I must confess to being a little taken aback. In my last post, I mentioned two minute noodles. Without any explanation. Sorry.
I try to be careful about this. If I am using words or concepts that I know are uniquely South African, I try my best to translate or explain. If that’s too tricky, I just avoid them.
This is why you will never read my absolutely fantastic post about the time I took 2kg of kudu biltong to a friend’s braai by mistake. He had asked me to bring the wors, and thinking he meant droewors, I decided to go for biltong instead. He actually meant boerewors. It was hilarious. We still laugh about it today. Luckily his wife had made enough sosaties to sink a battleship, and there was pap, so the braai turned out OK.
For those of you not from here, that was all in perfectly acceptable English, all found in English dictionaries and none of it slang. We just, like most countries, have some things that are uniquely ours. I did not think that two minute noodles were one of those things. Apparently they are.
And so, in the interests of educating the world, I’m going to tell you about two minute noodles. I’m even going to teach you how to cook them. Who knows, if that goes well, I may even teach you how to braai a sosatie! Yes, good people, you are seeing the first and very probably last in a series of posts I will call “Gourmet Cooking with 23thorns”!
Two minute noodles are the go-to food for the unwashed masses. And children of all classes. The unwashed masses like them because they cost four Rand a packet. That’s about fifty US cents. Students live on them, and if, like me, you become alarmed about where all your money has gone about two thirds of the way through the month, you can survive on them until payday. Children like them because they aren’t very good for you.
The gold standard for two minute noodles is a brand called Maggi’s Two Minute Noodles.
These are the Rolls Royce of two minute noodles. The benchmark. All two minute noodles consist of a dried out cake of stringy Chinese noodles. That’s standard. But there’s also a sachet of flavouring, and that’s what sets Maggi’s apart. It’s got monosodium glutamate in it, just like a five star Chinese restaurant! But that’s not all. It also has; E621, E627 & E631 (flavour enhancers), E330 (an acidity regulator), E501, E466, E466, E339, & E500 (stabilisers, making Maggi’s one of the most stable foods on the market!), and E150 & E101 (colourants. Yes, someone has worked very hard to achieve a washed out grey colour!)
But that’s not all! That little sachet has been irradiated. Irradiated! Truly, this is a meal for the nuclear age! You won’t find that sort of thing at some crappy organic market! Not unless the hippies have somehow built themselves a backyard reactor.
My favourite, though, is a brand called Mewo. Because with Mewo, you get three sachets!
There’s the standard bag of flavouring, with all its little numbers, but that’s not all! There’s a bag of oil too! Unless it’s a little older. Then it’s a bag of rancid butter. And there’s even a bag of vegetables!
Or so they say. I suspect it’s a bag of those children’s toys that you throw into water that expand to 400% of their original size.
Mewo is always a bit of a gamble though. It can be dangerously unstable, and the acidity is completely unregulated.
Enough boring details. Let’s get cooking. First of all, ignore the instructions on the packet. They may make good noodles, but these people are philistines! They will tell you to bring a pot of water to boil, throw in the cake of dried noodles, add the sachets, and boil for two minutes. Have you ever? That’s not how you treat fine food!
I’m going to share with you the proper recipe. As in all cooking, preparation is key.
What you’ll need:
1 packet of two minute noodles.
1 kettle of boiling water.
First, bring you kettle of water to boil. While this is happening, and before you open the packet, smash the noodles into tiny fragments with your fist. This will allow you to eat your noodles with a novelty teaspoon.
Next, open the bag and pour your noodles into the bowl.
Add your sachet of irradiated chemicals. Some people prefer to add the irradiated chemicals after adding the water, but I feel that adding them beforehand startles the chemicals into full wakefulness, enhancing the flavour and the mild narcotic effect of the monosodium glutamate.
Pour in the water while it is boiling vigorously. Don’t make the rookie mistake of simply covering the noodles. Those babies are going to swell like an angry puffer fish. Fill the bowl to the brim and cover with a plate.
Wait two minutes.
Drain the water by holding the plate firmly against the bowl and turning upside down over the sink. This is going to send a stream of near boiling water gushing over your hand. Man up. Gourmet cooking isn’t for drama queens.
Serve. With a novelty teaspoon.
That, of course, is just your very basic recipe. One of the greatest things about two minute noodles is their versatility. There is just so much you can do with these things.
There’s two minute noodle soup:
Not the greatest for kids, but perfect for adults who are using two minute noodles to replace food.
There’s the two minute noodle salad, for the health freaks out there:
Two minute noodles with egg:
Two minute noodles with cheese:
Two minute noodles with sausage:
The list is as long as your imagination!
Putting a meal together with two minute noodles.
A plain bowl of two minute noodles makes for a perfect quick snack. And a wonderful meal for children when their mother isn’t home. When their mother is home, things are a little more complicated. But two minute noodles still form the backbone of many a meal. Like chicken noodle surprise.
Chicken noodle surprise.
Serves two children.
What you will need.
Two succulent skinned chicken breasts.
We try to go for free range chicken, and not eat it too often. Here in sunny South Africa, we battle to enforce laws about not shooting each other, so food safety laws are pretty far down the list. The chicken is pumped so full of hormones that if you give too much of it to your kids the girls hit puberty at five and the boys grow breasts.
One large carrot.
One carrot may not seem to be a lot for two small children, but those of you who have actually attempted to get any sort of vegetable inside a child will know that one is more than enough. You can use a store bought one, but I find it’s best to grow your own. Not only is it healthy, it’s a wonderful educational opportunity. The kids can ignore you as you plant the seeds, fight over the hose and use it to spray each other as you tend your crops, and then injure themselves with a spade come harvest time.
Two cherry tomatoes
Again, this may not seem like a lot, but bear in mind that no-one actually eats cherry tomatoes. Not even adults; unless they are filled with self-loathing and have some sort of personality disorder (eating cherry tomatoes is the grown-up equivalent of cutting). Again, it’s best to grow your own, but bear in mind that this will involve standing in the garden with a tennis racket throughout the growing season (the birds ‘round here all have personality disorders, and are filled with self-loathing).
Two slices of watermelon.
Try to ignore any rumours you might have heard about the largest and most succulent watermelons having been grown down in the sewers. If you find any dried bits of toilet paper stuck to the outside of your watermelon, relax. I’m sure it was just used as packing material.
Two packets of two minute noodles.
One kettle of water.
Beat the unopened packets of noodles into submission before opening and pouring into two bowls. Add the sachets of irradiated flavouring. Place on one side.
Begin to cook the chicken breasts. Steaming is always a healthy option, but I prefer to use George Foreman’s Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine, because retired heavyweight boxers are second only to medical doctors in their knowledge of healthy nutrition.
While the chicken is cooking, carve the watermelon slices into two pairs of lips. Remember that if, like most responsible parents, you have told your children that eating watermelon seeds causes appendicitis, you will have to remove the seeds.
Place on the plate.
Scrape off the outside of your carrot and cut into long, thin strips. If you’re not in the mood for this, you can just julienne them.
Place three strips of carrot on either side of the plate as eyes.
Your chicken breasts should be ready now. Place one on each place as a nose.
You should now have two recognisable faces looking back at you.
Round them off by slicing the cherry tomatoes in two and placing them on the carrot “eyes”, and chopping up the remaining carrots to use as hair.
Voila! A healthy, fun meal that should give the children a smile as well as an energy boost.
Turn on the kettle, take the food through to the children, and serve!
After 45 minutes of tears, sulking, whining and complaining (The children will probably be a little unhappy, too), take the untouched chicken dish back through to the kitchen.
The kettle should still be hot. Turn it on to bring it back up to the boil. While it does so, throw away the cherry tomatoes and the carrots, and eat the chicken.
Pour the boiling water over noodles and wait two minutes.
Serve with a novelty teaspoon.