Every time I come home on a college break, the first thing that always happens is either my Mom, Dad, or Grandma asks me if I’m hungry. Before I can give an answer or even if I say no, there’s something delicious sitting in front of me just waiting to be devoured. My Dad always asks me if I ever get fed at school since I scarf down everything with such ravenous hunger and can be found eating cold leftovers out of the open fridge with my fingers. How can they blame me when I’m deprived of such home-cooked Chinese food at school? This winter break, I came home exhausted from a week of finals and my Mom handed me a bowl of hot noodles with Chinese broccoli—the bowl was emptied in just a few enormous bites and I promptly took a very much needed nap.
For your very own bowl of home-cooked Chinese goodness, try the rice noodles with Chinese broccoli and shiitake mushrooms recipe from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. I’ve loved shiitake mushrooms since I was a kid, even before my Grandma told me that I’d be smarter if I ate more (one of many old wives’ tales I was told back then). The recipe suggests choy sum as an alternative to Chinese broccoli, which is another childhood favorite of mine due to the novelty of eating yellow flowers on my veggies. Along with the red pepper flakes, I always squiggle on some Sriracha for good measure. Ingredient lists for Asian dishes can be intimidating sometimes, but I’ve found that once you accumulate the various bottles of sauces in your pantry and become familiar with the ratios that produce the flavors you like best, it’s really not all that daunting.
- 8 ounces wide (about 3/8 inche) or other rice noodles
- 12 ounces Chinese broccoli (also called gai lan), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce (also called nam pla)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar (not seasoned)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger, or more to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
- 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- Crushed red pepper flakes, for sprinkling (optional)
- Sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
- Coarse salt, for spirnkling (optional)
Cover the noodles with very hot water in a large bowl, and let soak 30 minutes. Drain the noodles, and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli; cook until crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain; set aside.
Stir together the tamari, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and stock in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet or a wok over medium heat until but not smoking. Add the ginger, garlic, and mushroom caps; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the tamari mixture to the skillet; bring to a simmer over high heat. Stir in the cornstarch mixture , and simmer 2 minutes. Add the reserved noodles and broccoli, along with the scallions, and toss to coat. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and toss again. Serve with red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and salt for sprinkling, if desired.