July 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

One-dish chuka soba noodles meal sports Asian flair

Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables can be served with or without meat or with tofu. (Joshua Resnick / Fotolia)

Years ago, I wrote a stir-fry book and learned lots of new recipes and flavors. One of the recipes I often refer to is stir-fried noodles. Its easy to see why noodles have become so popular in ramen shops across the country. They are a true comfort food. Soft or crispy, noodles are just one of those foods that make us happy.

For this one-dish noodle main course, I like to use the Japanese version of Chinese wheat noodles, chuka soba noodles, which are precooked and dried. They are often used to make ramen, but here they are stir-fried till crisp and then combined with vegetables and meat or poultry, if desired. If these noodles are unavailable, you can use Chinese egg noodles. By crisping the noodles first, youll create varied textures in this dish.

If you prefer a vegetarian dish, omit the meat or chicken. You could add some precooked tofu if you like. I make this dish when I have extra grilled chicken, beef or lamb in my fridge. It becomes a satisfying main course that tastes nothing like leftovers. This is a last-minute meal that cant be made ahead, so plan accordingly. I always have all my ingredients measured out to streamline the process. To drink? A cold Asian beer or a chilled Chardonnay. Enjoy!

Pan-fried Noodles with Vegetables

cup dried shiitake mushrooms
One 6-ounce package chuka soba noodles
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry wine
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
6 scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
6 fresh white mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken, beef or lamb

Pour boiling water over the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and let them soften for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles for 3 to 4 minutes, or until al dente. (Do not overcook the noodles, because they are going to be cooked again.) Drain the noodles well and spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry slightly.

To make the sauce, in a small mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, soy sauce, wine, sugar, stock, sesame oil and red pepper flakes, and whisk to blend, making sure that the cornstarch is dissolved. Drain the shiitake mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Strain the soaking liquid through cheesecloth and add cup to the sauce. Trim the stems of the shiitakes and set aside.

In a wok or large, nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil. Add the noodles and toss using 2 large forks or spoons until crisp and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a bowl.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil in the wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic, and quickly stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots, peas and fresh mushrooms, and continue to stir-fry, stirring and tossing constantly, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Add the shiitakes and the sauce to the vegetables. Raise the heat to high. Add the meat and stir until the meat is heated throughout and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Just before serving, stir the noodles into the stir-fry just to heat them through. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Per serving: 528 calories; 20 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 34 percent calories from fat); 58 g carbohydrates; 13 g sugar; 61 mg cholesterol; 1,205 mg sodium; 33 g protein; 6 g fiber.

Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks and a James Beard award-winning radio show host. seriouslysimple.com