Singapore-style noodles

Last week I bought an iron wok, and I decided to try it out today with Singapore-style noodles. I get a craving for them sometimes, so fortunately they’re easy to make.

I’ve wanted an iron for some time, as the wok I had until now is a “Japanese wok,” meaning it has a teflon coating and a flat bottom that sits nicely on my stovetop. This is all well and good, but the flat bottom somewhat violates the point of a wok — it cooks like a large frying pan, as stuff burns to the flat bottom (teflon and all) while the sides are left uncooked.

Like all fine iron cookware, my new wok needed to be seasoned. I figured I’d go by the instructions on the packaging, which sounded simple enough. You start by washing off the special anti-rust coating, and then put it on a flame to dry. So I soaped down the wok and stuck it on the flame.

And that’s where the trouble began. Almost immediately, my kitchen smelled of burnt plastic. Apparently I hadn’t even scratched the anti-rust coating, and now I’d essentially burnt it to the wok. So I started scrubbing. First with my kitchen sponge, then with a plastic abrasive and finally with steel wool. In fact, when my coffee date called to cancel, I was relieved, because I was still busy scrubbing. An hour later, I’d managed to remove most of the damned anti-rust coating. Next time, I think I’d prefer a rusty wok.

In any case, after all I went through to prepare the wok for use, including a perfunctory seasoning, the noodles themselves were a snap — 10 minutes from start to finish. I’d put a bag of bean thread noodles in water to soak before I started, and that hour did them well.

And yes, the wok cooks wonderfully.

For 4-6 servings:
250 grams (one package) dry bean thread noodles
250 grams tofu
2 eggs
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 carrot
1/4 cabbage (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 to 3/4 T curry powder (depending how spicy you want it)
optional: fish sauce, lemon and/or fresh cilantro for topping

Submerge the noodles in water about an hour before you plan to begin cooking. Chop all the vegetables into thin strips, and cube the tofu. (I didn’t add garlic, but a few cloves would be a good addition.) Crack the eggs into a bowl, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in your wok, and pour in the eggs. They should start looking nice and fluffy; give them a few stirs.

When the eggs have solidified, add the tofu, followed shortly by all the vegetables. After a minute or two, once they’ve begun to cook, pull all the noodles out of the water and dump them into the wok. The noodles will be quite stiff at first, but stir them in, they’ll begin to soften. Add the soy sauce and curry powder; the liquid from the soy sauce will help things along. Once the noodles are soft enough to eat, turn off the flame. Add any of the optional ingredients. Eat.

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