When my husband went away for the weekend, I planned three days of abstinence and industry for myself. I would humor the workaholic in me (so often ignored) and write late into the night. And I would indulge the hypochondriac in me and eat only healthy foods for his entire 72-hour absence. I prepared my garments of sack cloth.
Which precisely explains how I woke up on the couch at 1.30 am with the TV blaring a Gilmore Girls marathon, and a half-filled bottle of wine lolling recklessly on the floor. In the bathroom, I tried to ignore the throbbing pain at the base of my neck as I peeled the contact lenses off my eyes.
The next morning I surveyed the kitchen. Dots of sesame oil glistened against the shiny black surface of the stove, a bottle of Sriracha left sticky rings on the counter, a pile of pots colonized the sink like urban sprawl. Slowly, the night came back to me: the need to relax after 12 hours in front of the computer. The impulse to cook something fast. The resulting noodle stir fry eaten with just-one-more glass of wine in front of just-one-more episode of sugary girl-pop TV.
At least I’d had the wherewithal to store the leftovers in the fridge. Turns out, they were the perfect way to nurse a hangover.
Chinese ginger noodles
I hesitated before offering this recipe because it’s so simple it’s almost facile. But then I thought, I love simple-almost-facile recipes, especially for busy weeknights. This is a dish I make when I don’t have a lot of time to cook. Or, clearly, when I’m tipsy.
Chicken and marinade:
1/2 lb chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxin wine (or white wine)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the vegetables:
1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola or sunflower) (divided)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch root ginger, peeled and minced
1- 1.5 lbs napa cabbage (or other sturdy green vegetable: broccoli, leeks, cabbage)
1 teaspoon chili sauce (optional)
5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
500 grams/1 lb long noodles
For the chicken: Cut into thin slices and mix with the marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
Chop the napa cabbage (or other green vegetable) into small, bite-sized morsels. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the noodles.
Heat a skillet or wok over high heat and add a 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken with marinade and cook, tossing constantly until the meat is cooked through. Remove to a separate dish. Clean the pan.
Reheat the pan and add the remaining oil. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant. Add the napa cabbage (or other vegetable) stirring to combine. Quickly, add the water, soy sauce, and chili sauce, combine, lower the heat and cover. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions.
When the vegetables are cooked, add the chicken, heating everything through. Add the drained noodles to the pan, stirring to combine with the sauce, which will be very liquid. Taste, adding more soy sauce if necessary. Drizzle with the remaining sesame oil.