5 Ingredients. 5 Minutes. 5 Meals. Simple Noodles

I love pasta.

Simple, comforting, versatile and inexpensive it’s easy to see why it’s on high rotation in most family dinner repetoires. But sometimes pasta can get a little boring week after week. Which is when I look to Asia and the wonderful of world of noodles for inspiration to freshen things up.

From fresh hokkien noodles, to dried rice sticks to soft Japanese udon noodles. There are so many options to choose from. And they’re fast. No need to boil for 10 minutes or more like pasta, just pour over some boiling water, soak for a few minutes and serve.

I know the thing that holds me back from cooking Asian food is the long ingredient lists and the thought of having to buy a whole heap of different sauces that I’m only going to use every now and then. So I’ve tried to keep things simple. To cook all 5 dishes youll only need three sauces soy, fish and oyster. If you haven’t cooked Asian before I’d urge you to at least invest in a bottle of soy sauce and start from there.

So why not surprise the family with some noodle fun?

Japanese noodle soup with spinach (serves 2)

Udon noodles a lovely fat white Japanese wheat noodles. I’m still not sure how they can be all soft and fresh looking but come in packs that don’t need refrigerating. Noodle magic?

They are brilliant to have on hand for a quick meal. Just add in some some soy sauce lemon and baby spinach for a deeply satisfying nutritious dinner.

1 chicken breast, finely sliced into ribbons
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 packet udon noodles (7oz or 200g)
1 packet baby spinach leaves or 1 small bunch english spinach
lemon juice

Bring 2 cups water to the boil in a medium saucepan. Add chicken and simmer for 1-2 minutes or until cooked. Scoop out chicken with a slotted spoon and divide between 2 bowls.

Return broth to the heat and add noodles, soy and spinach. Stir to break up the noodles and let the spinach wilt. You might need to add the spinach in batches. Don’t worry it will fit in as it wilts.

Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, stir and taste. Keep adding lemon until it tastes fresh and zesty. Pour soup over the chicken and serve hot.

2 minute noodles with bok choy & oyster sauce (serves 2)

If the thought of using 2 minute noodles disturbs you, by all means try another noodle but I was pleasantly surprised how lovely they were with the fresh greens and the savoury sauce.

If you can’t find bok choy, any other asian greens would work or you could just use a big bunch of English spinach.

1 packet 2 minute noodles chicken flavour
1 bunch baby bok choy, separated into individual leaves
1/3 cup oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Place about 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and add the flavour sachet from the noodles and bring to the boil. Add bok choy and noodles and simmer for 2 minutes until noodles are cooked and the bok choy is wilted. Drain and return to the pan. Stir through oyster sauce and oil and serve hot.

Veggie laksa (serves 3)

Laksa is a wonderful coconut milk based noodle soup that hails from Malaysia. These days you can get commercial laska or other Thai curry pastes that take all the hard work out of it.

I’ve used Singapore noodles in this recipe which are a fine version of fresh hokkien noodles but I have eaten laksa with rice noodles and even a combination of the two so feel free to substitute.

I’ve cheated a little on the 5 ingredient rule by including mixed chopped vegetables as a single ingredient. I actually used a carrot, a zucchini and a red pepper, all cut into little batons. Chicken laksa is also really popular. Prawn or shrimps are lovely cooked in the spicy fragrant coconut broth.

3/4lb (350g) fresh Singapore noodles
2oz (60g) Laksa paste or other Thai curry paste
1 large can (1 1/2 cups) coconut cream
2 cups mixed chopped vegetables (see note above)
handful fresh basil leaves

Place noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1 minute then massage to loosen into individual strands. Drain.

Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of peanut or other vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add curry paste and stir fry for 30 seconds. Quickly add coconut cream and 2 cups boiling water. Bring to the boil and add vegetables. Simmer for 2 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

To serve, divide noodles between 3 bowls. Pour over soup and vegetables and top with basil leaves.

Hokkien noodles with tofu, honey & soy (serves 4)

Hokkien noodles are fresh wheat based noodles that are a lot like fresh fat spaghetti. They are usually in the chiller section of the supermarket, although I have seen some that are shelf stable in the Asian food section. If you can’t find hokkien noodles any other thick wheat based noodle would work well or even some spaghetti or bucatini.

If you’re not a fan of tofu, feel free to substitute in finely sliced chicken breast or even beef.

1lb (500g) fresh hokkien or singapore noodles
10oz (300g) firm tofu, chopped into large chunks
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
6 green onions, finely sliced

Place noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1 minute then massage to loosen into individual strands. Drain.

Heat some peanut or other vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add tofu and stir fry until golden brown. Mix together soy and honey in a small bowl then add to the wok. Stir and allow to cook until slightly reduced. Toss through noodles and green onion and serve hot.

Rice noodles with chicken & lime (serves 4)

This is based on the Thai dish larb which is a fresh fragrant stir fry of ground chicken or pork. If you don’t want to invest in a bottle of fish sauce you could use 1/4 cup soy sauce instead. It will be slightly more salty and heavy but still lovely and fresh with the lime and herbs.

Dried rice noodles are an excellent option when youre catering for people with wheat and gluten sensitivity. Rice noodles could be substituted in any of the recipes above. Just soften them first by soaking in a bowl of boiling water and off you go.

Another allergen note. Most soy sauces contain some wheat derivitaves and aren’t suitable for gluten free diets. The Japanese soy sauce known as Tamari does not contain wheat so look for this if you need to.

3/4lb (375g) rice sticks (dried rice noodles)
1 1/2lb (600g) ground chicken
1/3C fish sauce
1/4C lime juice + lime halves to serve
1 bunch coriander or fresh mint, leaves picked

Place noodles in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to soften.

Heat some peanut or vegetable oil in a large wok or frying pan. Cook chicken over high heat until well browned. Drain noodles and add to pan. Cook until noodles are heated through and softened. Add fish sauce and stir for a few seconds. Remove from the heat and toss through lime juice and herbs.