This quick fix Chinese Pasta has saved my life. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a teeny TINY bit. But it has definitely saved mealtimes on more than one occasion. As far as meals go, it’s a triple threat because it
a) Is super easy and fast to assemble
b) Is very filling, so you can feed a lot of people if you’re serving it for afternoon tea or have something to serve on the side
c) Gets my kids to ACTUALLY EAT vegetables (!!!)
The third reason alone elevates this dish to magical status.
Crazy Desi Weekends
Weekends in a joint family home are highly unpredictable. One moment, I’m going about my usual routine, the next moment I get a phone call, “Hey, are you home? We’re coming over in half an hour!”
And suddenly, I have to figure out how to make lunch/tea-time for five stretch into lunch/tea-time for ten, all within a half an hour.
What used to be standard procedure for me whenever I was suddenly expecting guests is that I would then go into the kitchen and endeavour to make the most complicated, unique dish I could possibly make in the time allotted.
Of course, the dish would never be ready in such a short amount of time and I would end up spending the majority of the time in the kitchen working on the food while my mother-in-law kept the guests company. I’d only be able to make short, sporadic appearances in between and could only sit down once the food was served, and, shortly thereafter, it would be time for the guests to leave.
While I absolutely love to cook and try new dishes (shocker!), this was a really stressful way of cooking, and I’d often feel drained after the visit.
Letting Go of Pride
My husband would beg me to cook something simple or just let him bring something from the bakery, but I felt like I wasn’t being a good host if I did that. I thought that people now had certain expectations of how I would serve them, and I had to live up to that. Or maybe I secretly felt like I had something to prove after always being the one who didn’t know how to cook. (Woah, deep.)
Then things got really complicated, REALLY fast. My mother in law passed away and there was no one to sit with the guests, Beau got very sick and needed constant care, Kit grew up and I needed to start homeschooling him as well as continuing Beau’s studies, my father in law had a heart attack and there was a huge influx of guests coming to see him.
And so stubborn, fiercely independent, proud little me had to start saying yes to convenience. I had to start cooking for practicality, not pride. I had to serve my guests store-bought cake instead of homemade. And through all of this I started to realize something.
It’s really fun to hang out with people.
Duh, right? What I mean though, is that when I was free from the stress of expectations, I could relax and enjoy the company of my friends and family. This was something I really NEEDED, especially during such a difficult time in my life. So I saved the “special effects” cooking for when I had the time to enjoy it without rushing and switched to more practical dishes for last minute drop-ins.
Enter this Chinese Pasta.
How this Chinese Pasta saved my life
I invented this recipe on just such an occasion when these ingredients were the only thing I had on hand and the first thing I could think of that could serve a lot of people. For afternoon tea time, this recipe is more than enough for five people. If I’m cooking it for dinner for my family, I double the recipe because:
a) they REALLY love this recipe, Alhamdulilah
b) leftovers means I don’t have to make anything for tea the next day (score!)
It’s also a great hit with the kids. “Kit” can totally be tricked into eating the vegetables in this pasta if you distract him with a story and feed it to him. “Beau” is a bit older and wiser, so he picks out the vegetables, but at least he’s eating something that’s vegetable ADJACENT. I like to think that maybe he missed one or two vegetables and they have made their way into his stomach. And the veggies are boiled in the soup so that’s like veggie stock, no?
It’s okay, let me live in my happy delusion for a while.
Beau actually loves this pasta so much (Alhamdulillah), he’ll have it for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner the next day (another reason why I make this in huge batches!) As I mentioned in my previous post (Soft Ginger Cookies with Brown Butter), Beau is such a picky eater that if he likes something, then I KNOW it’s good. He’s also really picky if something is too spicy, so rest assured, the spice factor in this is normal, Inshallah.
How to make this Quick Fix Chinese Pasta work for you
I use Knorr’s Hot & Sour instant soup packets (this post is NOT sponsored by Knorr), but you could use any instant hot & sour soup you have available. You can even experiment with other soup flavors and see what you get, just play around with seasonings and spices until you get something you like.
I’ve listed a quick recipe for the chicken I use in this Chinese pasta, but honestly, most of the time I have chicken left over from my Spicy Pizza with Chicken Fajita Topping that I’ve frozen so I’ll defrost that, fry it, and toss it in the soup. If you’re really strapped for time, you could even use those ready made frozen chicken tikka bites. Just fry ’em and toss ’em in. This dish is really all about convenience.
The thing I want to emphasize is that, if you’re lucky enough to have friends and family that live near you and want to spend time with you, don’t stress out over food! It’s not about cooking a five-star meal, it’s about enjoying time with your loved ones. So if you have to cook with premade food, it’s okay. If you have to serve a reheated frozen meal, it’s okay. Even if you have to *gasp* order takeout, it’s okay.
Repeat after me: it’s okay.
Spend more time with the people you love, less time in the kitchen. Every moment is precious, and so is your sanity.
That is all.
Chinese Pasta: a Hot and Sour Quickfix
This Chinese pasta quick fix is a lifesaver when you need to get a filling meal on the table in 30 minutes. A must-have recipe for every busy homemaker!
- 200 g chicken boneless, cut in cubes/chunks
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp red chili powder
- 1/8 tsp black pepper (plus more for seasoning)
- 1 small green chili chopped
- 400 g shell pasta
- 1 packet Knorr Chinese hot and sour soup (or any other instant hot & sour soup that can prepare 3 cups)
- 1 cup frozen vegetables
- 100 g (1 medium size) onion chopped
- 100 g (1 medium size) green bell pepper (capsicum) chopped
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 tbsp hot sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (or to taste)
- spring onion, diagonally cut (for garnishing)
Combine the ginger paste, garlic paste, salt, red chili powder, black pepper and chopped green chili. Marinate chicken in this mixture while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Cook pasta to package directions, drain and set aside.
In a pot, add instant soup packet contents, 750ml water (or as needed to prepare 3 cups of soup), vegetables, onion and green bell pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
While the soup is coming to a boil, heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken. When brown and cooked through, add to the soup. Cook for three minutes.
Add the beaten egg slowly into the soup, stirring continuously. Cook for two more minutes.
Add the hot, Worcestershire and soy sauces and stir to combine.
Combine prepared mixture with pasta in serving dish.
Garnish with spring onion and season with black pepper to taste.