EDIT 9/29/2015. Lovelies, when you see this speaker icon feel free to click on it, it’ll take you to a Clyp audio file with the Khmer pronunciation! I’ve been looking for a site to do this on, sometimes it’s hard to phonically spell Khmer words using English letters, I hope this will help!
I am 2 weeks behind now! Yayyyy! I’m catching up and striving hard to stay to date on my 52 Weeks of Blogging challenge, though this month is insanely busy for me. I’m hoping I will be caught up by July. I can’t believe how busy this summer is already shaping up to be. I have a trip to Vancouver in a few weeks to see family I haven’t seen in a few years. The best part will be learning to make a few very traditional Khmer dishes from my Aunt, I can’t wait! Both my Mom and Aunt are phenomenal cooks and I’m very lucky to have access to their cooking skills. We’re taking my niece up and it’ll be the first time she’s meeting her cousins, actually it’ll be the first time I’m meeting 4 of the 5 nieces and nephews I have up north. It will be a very loud and tiring vacation, but those are always the best.
When I was in Jr High, I was allowed to walk home from school and stay at home alone without having to go to a baby sitter like my younger siblings did. I loved the freedom those 3 hours gave me before the rest of my family came home. One of the things I would make myself for an after school snack was stir fried noodles. I’d cook instant noodles (think 20 cent ramen) like pasta then stir fry it with left over veggies, meats and throw on that dry packet of seasoning. Voila. It was quick, cheap and filling.
These days I still keep those instant noodle packs around for when I’m feeling extra lazy and just want something quick. I also buy the bricks of noodles sans seasoning packets to use for quick stir fries. This past Saturday my tummy was rumbling early so I dragged my body out of bed and stared at my refrigerator for a while. I had a small bunch of scallions, lots of beautiful red, orange and yellow peppers plus onions and ground turkey. Mee Cha is it! Mee Cha or Stir Fried Noodles is a among one of the first items a Cambodian child learns how to make, after proper steamed Jasmine Rice of course. Mee is the generic term we use for noodles, specifically eggs noodles or non-rice noodles. Rice noodles are referred to as Khuyteav. You can add just about anything to Mee Cha and it’ll almost always taste fantastic, any combination of meat, seafood and veggies with a few simple seasoning makes for a delicious easy lunch.
This is my version with what I had in my fridge that morning. I would normally add more or different ingredients, but I was half awake and didn’t feel like dragging my yeti looking self to the store that early! A girl has to have some sort of pride in her appearance! Let’s go over some of the ingredients, I know most will be familiar as they’ve become mainstream now!
Mushroom Soy: A dark thick soy that’s been infused with mushroom flavors. It’s used most often for color and has an earthy rich flavor, it’s not as salty as regular soy but the flavors can overwhelm if you have a heavy hand with it.
Oyster Sauce: How loved is this product? Fiercely loved! Some may think the essential ingredient is any stir fry is soy sauce but it’s not, its oyster sauce. Made simply with cooked oysters, sugar, salt and sometimes cornstarch, it’s a thick brown sauce that gives a beautiful salty and savory flavor to food. It’s true umami flavoring is hard to pinpoint, let’s just call it good!
Sha Cha Sauce: I know it says Hot and Spicy BBQ Sauce on the label, but this ingredient is also called Sha Cha sauce, I happen to be using the Bull’s Head brand name that comes in a can, after you open it, you’ll see oil floating on top. Like natural peanut butter, all you have to do is mix the oil back in before you use it and refrigerate the rest. Sha Cha is made up of soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chilies, brill fish, and dried shrimp, has a flavor of salty, slightly sweet, spicy. It can be used as a bbq rub, in dipping sauces or to flavor soups and broths. It comes in regular or the hot and spicy variety, I tend to always buy the hot and spicy one, I can handle the heat, although my dad did mention that my noodles were a little too spicy for him!
Shaoxing Rice Wine: An aromatic with nutty flavors that compliments any meat in many dishes, though it can be consumed as a beverage, I’m personally not into Shaoxing that way. I do however love it in cooking! A bottle can last a long time, I use it to marinade meats and seafood as it breaks it down and gives it an unctuous mouth feel, or in stir fries like I did today, it’s also fantastic in dumpling and egg roll fillings. If you don’t have access to Shaoxing Rice Wine, you can substitute with dry sherry or just leave it out completely.
Instant Noodles: We all know what these are! Dried and precooked noodle blocks that can be found with seasoning packets. I buy these big bags instead, mostly to have on hand for quick meals and noodle soups. It’s so much healthier to make your own broth than to simply throw in a packet of all salt and who knows what other stuff is in there. Instant noodles are made of wheat flour, water and salt. You can substitute with fresh noodles for this recipe, though these cook so quickly it’s hard not to love their convenience! Cooked in less than a minute and is a great pantry staple item.
I think I went over every item, you can swap out ingredients as you see fit for this recipe. Keep it vegetarian and don’t add meat, or use your favorite combinations of veggies, seafood and meat. It’s your world, I’m just giving you a map!
1/2 lbs Ground Turkey
3-4 Blocks of Instant Noodles
1 Onion, medium slice
2 Bell Peppers, Red, Orange or Yellow, sliced same size as onions
Handfuls of Baby Kale
3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
3 Scallions, sliced, green and whites separated
1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tbsp Mushroom Soy
1 tbsp Spicy Sha Cha Sauce
1 tbsp Honey
1/8 cup Shaoxing Rice Wine
Black Pepper to taste
Fried Eggs, optional
2. While turkey is browning, in a little bowl, mix together oyster sauce, mushroom soy, sha cha sauce, honey, shaoxing rice wine, and black pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
5. This part goes really fast so have everything ready to go! Add bell peppers to turkey mixture and immediately add noodles to boiling water. Per package directions, it usually says cook for 2-3 mins. Don’t do it! Cook the noodles for 1 minute only!! Otherwise you’ll have horrible soggy noodles. Save about a cup of hot noodle water also.
6. Drain noodles after 1 min and add to turkey mixture. Toss together, if noodles appear dry, add some of the cooking liquid you saved. Start with 1/2 cup and if you need it, the rest of the liquid. Add handfuls of baby kale and the rest of the scallions. Toss together one last time.