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Midnight Noodles: An Easy Recipe for When You’re Tired & it’s Late

Updated: Sep 28, 2017 11:09
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I don’t really care for pasta. One of my first restaurant jobs was hostess, then a waitress, then a line cook at Old Spaghetti Factory circa 1999; I was 18-years-old. They always offered us free shift meals and it was always pasta. When I went to culinary school, it seemed every staff meal was pasta. Over the years, I think I’ve accumulated pasta fatigue. In this recipe I normally use rice noodles, but the pantry was running low and all that I had was spaghetti. This can sometimes happen when you’ve just pulled a double shift on the line that feels like a marathon and then you no doubt launched several booze missiles into your mouth. You’ll probably want to eat something and you might be too damn busy to keep your pantry stocked. Assuming you have a pantry. Hell, even if you’re just a lazy person who doesn’t want to spend more than 30-minutes on a dish, Midnight Noodles are for you.

The amount of bok choy in this recipe could definitely be amped up. I used two medium size stalks and even with adding the leafy tops right at the end, it didn’t amount of much. I’d go full thrust mode and add five medium stalks/8 baby bok choy stalks and some cabbage. In the end you have something quick and yet comforting; slightly spicy at the end, sweet, salty, funky and verdant from the fresh herbs. More importantly, this dish is so much better the next day after it has had time to sit in the pan sauce.

Interchanges: Obviously, you don’t have to use shrimp, you can use chicken breast. You don’t have to use bokchoy, you can use cabbage or broccoli. You don’t have to use chili garlic paste, you can use sriracha. And you don’t need to use tamarind, just use more lime.

Midnight Noodles

Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 TB ginger, minced
  • 5-8 baby bokchoy, bottoms thinly sliced // tops chopped chunky
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1 handful of basil
  • 1 LB 31/40 shrimp, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 TB Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 2 limes
  • 2 TB of tamarind paste, soaked in hot water
  • 1/2 LB spaghetti


  1. Boil your pasta water.
  2. In a bowl, combine chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, tamarind water.
  3. Slice onion in half, peel, keep core intact, slice into crescents. This way most of the onion disintegrates. Mince garlic and ginger.
  4. Separate your bokchoy stems and tops.
  5. Plunk your pasta into your boiling water.
  6. Over medium heat, slowly cook your onions, ginger and garlic. Yes, you want some browness in your onions, 3-5 mins. Keep an eye on this mixture, add some chicken stock to the mixture. Add your bokchoy stems to the mixture, continue cooking 2 mins. Add a pinch of brown sugar and your fish sauce to the mixture. Let bubble and reduce. Add 1/4 of your stock and tamarind water to the mixture, let bubble and reduce.
  7. Add the rest of your tamarind water sauce.
  8. Add your shrimp. Flip them over after 1 minute, ensuring they’re coated in the sauce, 2 mins.
  9. With tongs, pull out your pasta and plunge it directly into your shrimp mixture. Coat in sauce. Add your herbs and bokchoy tops. Coat in sauce. Turn the heat off and let pasta sit in sauce for as long as you can stand. The longer it sits and absorbs the sauce, the more delicious it’ll be.
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