She’s been a long time between drinks of water here in the food front, but so many people refer to Second Chef and I as “foodies” I thought I’d better not let the side down. To be honest, this recipe was shot before Chef Du Plunge was even born! The evidence is the use of asparagus, which has been out of season for many, many months.

But we can’t disappoint, and here it is.

Oyster Sauce is a wonderful ingredient you should be able to buy at your local supermarket. If you can’t, then any self-respecting Asian market will have it. The great thing about it is that it’s so easy to use, as we’ll see. Basically you just add it to your dish at the right stage, and heat it.

And what could be easier?

I’ve also flagged this as a vegetarian meal (even though oyster sauce contains “oyster extracts” – whatever the hell that means), because the chicken is entirely optional. I like it, but you can just as well survive using a decent firm tofu.

So here’s what you’ll need.

  • The aforementioned oyster sauce
  • Vegetables, preferably seasonal. When we photographed this recipe asparagus and capiscums where in, and good old broccoli too. You can and should also use Asian vegetables like bok choy, not for the authenticity, but because they’re relatively cheap and very nutritious.
  • Dried fungus, or, fresh mushrooms. They go well with the oyster sauce. Dried fungus or mushrooms can also be bought cheaply at your local Asian grocer. They’re a good dry food to store in case of emergency.
  • Egg noodles, as above.
  • Chicken, tofu, or neither.
  • A wok. A frying pan just doesn’t cut it.

And we’re off!

The very first thing to do is soak your fungus. Ideally you want to put it on to soak the night before, but the preparation time for this recipe is sometimes enough. Pretty simple really. Put the fungus in a bowl, and cover with boiling water.

Next, get to preparing your vegetables and/or meat. The chicken I’m using is a special at the supermarket, $6 for a whole heap. We haved it so that it rounds out to approximately 150g of meat per adult. That’s pretty much all you really need on a daily basis. More is… unhealthy and bad for the environment.

Make sure you wash the vegetables carefully to rid yourself of dirt and critters. A trick with asparagus is to “snap” it. If it snaps with a click, and still has the white/green difference, it’s good.

Broccoli is pretty simple. Cut off the flowers and you’re good to go. Slice capsicum. Remember that red capsicums are the sweetest, and best for this recipe.

The fungus isn’t too difficult. Usually it has an extremely hard “nubbin” that doesn’t really soften. If the water has coole enough for you to be able to reach into it, take out the fungus and slice away the nubbin. Return the fungus to the water to soak a little longer.

Right. Once all your vegetables are ready you’re all set. First, put a small pot with cold water on to boil. It should be ready to go when you need to cook the noodles.

Then, put some oil into a wok, any sort, and crank the heat right up to the top. As soon as the oil starts to heat, put your meat in. I rinsed this chicken pretty th0roughly to wash away any dodgyness from it being on special.

Cook the meat till it colours, then take it out of the wok and set it aside. You’ll return it to the wok later.

Then, clean the wok under really hot water. Once it’s clean, return it to the hot element, and re-oil. Then, start adding the vegetables, stirring as you go.

The only trick with the vegetables is to add the firmer veges first. Start with things like broccoli or cauliflower, then things like courgettes or capiscums, then very soft things like bok choy or mushrooms.

And here’s something optional. When you add the broccoli the wok will be “dry”. You can moisten it with a little rice wine, or at a pinch, rice wine vinegar. The broccoli will soak up the flavour and generally make everything more extremely delicious.

Sometime to further moisten the wok I put a little of the juice from the dried fungus into the pan. Great stuff.

Add the softer vegetables layer by layer, but not before you put your egg noodles into the boiling water to soften. I’ve only used a single bundle, because we used a lot of vegetables. Most would use one per person though. While it’s softening, add the final, softest, veges.

And now for the magical oyster sauce. Give the wok a couple of good slugs, but don’t get too carried away. It is extremely salty. Best try a small amount on your finger first to see just how much, then add it like a seasoning, not like chocolate sauce on ice cream…

Stir this all together, it’s not called a stir-fry for no reason, then return the chicken to the dish at this point. If it’s tofu, then now is the time.

The wok should still be very hot, and the dish starting to come together. The oyster sauce should be hot and sticking to all the veges. So, now is the time for the noodles. Fish them out of the water, or drain the pot in a colander, and add the noodles to the stir-fry.

At this point what you have is a well-mixed stir-fry with softened, but not soggy, vegetables.

And that only leaves one thing to do, plate up! Add the veges to your bowls, then drain the sauce onto them.

And you’re done! Enjoy!