Quick and easy improvised sides: Asian Stir Fried Noodles with Cashews

by Terry B on January 20, 2010

Quickly stir frying pre-cooked noodles with a variety of flavorings—in this case, shallots, green onions, roasted cashews, soy sauce and mirin—takes them from bland backdrop to exciting side dish. Recipe and variations below.

udon-with-cashews

These noodles weren’t meant to be posted. I just needed a quick side for the Chinese Pork Tenderloin I was serving, something a little more interesting than the usual steamed white rice. But then they turned out so well. Even better, they were quick and easy to make and open to endless variations. So here they are.

I kept my dish simple—udon noodles, shallots, green onions, toasted cashews, oil, soy sauce and mirin [a sweet, low-alcohol Japanese cooking wine—you could also use sherry]. I didn’t want the noodles to overpower the tenderloin. Toasted pine nuts would be a fine substitute for the cashews.

You could also change this dish completely, adding a little heat, for instance, with cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes or hot chili oil. Using different flavorings—hoisin sauce and fish sauce are a couple I saw mentioned when exploring recipes. You could add more vegetables or even meat, seafood or tofu and turn it into a main course. All using the same basic technique.

Here’s how I cooked this dish. Feel free to improvise.

Asian Stir Fried Noodles with Cashews
Serves 4

1 to 2 cups raw cashews
12 ounces uncooked udon noodles [see Kitchen Notes for substitutes]
1 medium shallot, sliced
3 green onions, white parts sliced, green tops sliced and reserved
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus a little extra
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin [or sherry]

Roast the cashews. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread cashews in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the cashews 10 minutes or so, stirring once or twice, until they are golden brown. Watch carefully. They burn easily. [You'll only use about a cup of the cashews in this dish, but roast 2 cups—roasting a single cup is silly. Snack on the rest.]

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water, 2 to 3 minutes less than package directions suggest. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking—they’ll cook more when you stir fry them. Drain completely. If you’re not ready to fry them, gently toss with a little canola oil.

Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add oil, shallot and white parts of green onions and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of the roasted cashews and cook an additional minute, continuing to stir. Add noodles and gently toss to coat with oil. Add soy sauce and mirin, toss to combine and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until noodles are heated through and beginning to color.

Either plate individual portions of noodles or transfer to a platter. In either case, much of the cashews, shallots and green onions will remain in the skillet or wok as you plate the noodles. Spoon them over the noodles and sprinkle with the green onion tops. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

Udon noodle substitutes. These thick white noodles are often used in Japanese cuisine and can be found in Asian stores and some grocery stores. Often they are flat, as the ones I used in this recipe. For that reason, I would substitute linguine or fettuccine if you can’t find them. Spaghetti will also work.

The department of redundancy department. I really didn’t intend to post this recipe. That’s why the photo looks so similar to the Chinese Pork Tenderloin photo in the post above it. I was in the middle of shooting that shot when I took a sample bite of the noodles. I decided right then that the recipe deserved its own post. I could have replated them to give them their own look, but it was late, and I was hungry. So I rotated the plate, fired off a single shot and ate. Sorry, readers. I’ll try harder next time.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa January 20, 2010 at 2:50 am

Who can blame a man for being hungry? They look great. We should be lucky we got such a picture at all :)

Dani H January 20, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Thanks for taking the time to photograph the noodles before devouring them, Terry. A man of fortitude with true devotion to your readers. ;-)

Terry B January 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

You know, Melissa and Dani, I was kind of joking, but only sort of. As my long suffering family will tell you, my meals almost always take longer to prepare than I expect them to. And when I’m posting something, I have to photograph it. At least I plate food for Marion and anyone else eating with us before I do my photo, so they can eat it while it’s still hot. But virtually everything you see in the photos is my eventual plate of food, and it’s almost invariably eaten merely warm or even at room temperature, depending on how long it takes me to get the shot.

Nadia January 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Looks divine! I will definitely be trying this out. I totally understand what you mean about taking food shots. My husband is like, “enough already, I’m hungry”! hehe :)

Terry B January 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Very funny, Nadia! That’s why I now plate Marion’s dinner before doing the photo whenever possible, even though she’s wonderfully patient about it. I don’t want everyone to have to eat lukewarm food.

kitty January 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm

ha, these noodles look so good. I am a noodle freak, I’m not sure why. I cannot resist a noodle, especially rice noodles. There will be a big plate in front of me, then it will be a big empty plate.

The fresh shallot/scallion is always a nice touch. And putting things in there, like sauted chicken or even ground beef or pork. I am salivating!!

Terry B January 26, 2010 at 1:54 am

Thanks, Kitty! Adding meat as you suggest would make this a delicious complete meal.

Jessie February 19, 2010 at 12:17 am

The dish looks delicious; I can’t wait to make it. Any combination of noodles, shallots and scallions should be tasty in my book. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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