The kids were fed and put to bed and now it was time to cook a meal and enjoy our night together. That was the plan until we got into a fight and then dinner became a fend for yourself situation. The fridge was bare so we both had to scrounge our way to a meal. I recently shopped at a newly opened Asian market (formerly Byerle’s near Ruth street!) and had picked up an assortment of Asian vegetables that needed to be cooked pronto. Asian markets can be a wonderful curse – wonderful because you get an abundance of fresh vegetables for a reasonable price and curse because you need to commit to days of cooking. It’s a happy problem, though. So there I was with an abundance of shiitake mushrooms, an impulse purchase when I spied them in the Asian market. My partner doesn’t like mushrooms so I rarely buy them, but the shiitake looked so beautiful that I pounced. Days later, they still sat in the fridge unused because I hadn’t come up with a way to sneak them into a meal. Then it dawned on me that I was the only one eating this meal so I cut up a BUNCH of mushrooms.
Cutting up shiitake mushrooms brought me back to China. There you can buy many varieties of wonderful mushrooms for an amazingly affordable price, so I went a little mushroom crazy every time I went to the market. We were newly dating when I accepted a job in China and my partner joined me shortly after I started, so months into our relationship we were living together in a foreign land and he never told me he didn’t like mushrooms. I was in mushroom heaven and bought lots of different kinds and threw them into everything. I don’t remember when or how long it took him to finally tell me he didn’t like mushrooms. I, of course, toned down the mushroom cooking considerably, but I think he also learned to tolerate them because you can’t live in China without eating mushrooms, especially when ordering out was typically a close your eyes and point situation.
Though mushrooms are the star of my Spicy Noodles, you can omit the mushrooms and add whatever vegetables float your boat. The sauce for the noodles is so easy to make because you simply plop a tablespoon of each sauce ingredient into a bowl. A tablespoon of sriracha gives the noodles a kick, but add more or less based on personal preference. I use wheat linguine but you can use chow mein noodles, rice noodles, really any kind. The noodles are infinitely better and easier to fry if they’ve been cooked and then cooled completely in the fridge (like fried rice), though it’s certainly not necessary. If you prep the vegetables ahead of time and start with cold cooked noodles, the spicy noodles are on the table in less than ten minutes!
By the way, my partner was unsuccessful in his foraging, and when he smelled my meal, he found his way to the kitchen. Though it was chock full of mushrooms, he ate three helpings. Maybe that was his way of saying sorry or maybe the noodles are just that good. You decide.