Toddler & Young Children, Family Dinners, Only Grown Ups
Another firm Chez Foti family favourite! Both kids love their noodles, or rather ‘wriggly worms’ in our house, as much as we do. A very quick, easy and satisfying dinner that injects a fair amount of lovely veggies into little tums, and you can’t say much fairer than that!. In truth I’ve steered clear of blogging Chinese style recipes for their lack of authenticity, but have decided to occasionally blog my Western stylie family versions as they’re so much enjoyed at Chez Foti. Purests, you’ve been warned!
You really can use an almighty array of veggies in stir fries, use whatever’s in season or you happen to have in. Before growing my own I tended to make Chinese style food with the usual carrots, peppers, broccoli florets, peas, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, mushrooms etc. Once I had my own ready supply of veggies in the garden I soon realised that you really can use almost any veggies in Chinese cookery, or Indian or Thai. As well as the usual suspects above I’ve very successfully cooked with swiss chard, spinach, aubergines, courgettes, asparagus, french and other green beans, broad beans, cauliflower, squash & pumpkin, kale, celery, leeks, sprouts, sweet potatoes, parsnips, beetroot, swede…..I think you’re getting the idea. Vary the cooking time and size of dice accordingly. Anything woody and hard, like a carrot, parsnip or swede should be cut a little finer than other veggies and/or cooked for a little longer. Leafier veggies like spinach, chard leaves or pak choi cook down very quickly and should be added towards the end of the cooking time.
So tonights noodles were made with handfuls of my ‘veg of the month’ Swiss Chard, a red pepper and a courgette. A couple of my swiss chard plants from last year are back in full glory now (though about to go to seed) and producing an abundance of wonderful leaves. I also planted a whole new row a few weeks ago and these babies are almost ready for the eating too. Chard is a wonderful veg to grow, minimum effort for maximum and very quick return, and the plants can last up to a staggering eighteen months. It’s such a versatile veg too, great in an assortment of Asian curries and stir fries, stews, casseroles and pasta dishes.
You can happily swap the pork for beef, chicken or prawns, or omit altogether for a veggie dinner. My kids like a touch of chilli in their food, but leave out if you or yours don’t. If making for adults only you might want to increase the amount of chilli, fish, oyster and soy sauce, I try to keep my salt levels as low as possible when cooking for kids.
Enough for four:
2 tablespoons of sunflower or groundnut oil
a heaped tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
a dried birds eye chilli, finely chopped, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
a red pepper, cut into thin strips (about an inch long)
a courgette, cut into thin strips (about an inch long)
200g of swiss chard leaves and stalks, stalks removed and both leaves and stalks shredded separately
300g of pork loin or fillet, cut into thin strips (about an inch long, the same as the veggies)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
200g of medium egg noodles, cooked to packet instructions and cooled
a teaspoon of fish sauce
2 dessertspoons of dark soy sauce
2 heaped tablespoons of oyster sauce
100ml of hot chicken stock
Heat the oil on a hot heat, in a large high sided frying pan or preferably a wok. Throw in the ginger, chilli, onion and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring briskly and almost continuously.
Add the courgette, pork strips, shredded chard stems and garlic. Stir regularly and cook on a high heat until the veggies are almost tender. This should be about 4 to 5 minutes. If the pan is very dry add a splash of water rather than more oil.
Stir in the shredded chard leaves, cooked noodles, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce and hot stock. Keep on the heat until the chard has wilted and the noodles are piping hot. Have a taste and add a little more oyster and soy sauce if you think it needs it, though it’s not advisable to add any more if cooking for little children.