Fried Noodles: A Childhood Favorite
My parents would probably think that this is a little funny. You throw something together for dinner, trying to shake things up a little, and that small, insignificant side dish becomes one of your oldest daughter’s most favorite childhood dishes. Not my Dad’s excellent chili or his bechamel sauce with seafood over linguine. Not my Mom’s homemade bread, which, if I close my eyes, I can smell right now, salty butter melting all over it and dripping with honey. And certainly not the oatmeal raisin cookies my brother and I once made with garlic powder instead of cinnamon. My Mom wouldn’t let us bake and serve those, but Nathan and I did eat the dough. But let me back up a little.
When I was a kid, my parents used to make pan fried noodles. These are not connected in any way to Asian cooking. They were literally egg noodles fried in a pan. Well, not just any pan. In an enormous cast iron pan with 4 inch high sides. It was like a kettle or dutch oven, but it had a handle on it like a skillet. I assume they still own this phenomenon, as I have never seen one anywhere else so I don’t know how they would ever replace it. I cannot even begin to count how many pounds of hamburger with a diced onion I browned in that skillet, or batches of beef storganoff I mixed together. And it was perfect to fry up a batch of noodles. Now, this whole process is so easy its a little embarrassing. You take some noodles and fry them. Yup. That’s it. Its a little astonishing that this was my favorite meal to make in college. Or that when my husband was deployed and I was facing months of nights cooking for only one person (something I do NOT like to do), that this was my go to meal. My quick, easy, comforting and always tasty plate of goodness. I will also add that with the exception of cereal, it is quite possibly the only meatless dish that I would pass off as a meal. I would add leftover pulled chicken if I had it on hand, but…I can’t believe I am saying this…its better without. As a kid, we ate it as a side dish with a protein and a vegetable. It took a large bag of egg noodles and I don’t recall leftovers. After learning to cook meals for 8 people, half of them boys and all of us athletes, it took years for me to scale back my portions when preparing food. This recipe is perfect for a family of four. I have added a few things over the years that my parents never bothered with. I am pretty sure they just poured vegetable oil in the hot pan and dumped in cooked noodles. Maybe some salt. Mine is a bit more interesting, but every bit as true to the original.
1/2 bag of egg noodles, cooked according to pkg directions
1 T canola or olive oil
1 T butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, optional
Add the oil and butter to a skillet and heat over med high heat till foam subsides. Add noodles and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Let the noodles fry for a minute or two. If you toss them around they will steam and turn mushy without getting crispy. Once they start to get some color, toss them a bit, letting them get crunchy, but not burnt. Toss them a third time and pull off the heat. If desired, top with Parmesan cheese.
Note: I used to use the cheapest curly egg noodles I could find. When I found out the nutritional difference between those and the yolk free or cholesterol free noodles, I switched. The curliness of the noodles fries up much better than any other kind I have tried. Also, I use butter for flavor and oil so that I can fry at a higher temperature. Feel free to use all heart healthy oils, but if you use all butter, it will burn the edges of your noodles before they can get crispy.