What do you get when you have half a pound of pork, half a bell pepper, half a bag of frozen peas, and a whole bunch of rice noodles?
In this case, at least, what you get is curried noodle stir-fry. This recipe is 100% adaptable to whatever sort of veggies (bok choy! eggplant! green beans!) or protein (ground chicken! frozen/crumbled tofu!) you have on hand, and is also a fine way of getting rid of little tag-ends of sauces and other ingredients. The garlic, ginger, garam masala (or curry powder) and soy sauce are fairly critical; everything else is up for interpretation.
Curried Rice Noodle Stir-Fry
Serves four generously, by which I mean Jim got to take leftovers to work
8 to 12 ounces rice noodles (I used wide Thai noodles)
1/4 cup peanut oil, plus maybe a little more if it seems necessary
A 2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 (or a whole one, if you have it) red bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
About a cup of frozen peas (unthawed = fine)
1/2 pound ground pork (or other meat/protein; or just double the veggies and leave this part out)
2 Tbsp (or a little more) curry powder or garam masala, or some of each
A pinch of sugar
1/2 cup chicken (or veggie) broth (or 1/4 cup each seasoned rice vinegar and water)
1 Tbsp fish sauce and 2 Tbsp soy sauce, or some such combination thereof
A nice healthy blob (1 tsp to 1 Tbsp) of chili-garlic sauce
1/4 cup (or thereabouts) each chopped fresh mint and cilantro
First, soak the noodles in very hot water to cover. This will take 15 to 30 minutes, so get them started and then do all your other chopping/prepping. When the noodles are very soft, drain them as well as you possibly can–shake them wildly around in the colander, or get a kid or someone to do this for you–and set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp of the peanut oil in a large, heavy, deepish skillet (or nonstick pan) over medium-high heat. When it is hot enough to sizzle a wee piece of garlic, toss the garlic and ginger in and cook, stirring frantically, for about 20 seconds, or until very fragrant. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring without cease, until barely tender, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and cook, likewise stirring stirring ever stirring, for 2 more minutes or so. Add the pork and cook, stirring to break it up, until there is no more visible trace of pink.
Sprinkle the curry powder/garam masala and sugar over the mixture and cook, stirring wildly, for about 30 seconds more. Scoop everything out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of peanut oil to the pan and increase heat to high. Dump in the noodles and immediately begin tossing and stirring; they will have a decided tendency to stick and burn. Don’t let them do it! (Probably you won’t be able to prevent this entirely.) Continue tossing and stirring until noodles are hot and beginning to brown, probably 3 to 5 minutes.
Add meat/veggie mixture back to pan, along with chicken broth, and toss thoroughly. When all is well heated and amalgamated, add fish sauce and/or soy sauce; continue tossing and heating for another 30 seconds or so. Remove from the heat and toss with chili-garlic sauce.
Serve in wide bowls, garnished festively with mint and cilantro.