Instant noodles have played a huge part in my life. One of my favourites was Indo-Mie’s mi goreng. It was my go-to snack when I was studying late in the night. It was quick, easy and satisfying. When I was in university, I would buy a carton of the mi goreng from the Oriental shop and this would last me for months. Though I do cook from scratch, it always good to know you have “instant” food in the house especially when you were trapped, and trying to finish up a thesis.
With all the scary stories and health concerns regarding instant noodles, I have definitely cut down my consumption. However the recent horrid haze that Singapore experienced motivates me to eliminate instant noodles. In the month of June, Singapore was badly affected by Indonesia’s forest fire. The pollutant standard index was at its highest of 401. It was considered a health hazard to be outdoor and I was stuck in the house for a few days. The cause of the fire was to clear land for palm trees. Over the years, there has been a great demand for palm oil. A lot of things we used and consumed contained palm oil. Palm oil can be used to make a bar of soap to the seasoning oil found in instant noodles. As a step to reduce the demand for palm oil, I made the heart-breaking decision of not eating my favourite Mi Sedaap’s mi goreng (and any instant noodles).
However this does not mean I stop having “instant” food at home. I stockpile noodles and chicken stock in my freezer (suddenly I feel like a doomsday prepper). I particularly like Sakura’s la-mian which is fresh noodles and when cooked has a chewy texture. I have no shame in saying I am a fan of instant stock. There are really good quality packet stocks available in the supermarkets. It is a time and perhaps a money saver too.
To make this noodle soup better than any instant noodles, I pimp it up. I not just whacked in flavour into the soup, I added some shredded poached chicken and blanched asparagus, topped with coriander and fresh chillies. Paying homage to my favourite ramen stall, Marutama, I throw in a slice of lemon, giving the soup a kick of acid and balance.
Chicken-flavoured instant noodle soup
You do not need to use the list of ingredients that I have below. You can use whatever you can find in your fridge and pantry, adding your favourite food, making this noodle soup your own.
1) 90g fresh noodles (you can use la-mian, kway teow. If you only have dried noodles, you will need around 50g)
2) 100-125g skinless chicken breast
3) ¼ cup of chopped asparagus (you can also use any of your favourite leafy vegetables)
4) 250ml (or 1 cup) of chicken stock
5) 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Hua Tiao)
6) 1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
7) ½ teaspoon sesame seed oil
8) Sliced fresh chillies (optional)
9) A small handful of roughly chopped coriander (optional)
10) 1 lemon wedge
– Fill up half of a small saucepan with water and add in a pinch of salt and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, standby a slotted spoon and add in the chopped asparagus. The asparagus only need to be blanched for a few seconds. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate and set aside (there is no need to switch off the stove)
– Using the same saucepan, add in the chicken breast and poach it for 5-8 minutes (depending on how thick the chicken breast is). You can also take out the chicken breast and cut into half to check if it is cooked. Once the chicken breast is cooked, remove it with a slotted spoon and place it on the same plate as the asparagus and let it cool. Set aside.
– Remove the poaching liquid from the saucepan. Fill up half of a small saucepan with water and add in a pinch of salt and place it over a medium heat. Once the water starts to boil, add in the noodles and cook per instructed. I usually use fresh la-mian which takes about 3 minutes to cook. If you are using dried noodles, you might want to soak it in cold water for 10-15 minutes, and quickly blanch it in hot water for 1-2 minutes or until it is almost cooked. It is important not to overcook the noodles as they will be reheated later in the chicken broth. Once the noodles are cooked (it should still has a bite), drain it using a colander. Once the water is drained off, add in the sesame seed oil into the noodle and stir it around with a pair of chopsticks or a fork. The oil not just imparts fragrance but also prevents the noodles from sticking. Set aside.
– Using the same saucepan (see this is a one pot chicken noodles soup too!), place it over a medium heat, add in the chicken broth. Once the broth starts to boil, add in the Chinese cooking wine and soy sauce (if using). At this stage, you can taste and adjust. If the broth is slightly salty, it is ok. You will notice that all the ingredients we have prepped earlier have barely any seasonings. They are purposely blanched to absorb and pair with a savoury broth. If you find it really salty, add in some water to dilute the broth. Once you are happy with the broth, you can off the heat.
– Before assembling the chicken noodles soup, shred the cooked chicken breast with your hands or with a fork. You might also need to cut it into bite-sized pieces.
– To assemble, pour the broth into the serving bowl. Add the noodles into the bowl, follow by the shredded chicken, asparagus, coriander, sliced chillies (if using) and a wedge of lemon.
– I could have cooked everything in a pot but I chose to cook every ingredient separately as I think it produces a cleaner tasting (and looking) chicken noodles soup. If you really want to cook everything in a pot, the one thing I would suggest is to cook the noodles separately. This is especially important if you are cooking fresh noodles. The excess flour from the noodles might cloud the chicken broth and add a floury bitter taste.