Friday, February 25, 2011

Indonesian Fried Noodles

I made this dish out of a yearning for the noodles we had in Bali during our honeymoon.  Let me backtrack a little and set the scene: we spent the first part of the honeymoon at Jimbaran Bay, which is mostly resorts. Great. Except when the food sucks, and the food at our resort certainly did suck. Big time. I mean, it was tears-welling-up worth, especially for the prices.  And if you're at a resort, you're a bit (or a lot) isolated from  local restaurants and establishments.

We had heard about a farmers' market in the area. Hooray, you would think. But to get there, we had to walk about 20 minutes, with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, a brutal equatorial sun, and, if it's possible, 50000 degree humidity.  These are conditions I do not like--ask anybody.  I will talk incessantly about how hot and disgusting I feel, and then groan as if in mortal pain and say something like "I'm meeellltttiiinngg..."

I think we both lost weight during the first few days, because we refused to subject ourselves to the food at the resort (you see, we are very principled people with a strict moral code), and it wasn't easy to get to the farmers' market. When we did get to the market, we bought scary amounts of fruit to gorge on to tide us over.  But eating even 5 lbs of fruit a day was not going to cut it.

Out of desperation, we asked one of the staff for a recommendation for somewhere we could eat outside the resort.  We were told about a little restaurant, a hole in the wall kind of place, that had your everyday Indonesian food.  Oh thank heavens.  Oh I could have shoved my face in those piles of noodles.

So I found an Indonesian Fried Noodles recipe on Epicurious. I won't pretend that my dish was as good or authentic as the ones in Bali, but who cares. You're getting the recipe anyway.

Adapted from Epicurious
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons ketjap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), or if you're like me and can't find that, 1 1/2 TBS oyster sauce and 1 1/2 TBS soy sauce (or even 3 TBS soy sauce with about a tsp of sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or Sriracha (Southeast Asian chile sauce), or to taste
  • 3 large shallots
  • 1/2 cup peanut, vegetable oil or other high smoke point oil
  • 8 oz dried...noodles (okay this was weird because the recipe called for 1 pound fresh flat Chinese stir-fry egg noodles, which I couldn't find, and so I used an 8 oz package of something called "Chinese Plain Noodles". I know. There's a picture of it later on to give you an idea of what to get, although you could really use any noodle, including angel hair pasta)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce) package firm tofu
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (4 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh red or green Thai or serrano chile, with or without seeds (with seeds if you want the dish spicier)
  • about 3 cups green veggie of your choice, cut into 1-inch pieces--I used Chinese broccoli, but you could use any or combo of green beans, snow peas, bok choy, etc.
  • 2 scallions, cut diagonally into very thin slices
Prep all your components beforehand.  Use your second refrigerator to store your ingredients until ready to use. What? You don't have one? Here's mine:

Which is basically our back patio, which we share with neighbors.

Mix together the chicken broth, Indonesian sweet soy sauce (or the alternatives mentioned above), fish sauce, and sambal oelek (or Sriracha) in a small bowl.

Bottles of umami standing at attention.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 8 to 12 minutes.  From this:

To this:

Remove shallots with tongs or slotted spoon.  Pour shallot-infused oil into a small bowl.

Looks innocent, but oh so fragrant.

Cook your noodles according to instructions.  Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, and toss with 2 tsp of shallot oil.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs together with a fork and a pinch of salt.  Heat 1 TBS shallot oil in the saute pan over medium heat.  Pour beaten eggs into pan and cook until barely set, about 2 to 4 minutes.

This was the part of the recipe that said to gently slide out the egg onto a cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch strips.  Since I was using a saute pan and due to my amazing culiinary skills, this is what I ended up with:

Whatever, roll it up best you can and slice away.

Heat 2 TBS shallot oil (I moved to a bigger pot at this point, but it could fit in the saute pan if you're neat and careful, which I'm not) over medium high heat and saute the onions with about 1/4 tsp salt until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic and chili.

Cook for about 1 minute, then add the diced tofu and cook for 3 more minutes.

Add your greens and cook until wilted or crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Add sauce and bring to a boil.  Add noodles, scallions and reserved shallots and toss until warm.

Serve. And have a big big big beer.  


A note: I'm not sure I'll make this dish again, but it was decent enough that I posted about it anyway. It was tasty, but was a bit more work than this lazy-ass likes to do.

As opposed to other stir-fries that I've made, this one seemed more...complicated. It might have been because I was trying to watch the Super Bowl at the same time, but there were a lot of ingredients added one at a time so it was a minute here, 5 minutes here, make this component, make that component--I was a frantic sweaty mess after making this.  Here's wishing you have a more arid experience.


  1. Ooh that looks yummy. It's a shame you don't have a sous-chef to do all that prep work. I'll send mine over next time.

  2. Yuuuum, fried onions. I'm glad there's someone else out there with a similar response to temperatures over 85 degrees and 100% humidity ;)

  3. Color me intimidated... there's no way I could tackle this dish so again, I'll invite myself over to your house for some of that beverage I see on your patio. :D

  4. Do you think it would've been better if you had cooked with a wok?

  5. that does look complicated. but very tasty! this is super bowl fare that I can get behind.

  6. what masterful knife skills you have! look at those perfectly minced pieces of garlic.

    I'm going to have to go with Jessica on this one and also make a beeline for those bottles on your patio.

  7. Well it looks delicious even if it was a pain in the ass to make. :)

  8. Oooh, this looks yummy. And, your "arid" comment made me laugh -- you're so awesome.

  9. I JUST made this dish, and all I have to say is that husband went back for THIRDS. this is a winner!