Tonight’s dinner, which I finished eating a few minutes ago, was noodles. As usual, I subjected them to a bit of noodlesprucing, which improved them immeasurably.
The noodles on this occasion were chicken ones. Rather, the noodles were plain old instant noodles and the supplied flavour sachet was chicken-flavoured (though whether any of the contents had ever been in sight of a real live chicken is another question). Most of the treatment I gave them was my pretty standard basic noodlespruce, which basically consists of lightly frying a chopped spring onion and (this time) some garlic in olive oil in the saucepan before adding boiling water, the aforementioned flavour sachet and a few extra spices (on this occasion, a fairly liberal pinch of lemongrass and a dash of Maggi sauce), then simmering for somewhat longer than specified on the packet (around 10 minutes, instead of about 3).
However, in addition to this, I did two other things. One was entirely new, as far as I can remember, to my preparation of noodles (though similar to a technique I’ve used countless times in cooking stews). The other was one that I’m fairly sure I’ve tried in the distant past (long before noodlesprucing was so named) but not for quite a while.
The new idea was to throw in a handful (metaphorically speaking – it was actually somewhat less, probably nearer a tablespoon’s worth, though I didn’t measure it accurately) of pearl barley. This relied on the extra cooking time to ensure that the barley was reasonably soft by the time the noodles were ready to eat. It was – just about – although possibly pre-soaking the grains in boiling water for a few minutes may be a good idea in future. This helped to make the dish a bit more substantial, and provided a nice additional flavour and texture.
The revived idea was to garnish the finished noodle dish with a generous dollop of mayonnaise, which was allowed to percolate its own way through the noodles rather than stirring it in too much. This provided a delicious, rich creaminess. As I ate my way through the noodles, I added a bit more mayonnaise a couple of times. By the end of the bowl, it had fairly well mixed with the noodle juice (or soup or call-it-what-you-will) and made it a pleasure to drink down to the last drop.
I’m not sure either of those spruces are going to be ones I use too often in the preparation of noodles, but they are certainly welcome additions to the repertoire.