Usually, when I make my pan fried noodles I serve them with a well sauced stir-fry. Today, I am making char siu, a dry barbecued pork. The noodles on their own would be too dry to eat, I would have to add some kind of moist sauce.
I use sesame oil to keep the noodles from clumping together before I fry them. Enhancing this flavor with a sesame sauce seemed a natural way to go. A bit of green onion and a sprinkle of black sesame for the color will make the dish an attractive and independent side dish.
Karl’s Pan Fried Sesame Noodles
1-2 lbs. Korean fresh noodles (udon)
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
¼ cup peanut oil, separate uses
1 Tbs. peanut oil
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. sesame paste (tahini)
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. shao xing rice wine
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated finely
2+ Tbs. water
2 Green onions, sliced finely
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1. Fresh noodles are sold in 16 inches long bunches, folded in half. Open up each bunch and break them in half.
Note: I prefer to use Korean style udon, which is a thick and chewy noodle. It is usually sold in trays of four half pound bunches. Figure one quarter of a pound of uncooked noodles per person. Remember you may want some pan fried noodles left over to snack on later.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for three to four minutes. If the pot threatens to boil over add ½ cup of cold water.
Tip: Take a noodle from the pot and cut it in half. If there is still a little white spot in the center of the noodle it is not quite done.
3. Remove the noodles to a colander and run cold water over the noodles to keep them from over cooking.
Tip: Reserve a quarter cup of the boiling water and add as much as necessary to thin the sauce.
4. Pour the sesame oil over the noodles and toss to coat. Set aside.
Tip: The cooked noodles fry more easily if they have had some time to dry out a bit.
5. “Fluff” the noodles, so that they are not a solid mass.
6. Pour a tablespoon of peanut oil in a large non-stick sauté pan and place it over a medium high heat. When it oil is hot, add enough noodles to cover the pan in a layer about half an inch thick. Shake the pan to make sure that the noodles are not sticking.
7. When the noodles have set into a mass and are starting to brown on the bottom, flip the pancake and shake the pan to distribute the remaining oil.
Tip: This is the most difficult step in this recipe to get right. There are many factors that affect how your pancake comes out (the idiosyncrasies of your stove’s heating element; any rough spot on your pan that will cause it to stick; not enough oil; too high a heat; too low a heat; how you hold your mouth while you’re cooking it). Ideally, you want your pancake to be an even crispy golden brown on the outside and soft chewy goodness on the inside.
8. When your first pancake is done slide it onto a baking sheet and place it in the over to keep warm (about 180° F).
9. Repeat steps 12 and 13 until all of your noodles are fried and in the oven.
Tip: The number of pancakes you will have depends on your quantity of noodles, the size of your pan and the thickness of your pancakes. If you prefer less crispy noodles (or you are impatient) you may make each pancake thicker than half an inch.
10. Add the peanut oil to a small pot and fry the garlic until fragrant, about one minute over medium high heat.
11. Add the sesame paste, soy sauce, shao xing, ginger, and water. Boil the mixture, stirring, for one minute and then remove it from the heat.
12. Break the noodle pancakes up into the pot you boiled them in.
Tip: You do not need to separate then pancakes into seperate noodles, just break them up enough that they are not huge clumps.
13. Stir the sesame sauce and most of the green onions into the noodles and toss to coat.
14. Transfer the noodles to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining green onions and black sesame seeds.