly washed away. Some people like to separate the stalks from the leaves before they cook it because the thicker stalks have a longer cooking time than the leaves. If the stalk isn’t cooked whole, bok choy is typically shredded because it’s quicker to cook if cut into smaller pieces. Whichever cooking method you choose, be sure not to overcook the bok choy, the stalks should cooked to be just tender and the leaves should be just wilted.
         Bok choy pares well most oriental flavors and is especially tasty with soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. With its subtle flavor and crispy texture, bok choy can be used as a substitute for cabbage in most dishes. It’s equally delicious raw, steamed or stir fried and its inexpensive so that it’s a perfect fit for every budget.



1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider or rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

6 cups bok choy, shredded

2 cups red cabbage, shredded

1 red onion, sliced thin

2 10 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

2 avocados slice and chopped

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 to 2 packages Ramen noodles, crushed (discard the seasoning packets or save for later)

In a bowl combine the oil, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a bowl combine the bok choy, cabbage, onion, oranges and avocado.  Toss to combine. Pour the dressing over salad and toss to combine. Top with the almonds and ramen noodles. Toss to combine. Serves 6

Submitted by Allison Garrison Chicago IL


4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, grilled, cut into bite sized pieces (or leftover chicken)

1/3 cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 lb pea pods, cut in half diagonally, blanched

1 lb bok choy, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half, seeded and sliced thin

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 cup garbanzo beans

3 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup rice noodles or chow mien noodles

 In a large bowl combine the chicken, parsley, cabbage, green onions, peas pods bok choy, cucumber, red pepper and garbanzo beans. Mix to combine. In another bowl combine the vinegar, oils, ginger and peanut butter. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper. If the dressing is too thick add a little more vinegar. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Top with the rice noodles. Serves 4 to 6.


1 pound  steak

1 pound bok choy (3 cups sliced)

10 green onions, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Dash or two of hot sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger, divided

2 cups red bell peppers, sliced

Crispy Noodle Cake

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

3/4 pound angel-hair pasta or thin noodles

2 teaspoons oil


1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Crispy Noodle Cake: Preheat boiler. Line a baking tray with foil and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles. As soon as water returns to a boil, drain noodles and rinse under cold water. Shake dry and spread out evenly on the baking tray. Sprinkle oil over noodles and spray with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Place noodles on the middle rack of the oven. Keep an eye on them as you prepare the beef. When noodles are crisp, after about 10 minutes, remove and flip onto other side. Spray with oil again and return to broiler for another 5 minutes. To serve, cut noodles into 4 portions with sharp scissors or a knife and transfer to individual plates. Cut each cake into 2-inch squares. Spoon beef, vegetables and sauce on top.

Helpful Hint: The noodles will need to be turned. The easiest way to do this is to loosen them on the tray all around the edges, cut into 4 sections and, with a spatula, flip each section.

For sauce: Mix all ingredients together.

For beef and bok choy: Remove fat from beef. Slice into 1/2-inch-wide strips 2 to 3 inches long. Wash and dry bok choy. Slice on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Slice scallions on the diagonal.

Heat wok and add oil. Add half the garlic and half the ginger and fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add the bok choy, green onions and peppers and stir-fry until wilted but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Remove to a warm serving plate. Add remaining garlic and ginger to wok and stir-fry until golden, about 30 seconds. Add beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove to plate with vegetables. Add the sauce and hot sauce to wok and stir to prevent lumping. Heat until sauce bubbles. Add vegetables and beef to sauce and toss several times. Remove wok from heat. Spoon over noodles and serve immediately.

Modified from Dinner in Minutes by Linda Gassenheimer


1 cup vegetable or pareve chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 lb. linguini noodles, cooked according to the package instructions, drained

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 1/2 lb mock crab

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onion

1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

In small bowl combine the broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch; set aside. Heat the oil in a wok and add the broccoli, and red bell pepper and cook stirring constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mock crab, bok choy, mushrooms, green onions, water chestnuts and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 or minutes or until the mock crab is hot but the vegetables are still crisp tender. Stir soy sauce mixture into the vegetable mixing to coat. Cooking, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the cooked noodles and toss to coat. Serves 4

Modified from about.com



2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper


1 (3-ounce) package ramen noodles

1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

3 cups thinly sliced bok choy

1 cup very thin red bell pepper strips

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup diagonally cut green onions

To prepare dressing, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

To prepare the salad, crumble noodles; discard seasoning packet. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanuts; saute for 4 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat. Combine crumbled noodles, peanuts, bok choy, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2001


1 cup quoina

2 cups of chicken broth

2 portabella mushrooms, chopped

2 tablespoons oil

1/3 to 1/2 lb turkey pastrami, chopped

2 cups sliced bok choy

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook the quinoa in the chicken stock according to the directions on the package and cool slightly. Place it in a large bowl. In a skillet cook garlic and red onion together in the oil until the onion is soft. Add the bok choy and cook 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and turkey pastrami and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the mixture to the quinoa.  Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish. Serve hot or cold.

Submitted by Claire Louise Smart Bloomington IN