Cooking for one can be tough. You might just want to chase away your hunger with some cereal, a piece of fruit or a can of soup. At our house, a quick one-person meal for Sarah might be a plate of ten-minute pan-fried noodles; for me, it’s just a batch of dumplings, which we usually stock in our fridge; for Kaitlin, it would probably be microwaving whatever leftovers she can find; and Bill would probably just skip a meal. No matter how much we love to cook, we’ve all had the experience of wandering into the kitchen, poking around, and talking ourselves out of cooking.
But life in Beijing has changed my bad lunch habits. During the week, I’m on my own for lunch and I’ve decided that every lunch hour is a chance to enjoy something really good. Stir-fry is a great way to cook for one person. I take what I have in the fridge, get the right amount of ingredients (typically three to four kinds of vegetables) and whip up a yummy meal for myself. We hope that our recipes inspire you to cook, even if it’s just for yourself.
There are no limits as to what you can do with stir-fries, so use our recipes as guides and be as creative as you want. You can substitute your “likes” for your “don’t likes,” your “haves” for “don’t haves,” and your “can eats” for “can’t eats.” You can also adjust seasoning. I love fish sauce, so I like to add a teaspoon of it with my vegetables. It makes the dish tastier, more complex (in a good way) and definitely more interesting. Some people love spicy food, so add some hot chili pepper, hot sauce or chili oil if that’s what you like.
Another trick to achieve a good stir-fry is to know the cooking time required for each ingredient. For example, carrots require a longer cooking time than celery, so just let the carrots cook for a few minutes first before adding the celery. Once you’ve got that principle down, you can’t go wrong!
So today’s stir fry lunch was a quick cabbage and glass noodle stir fry, something that we were introduced to in a lot of the restaurants here in Beijing. It’s simple, easy, and really delicious. You can find the clear mung bean noodles you’ll need in any Asian grocery store. They come in small individual packages, each with one bundle of noodles in it.
Soak the mung bean noodles for about 10 minutes until soft. Cut the bundle in half, drain and set aside.
Slice the cabbage…
Beat the eggs along with a pinch of salt, a splash of sesame oil, and a splash of Shaoxing wine. Scramble the eggs quickly in a hot wok with a tablespoon of oil.
Eggs cook very fast, so this is usually done in less a minute. Take the eggs out of the wok and set aside.
Heat two more tablespoons of cooking oil in the wok over medium heat. Add the dried red chilis, garlic, and scallion. Cook for a couple minutes until fragrant.
Before the peppers start to turn brown, add the cabbage and turn up the heat to high. Stir and mix everything together.
Add noodles, cooked egg, a little more salt to taste, 1 more tablespoon Shaoxing wine, ½ teaspoon sesame oil, ¼ teaspoon white pepper, and ½ teaspoon soy sauce.
Stir everything well together and continue to stir-fry for another couple minutes.
Plate and serve your cabbage and glass noodle stir fry!