Stir-Fried Wide Rice Noodles with Pickled Vegetables

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Pickled or fermented cabbage is often combined with Asian noodles but requires some forethought. So here I mimic the flavor by pickling the vegetables with a little vinegar in the pan. Use the fattest rice noodles you can find for this recipe and feel free to vary the vegetables; asparagus, snow peas, green beans, or even cubes of butternut squash all work well instead of the cabbage. Substitute button mushrooms for the shiitake or skip them altogether. The trick is to work with a relatively hot skillet, quickly sear one vegetable at a time, then remove it. Then you toss everything with the noodles like a warm salad.

Salt

12 ounces wide rice noodles

1/4 cup peanut or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1 large onion, halved and cut into thin slivers

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

8 ounces Napa or Savoy cabbage or mustard greens

2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced fresh chile (like jalapeГ±o or Thai), or to taste, or hot red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Soy sauce for drizzling

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the noodles and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes; test occasionally since the cooking times can vary depending on the noodles. Drain, rinse in cold water, and put in a large bowl of cold water.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp and brown, about 3 minutes; transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the mushrooms and cook and stir until they release their water and begin to brown, about 5 minutes; transfer to the bowl with the onion. Repeat the process with the cabbage, adding enough oil to keep a thin layer on the bottom of the pan; transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms and the onion.

Put the remaining oil in the pan along with the ginger and lower the heat to medium. Cook and stir until it softens, just a minute or so. Stir in the chile, then the vinegar, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour the dressing over the vegetables. (The recipe can be made to this point up to an hour or so ahead of time; gently warm the vegetable mixture again before proceeding.)

Drain the noodles and add them to the bowl of vegetables. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve, passing soy sauce at the table for drizzling.

Variation

Stir-Fried Brown Rice Noodles with Pickled Vegetables. A little heartier, with a slight nutty flavor: Substitute brown rice noodles for the wide rice noodles. (They will take a few minutes longer to cook.)