Emily Wolfe | Contributing Editor
Not to be controversial, but this quarantine is really saving my bank account — since I no longer leave my house, I can’t be tempted into buying a frappuccino every time I walk past Starbucks or indulging in the sheer perfection that is Szechuan Express’ sesame chicken. Instead, I’m lucky enough to be able to dig into my parents’ kitchen cupboards and brew myself a sweet cup of joe or whip up a couple servings of macaroni and cheese — one box for my lunch, or two if I’m planning to share. Of course, the inability to stop by Rite Aid on my way home to buy ice cream for dinner means that I have to get more creative with the ingredients at my disposal to make meals that please both myself and my parents, who now get to see (and shame) all of my dietary decisions. So, here is a trusted stir-fry recipe that is highly adaptable to whatever happens to be in your kitchen and is sure to please your health-conscious parents. Or, if you’re living alone, this recipe will give you some sense of control over your life in the age of quarantine.
Total cook time: Like 20 minutes? Depends on how fast you work.
Servings: I can feed a four-person family with this, but I can also eat all of it myself in a single day, so take that as you will.
Noodles of some form (“oriental” flavored ramen is what the original recipe called for, but I don’t actually believe you can distill “oriental” into a single flavor packet, so use whatever kind of ramen or leftover noodles you have sitting around, in whatever amount feels right)
Protein (I prefer a container of extra-firm tofu, but you can use chicken, eggs or even none at all)
Vegetables (a mix of the frozen veggies you tossed to the back of your freezer and completely forgot about works well here, or if you miraculously have fresh veggies you can use those. Here again, the original recipe asked for an “Asian blend.”)
Soy sauce (no matter how much you add when cooking, you’ll need to add more once it’s on your plate — this is known as Bailey’s Second Law of Cookery.)
Step 1. If you’re using uncooked noodles, fill a pot with enough water for however much you feel like making, then cook the noodles until al dente. Proceed with the rest of the recipe while waiting for boiling/cooking.
Step 2. Cook your protein. If using tofu, slice it into small cubes and fry it in a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pan until golden brown. If you’re using chicken or eggs, cook them whatever way you like. At home, I like to use our wok. At school, I use my biggest pan and try to spill as little as possible.
Step 3. Add chopped vegetables. Cook until they’re tender. If you’re using fresh instead of frozen, you might need to add a couple splashes of water to the pan to help steam the vegetables.
Step 4. Add soy sauce and seasoning. When I use ramen, I’ll pour in whatever seasoning packet came with it. If I’m using other noodles, I’ll add a bit of grated ginger if I have it. Some sesame oil would be a lovely addition. Even some chili flakes, if that’s the sort of thing you like.
Step 5. Add cooked noodles. Stir to combine.
Step 6. Serve with extra soy sauce on the side and some sesame seeds for garnish.
Step 7. When your impressed parents ask where you got the recipe, say, “Oh, I just adapted it from one I found in the newspaper I read every day.” Now they know you’re not just a chef, but a media connoisseur.