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Cheap pantry item you need to rethink

Instant noodles but not as you know them. Picture: iStock
Instant noodles but not as you know them. Picture: iStock

MAKE dinner the easiest thing you do all day with these tips and tricks.

Instant noodles used to be embarrassing - something to stuff in the back of the cupboard and pull out only in emergencies (personally, I craved them while pregnant, but that's another story). Now it seems their popularity has overtaken the fact they come in a packet and you need only add boiling water to bring out their salty deliciousness. Chefs too, eat instant noodles. Only they do it better than us. Here are 10 instant noodle hacks designed to take the tricky out of cooking a fast meal while stuffing in the flavour.

 

Dan Hong Head Chef at Mr Wong - the Instant Noodle Toastie

Have you ever tried an instant noodle toasted sandwich? Er, neither had we, until now. Whatever Dan Hong says to do, we should listen. His foolproof recipe:

"Cook instant noodles, then drain, add flavour sachet. Add chopped frankfurts or any leftover meat, and some chopped kimchi. Put it between two slices of bread with whatever leftover cheese there is, then butter heavily. Put in jaffle maker or toasted sandwich press."

Ollie Hansford Head Chef at Stokehouse - Instant Noodle Pancakes

"I normally use noodles in a completely different way" says Hansford. "The two favourites are to blanch the noodles, then mix into a light pancake batter, mixed with peas, sweet corn, chilli, ginger, garlic, some kimchi if it's kicking about and then fry them to become delicious crispy pancakes. The other trick is to smash them up, then into a pot with a tin of mushroom/tomato/pumpkin/vegetable soup (or whatever you have) and top up with left overs to create a chunky, hearty minestrone style soup with great texture."

Hansford tucks into instant noodles, "Whenever the fridge is bare and we need to go shopping but the couch is more appealing, usually after a long shift, heavy night out or lack of any substance in the fridge and after a super lazy feed." Sounds exactly like the rest of us then.

Adrian Li from Commune Group - Instant Noodle Stir Fry

"A lot of instant noodles are soup based," says Li, "but the secret is not to cook them by just adding everything into water, instead blanch the noodles so they are still a little firm and then stir fry them. My trick is inspired by Asian wedding noodles with a little twist."

"Once blanched, stir fry the noodles with a touch of oyster sauce, ginger, fresh spring onion and a fried egg. Add rehydrated sliced shiitakes if you're feeling fancy! Or a drop of truffle oil to elevate the dish into something spectacular. Close your eyes and boom!"

Li says he resorts to instant noodles more often than he likes to admit. "Truth is, when we finish a 14-hour day very little is open. You just want to go home and cook something quick and delicious before jumping into bed."

Somer Sivrioglu Owner and Head Chef of Anason and Efendy - Healthy Instant Noodles

"I always cook them in leftover chicken or vegetable stock," says Sivrioglu, "I skip the MSG packet and instead add pepper paste, which is much healthier and delicious. I also love having them with homemade yogurt - we eat yogurt with everything and go through four to five kg every week."

Sivrioglu says his fondness for instant noodles started when he came to Sydney, "as a poor student, and I still like them as they are quite different to what I normally eat at work. They are also great for experimenting with new sauces, so I generally use them without the supplied sauces and powders. I'll make them once a week for the kids as that's the only time I'm allowed to cook at home. My wife doesn't allow me in our kitchen as I need kitchen hands to clean up my mess."

Chris Yan Head Chef at Lotus Dining - Instant Noodle soup and stir-fry

"I'll make instant noodles once or twice a week," says Yan, "they're so convenient to make, I cook them when I get home after work on weekends. I'll usually make a soup by boiling the noodles, adding an egg, preserved vegetable oil, sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds.

"I also enjoy stir-frying them in vegetable oil and adding any vegetables I have in the fridge. I then add seasoning, sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds."

Zacharay Tan, Executive chef Devon Café

"I don't usually plan on eating instant noodles," Tan clarifies, "It's usually after a big night at work. I'll come home starving, raid the fridge and add whatever I can find. Things like spam, eggs, Japanese Kranskies, sambal, melting cheese, garlic oil, broccolini, pak choy, broccoli and asparagus."

"I like instant noodles, but I generally try to stay away from processed foods in my staple diet. It's usually the last resort but interestingly, it has featured in a few staff meals in my career. Once at Guillaume at Bennelong, we sent one of the boys to buy a tonne load of instant noodles to feed everybody, but I think some of the more Western-inclined chefs complained that it's not a meal. It was fun, I loved it. They're also great when you're camping."

Nelly Robinson from nel. Restaurant - Instant Noodle Larb

"I'll make instant noodle once every two weeks," says Robinson, "I love to add spicy chicken larb to my instant noodles. I usually cook up chicken mince, lime, garlic, carrot and fresh mint.

They're so simple and easy to make when you need something quick and tasty."

This story was originally published on delicious and is republished with permission.

Topics:  chef food hacks instant noodles live-save pantry staple


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