Looking for a midweek meal that ticks all the flavour boxes and is ready in minutes? Spicy peanut noodles are all that and packed with vegetables too. Who says stir fry is a flash in the pan?
For the perfect starter with this meal, try Crispy Air Fryer Tofu Bites!
A noodle stir fry is a big family favourite, especially if you’re the short-on-time cook. From getting your wok out to plunging your chopsticks into a pile of noodles, you can do it in under 20 minutes.
This recipe is busy with oozy peanut sauce, soft egg noodles and crunchy carrots. It’s just the right side of spicy, and hilariously messy if you forego your fork and dive in Chinese style. Fortune cookies, optional.
Which noodles to use
I go for egg noodles in this recipe, for me peanut and egg sum up travelling in South East Asia. But there are a lot of noodle options out there! So here’s a quick rundown of the most popular for a stir fry:
- In the top spot egg noodles. Thin, curly and pale yellow, these frizzy strands bring a forceful flavour.
- Next, buckwheat soba noodles. Long, thin and earthy brown. They’re a bit nutty, not as sweet as their eggy brothers.
- Japanese Udon are the big guys. Thick and chewy. Personally, I love them in a noodle soup but not in my stir fry.
- Spaghetti. It’s a store cupboard staple and a solid substitute. Yes, you can use spaghetti, or linguine in your stir fry. We’ve all done it! Made from durum wheat they are familiar favourite.
- Coming in last, rice noodles. Gloriously ghostly in colour and delicate in flavour, they can be thin or thick and flat. And the only gluten-free contender. But bear in mind, their flavour is no match for the mighty peanut in this one! FYI glass noodles are also GF, but their tender nature don’t work for me in a stir fry.
The sauce recipe
If you’re a fan of Asian cooking, you’ll know about the ‘five tastes’ already and know how to balance them to your family’s palate. If you’re new to the principle, it’s simple, and this peanut sauce recipe is the perfect place to learn.
The ‘tastes’ and their recipe representatives are sweet (sugar), salty (soy sauce), sour (rice vinegar), spicy (chilli flakes) and bitter (garlic – in the main ingredients!). You can tweak the tastes to bring your favourite to the forefront. In my house, we like it spicy, so I’m not afraid to use the chilli flakes!
Add these to smooth peanut butter and you have peanut sauce! It really is that easy.
Vegetables for stir fry
One of the great advantages of a classic noodle stir fry is you can use up all the veggie odds and ends in the fridge. I love a crunchy stir fry, so I tend to stick to carrots and cabbage but leave out the mushrooms and broccoli.
But anything goes; baby corn, peppers, sugar snap peas, or bok choy (also known as pak choi), all of which will make for a colourful dish.
Recipe tips and notes
- Like I said earlier, it’s done in a flash. So have all your ingredients sliced, diced and ready to throw in.
- And I mean your sauce too. Prepare it before you fire up the wok.
- I’ve used Chinese cabbage as it cooks quickly. Most large supermarkets stock it, but you can substitute for white cabbage if that’s what available. Just slice it super fine so it cooks evenly.
Leftovers and storage
Leftover stir fry can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, just chuck it all back in the pan with a little oil. It’s even quicker the second time around!
This dish is not a great freezer. Soggy noodles and slightly mushy veg. You’ve been warned.
- 250g/9oz medium egg noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 head Chinese cabbage sliced (3 cups)
- 1 carrot, julienned (1 cup)
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or white sugar
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon Chinese Shaohsing cooking wine or 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½-1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 2 tablespoon hot water
- 2-3 green onions
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Mix the peanut butter, sugar, sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, chilli flakes and hot water. Set aside till needed.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a large pan, add the grated ginger and minced garlic and stir fry for a few seconds, then add the carrots and cabbage and stir fry over high heat for 5 minutes until the vegetables are slightly browned but still retain their bites.
- Add the noodles and the sauce along with the green onions, stir to coat. Taste and add more salt if needed and a dash of sesame oil. Serve with sesame seeds, sliced green onions and Chinese chilli oil on the side.
Rinsing the noodles in cold water keeps them from sticking together and stops them from cooking further.