The noodle and the damage done

You look for any innovation that satisfies while cooking. Most Sunday mornings I improvise some slightly new way to do scrambled eggs and I feel like a jazz pianist. This morning, since you ask: I curried them with cumin seeds, turmeric, chilli and green beans, which felt like the sort of protein-rich breakfast an Instagram wellness influencer would have, hashtag #wellness #selfcare #nutrition #healthyliving #selflove. (I had a sausage with it.)

But now I’ve cracked the whole cooking game wide open. I am happy to announce that I have invented what I call the “stir” “fry”, a meal composed entirely of – and this is the clever bit – things you have fried while stirring. The stirring is key, because otherwise the things will burn. This is my ticket to the big time, and it’s going to be the full Sky HD package and handjobs off dead-eyed Russian prostitutes from here on in.


I’ve got some leftover roast pork to use up, bits of which are quite fatty and should get nice and golden in the wok. The wok is pretty well seasoned by now after a couple of years’ stewardship: you can tell by the satisfying ringing sound it makes when struck with a wooden spoon. (This is a wholly unscientific test of a wok’s seasoning; I would even go so far as to say that I have just made it up and it is entirely untrue, and yet it sounds like the sort of thing that might be true, and if Ken Hom had said it you’d be drumming on woks every visit to Lakeland like Keith Moon and you know it, so shut up.) It is happy to have its big concave face coated in vegetable oil, and receptive to the chilli, broccoli, shredded cabbage and mushrooms I shove in it.

Garlic: I had a go at that instant peel technique off Twitter just like you did, with probably about as much success. Stick to what you know, I say, as I cut off the root edges and peel the skin off in bits with my fingers like a mug. Ginger too: straight out of the freezer and grated in. This is a game-changing kitchen hack I’ve discovered that mitigates against the absolute inevitability of buying ginger, using a bit for one meal then pulling it out of the vegetable drawer two weeks later sour and unloved, fit for the bin no matter how much I tell myself there’s a good bit still left in the middle if I cut it down far enough.

If you’re here for actual cooking advice here’s your takeaway, you big freak: when you add liquid to a stir fry, or to anything you’re frying really, it stops it frying. Therefore, make sure everything’s coloured to your liking before you do, because once it’s in there, you’re just boiling and/or steaming. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is not frying. So once the pork and the noodles have gone in for a short while I’m adding some soy and some white wine vinegar, which will flavour it up as well as glaze the wok nicely, and let me scrape some of the bits off. I bowl it up and give it a bit of sweet chilli sauce for good measure.

This can’t be it, you’ll be thinking. He can’t have just fried and stirred some things and called that a meal. Well I’m here to tell you I have, and so could you. I will be signing copies of this blog post in the foyer.


I will, in the weeks to come, pioneer this technique even further by starting to use Maggi masala or curry flavour two-minute noodles (40p in Tesco: get an armful), which can flavour the whole thing by using the seasoning sachet, meant for noodle soup, sprinkled throughout during frying, removing the need for soy. Some other things that work particularly well when stir-fried are pak choi (fry the root, wilt the leaves); the crunch of sprouts, into which I am now bang, despite their costing a million pounds in supermarkets because no one buys them for 51 weeks of the year on account of an entire country having convinced itself that the absolute worst way of preparing them – boiling – is the only acceptable one; and spring greens, which will knot themselves through everything and glisten with the oil and vinegar and everything else besides.



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