Sauté with some spice

Skip the restaurant and take-out lines the next time you crave some flavorful Asian noodles. This week I'm sharing a slightly spicy at-home version that's perfect for a busy weeknight. The noodles can be made with mushrooms or ground meat, and I chose to make a vegetarian mushroom version for the accompanying photo.


The recipe begins by sauteing a pound of chopped mushrooms, ground chicken, pork or beef in a little dark sesame oil. I use my food processor to quickly chop the mushrooms.

The mushrooms will take a little longer to cook than the ground meat, since you'll want to let the mushrooms release their juices and then continue cooking them until most of the liquid is evaporated. Sprinkling the mushrooms with a little salt at the beginning of cooking helps speed the process of releasing the juices.

Asian ingredients are readily available at our local supermarkets, and these noodles are flavored with some hoisin sauce (which is sometimes called Chinese ketchup), soy sauce and chili sauce with garlic. The chili sauce adds a little heat, so feel free to use less if your family doesn't enjoy spicy foods.

I used vermicelli noodles from the Asian section of my supermarket for the recipe, but you can use thin spaghetti or linguine if that's what you have in the pantry.

These flavorful noodles make a great weeknight family meal. A side of stir-fried asparagus or broccoli and a fresh fruit salad is all you need to complete your menu.

Spicy Asian Noodles with Mushrooms

8 ounces vermicelli

16 ounces mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and coarsely chopped (or 1 pound ground chicken, pork or beef for a nonvegetarian version)

2 tablespoons sesame oil

6 green onions, minced, plus more, for garnish

2 teaspoons minced garlic, about 2 large cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup vegetable broth (or beef broth if making a nonvegetarian version)

1/3 cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon chile sauce with garlic

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are golden brown, about 8 minutes. (If making a nonvegetarian version, brown ground beef in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, stirring until it crumbles. Drain and set aside.)

Add the remaining sesame oil to the skillet and add the green onions, garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until onions are wilted.

Combine cornstarch and broth, whisking until smooth. Stir broth mixture, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and chile sauce into skillet. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute, until mixture is thick and glossy. (If making a nonvegetarian version, stir in ground beef.)

Toss with hot cooked pasta, and sprinkle with sliced green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

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