Let’s Cook! Drunken Noodles
February 8, 2014
As a Good Southern Boy, for pretty much every New Years I’ve had black-eyed peas and greens in some form or another for good luck and prosperity in the coming year… I departed a bit from that format this year (and you’ll see one of the New Years Day dishes in an upcoming post), so when Chinese New Year rolled around I figured it sure couldn’t hurt to try some of the traditional Good Luck foodstuffs associated with that holiday…
Over at steamy kitchen the Culinary Goddess Jaden Hair put up a fun post titled “Chinese New Year 2014: What to eat if you want a raise!” enumerating many of the foods eaten during the new year celebration and what type of good fortune they symbolize. Since currently getting a raise is off the table for yours truly, I thought I’d make an old favorite recipe containing long strands of noodles which represent longevity, and that recipe is (as you probably have figured out already) Drunken Noodles.
Despite the name, Drunken Noodles doesn’t contain a drop of booze (unless you happen to be drinking while you’re cooking and spill some in the wok), but the name reputedly comes from how much you have to drink to tame the heat in this pepper-filled dish!
I’ll buy that story, but I could also see it as coming from this being a great “Drunk Food” to be eaten after a long night out on the town – I’m visualizing a Chinese version of Waffle House at 3 AM on a weekend filled with those that may have over-indulged that night trying to soak up the extra alcohol with copious amounts of Asian pasta. I could also believe that this would be a good “Morning After” food with the heat and noodles soothing the pounding head of someone regretting the delayed effects of too much alcohol… whatever the real origin of this dishes’ moniker, it’s one of my favorite spicy recipes!
So now, as always, let’s get into the kitchen and Let’s Cook!
Okay, before we actually get into the kitchen you may need to make a trip to the Asian market (or your favorite virtual equivalent thereof) as a couple of the ingredients below you probably won’t find in your local market, but nothing is too expensive, and I think worth the trip just for this dish alone.
1 14 oz Package 1/4″ Wide Flat Rice Noodles (from the Asian Market, you can use most any other noodle/pasta you have on hand if you really must)
1/4 cup Canola or Peanut Oil
6 – 8 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
2 Tbl (or more if you dare) Chopped Fresh Thai Chilies (about 8-10 Chilies)
3/4 Lb Ground Chicken (or Turkey)
3 Tbl Fish Sauce (from the Asian market, or at most big supermarkets)
3 Tbl Black Soy Sauce (a thick, sweetened soy, yeah, from the Asian Market too…)
3 Tbl Golden Mountain Sauce (a seasoned soy sauce, you probably know by now where to find this…)
2 Tsp Sugar
3 Plum Tomatoes, each cut into 6 or 8 wedges
1/2 – 3/4 Lb Anaheim Chilies, cut into strips (or use any other fairly mild fresh peppers – this time I used a combo of Cubanelle and Hungarian Wax – you can also use bell peppers, but as these are added just at the end of cooking, I prefer as thin-walled pepper as you can find)
1/3 – 1/2 Cup Fresh Thai Basil Leaves (or regular Basil, torn or chopped into pieces if the leaves are large)
Be sure you have all your veg chopped and ready to go. Then stir the fish, black soy and Golden Mountain sauces together in a bowl and add the sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.
Next prepare your noodles – put the rice noodles into a big bowl and cover with boiling water.
You’ll want them just barely tender but firm when bitten as they will cook a bit more when added to the sauce – stir around a couple of times while soaking and start checking them after 7-8 minutes, they may take 10 or more. Drain them when done. If using any other type of pasta, prep appropriately until fairly firm (or whatever the Chinese equivalent of al dente is…).
While the noodles are soaking, heat the oil in a wok or other large pot over med-high.
Add the garlic and Thai chilies and stir-fry about 30 seconds, be careful to keep them moving and don’t burn the garlic.
Add the ground meat and stir around a bit until the meat is broken up into pieces and starting to cook, maybe another minute or so.
Add the sauce ingredients and continue to stir and cook until the meat is done, another 2 or 3 minutes should do.
Add the drained noodles, tomatoes and peppers and mix well.
The noodles will absorb much of the sauce and the peppers will lightly cook as you mix everything together. Transfer to a large serving platter or bowl and sprinkle all over with the basil (if you’re cutting/tearing the basil into smaller pieces, wait until the last second to do this or they can look bruised and turn brown in places, like some in the picture… consider this a lesson to you…).
There are plenty of variations of this dish you can find on the Interwebs, but honestly I like this so much I’ve never tried any others! This is based on a recipe that originally was published in the September 2005 edition of Bon Appetit magazine.
You can certainly play with this as you like: more or less hot fresh chile, add something like Sriracha on individual servings for extra heat, add extra veggies if you like (thin sliced broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, etc.), and yes you can make this a veggie-only dish if you’d like… you can coarsely chop up some mushrooms and cook those in place of the ground meat for a “meaty” texture to the dish…
I really love this recipe – I have to be careful not to stuff myself and make myself sick from eating so much! I hope you give it a try and let everyone know what you think!
Now that I’ve got the long life taken care of with this dish, I guess I better cook up something for some prosperity to get me thru those many upcoming years, so it’s back to the kitchen!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!