I’ve been awful at updating regularly this semester, and I won’t have the chance to in the next couple weeks…so I suppose this is one I prepared earlier

There is a strand of cuisine that you won’t find on restaurant plates anywhere in the world. Yes, you can find caviar and foie gras, you can try gels, foams, chocolate ‘earth’ and sniff your food out of a test tube, or dive into a plate of deep-fried grasshoppers and snakeskin soup, but you won’t find this, I promise you.

I speak of course, of the food of students. In particular, uni and college students. People who don’t have the luxury of a full refrigerator or well-stocked pantry, who can’t afford to spend hours slaving over a hot stove, or simply can’t think straight due to a hangover.

(In case you were wondering, I currently fall into the second category, and not the third. =P) 

As a uni student, I’m frequently looking to cook something:

a) Quick

b) Requiring minimal preparation or cleaning up

c) Yummy

d) Cheap

Of course, it helps if the food covers more than one food group (and I don’t mean in a meat/carb fried in oil (fats) sort of way), and can be packed and heated up in a microwave for lunch. It gets bonus points if it uses food I have around the house – I don’t want to be going out and buying herbs or vegetables that I might not have on hand.

My lunch up there might look like it required a lot of effort and preparation, but in all honestly, it didn’t. See that stirfried beef in the foreground, which looks absolutely terrible in the photo? That’s what was left of last night’s dinner. And the gorgeously golden Yum Cha-style noodles? I have to confess that they are instant noodles. Yes, the curly bits of de-hydrated cardboard that come out of a packet.


Yum Cha-Style Noodles for the Uni Student

1 packet of instant noodles – any brand will do
Sesame oil
Olive oil, to cook
1/2 a small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped finely – less if you don’t like garlic as much as i do
Handful of beansprouts
1 teaspoon shallots, sliced finely
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon tomato sauce
Pickled ground chilli, to taste (optional) – bought in asian grocery stores (basically red chillies ground with vinegar) 
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook** the instant noodles until just soft and drain thoroughly. Toss in a tablespoon or two of sesame oil and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a wok or small frying pan until smoke begins to appear. Throw in garlic, onion and beansprouts and stir fry until softened. I like my onions to be slightly browned at the edges. Add the noodles, half the shallots and drizzle the soysauce and tomato sauce over. Mix well (I personally find chopsticks to be best for this, and can’t imagine an alternative). If you like, let some of the noodles sit at the base of the pan a while to crisp up. Season

Serve, stirring the chilli sauce through just before eating. It’s nice to have other bits and pieces to go with this, like leftover stirfries, steamed veggies or even a fried egg.

* More like guidelines. There is so much you could do to improve this, but this happened to be what I had on hand. Some ideas would be to slice up char siu (bbq pork) or pieces of egg-omelette, and stirfry through, use all sorts of nice veggies, like julienned carrots or chinese leafy vegetables like choy sum or chinese broccoli. As for the sauce combinations, traditionally, tomato sauce wouldn’t be used, and more light soysauce and oyster sauce would be added instead of dark, but I personally like the flavor. Try different ratios and combinations until you find something you like.

** I just put the noodles into a bowl, poured water (not hot water) on top until it was almost covered, and chucked it in the microwave on 100% for 4 minutes, stirring halfway through. You could also add boiling water on top and cover with a plate, or (the most effort-heavy way) actually cook it in a pot. It doesn’t really matter, they all taste the same to me.