It’s summer. I live at a school. There are literally two other people who live here and they speak English, just not to me. It’s cool. Whatever. We are so far away from other schools and apartment complexes that I have spent the day listening to the rain and bugs. China is the most dense country in the world and I managed to move to a small city (of a mere 4 million people) and smaller division (Oriental University City) and a small school (which is basically in the boonies for Langfang).
I tell you this because there isn’t any food within a ten minute walk of my apartment. I’m 80% sure you could walk 10 minutes anywhere else in Langfang and find a restaurant. I have to walk 30 minutes and, since it’s summer, they’re closed anyways. Okay, not all of them are closed. But the two I know how to order from are. I can get to the market, which seems to be trying to use up all of its existing inventory before ordering any more food, like milk. So about 1/3 of the shelves are empty and I still had to walk a half an hour to get there.
Now, I’m stuck with cooking. Problem: I don’t know how to cook any of this Chinese stuff! Problem 2: I don’t have a stove or an oven, I have an induction cooktop. This isn’t some sort of constant-heat stove that heats the top and it involves magnet something science whatever. The point is, due to the inconsistent heat and the temperature of it, my pots boil over a lot. 🙁 I’m working on it.
So what is a girl to do? I’m not about to go into the city to get food (that’s at least a half an hour bus ride if I can find food near Walmart) and I need to figure out how to make something. So on with the instant noodles!
Instant(ly Better) Noodles
Instant Noodles (but the Chinese kind with the spices and the oil and the dehydrated vegetables)
Uh, veggies if you want
I dunno, like, an egg? Two eggs?
Spices? Other than what’s already in the package
Whatever you want, yo
1. Artfully arrange the ingredients for a photo.
2. Fall off a chair and scrape up your shin because you’re too short to actually take a photo.
3. Successfully take a photo of the food.
4. Successfully don’t cry over your throbbing leg.
5. Put the noodles in the water in the sauce pan.
6. Turn on the accursed induction cooker thing.
7. Keep a very, very close eye on it because it will probably boil over and make a huge mess and you still haven’t gotten those dishrags that have been on your mental shopping list for months because you keep forgetting when you actually get to the supermarket.
8. Add that egg. And the dehydrated veggies, but keep those fake veggies (feggies?) away from the egg. There will be no integration in this pot!
9. Monkey with the heat. Keep turning it up and down but don’t let it properly boil. If it properly boils, this will turn out like it did yesterday with egg everywhere because the water will lift it up and bring it with.
10. Keep monkeying with the heat to convince the egg to cook damn it. The point here is poached, but in all the times you’ve made this, it’s never ended up actually poached. Usually it ends up sort of scrambled and over the side and all over the
table counter. 11. Convince yourself you have a counter top when really it’s just half of the kitchen table. *ahem*
11. Cry. Just kidding, the pain in your leg isn’t that bad. Just kidding about that integration, too. Get fed up with how long the egg is taking to cook (is it even cooking? maybe…) and how many times the pot has nearly boiled over and add in the oil and spice packets and stir that baby!
12. Chop up the veggies while it simmers. Now that the egg has been stirred in, it’s not as important to keep a close close eye on it. Still don’t let it boil over, though, that’s just a mess.
13. Around this time, add the green peppers in, too. I like to keep my veggies out, depending on which ones they are, because I don’t want them to be too mushy, ya feel? The noodles are already mushy, what do I need mushy veggies for? But if you like your veggies to be fully cooked and mushy, add them in at the same time as the dehydrated veggies under the noodles. Remember: no egg interference! It’s hard enough!
14. Turn the heat off, add the tomatoes. I always wait to add the tomatoes (almost) last because they’ll keep cooking while it sits and while you eat. That, and I don’t really like cooked tomatoes. I like to eat them raw, like apples.
15. You can either pour them into a bowl or eat them straight from the pan. I add the cucumbers last because I like the crunchy, cold contrast to the squishy, warm everything else.
16. You can change it up however you want. Different noodles, different veggies, more spices, more sauces, whatever. I’m probably going to keep experimenting, personally, but so far, this is pretty good. Especially if you consider that I hate chicken noodle soup. Add veggies, add eggs, all better.