Racing Rachael: Slurp Away

So it's a hundred degrees out and what's for dinner tonight? A nice crisp salad? A no-fuss sandwich? Some grilled meat? Nope, not here. I decided on noodle bowls, the perfect hot-weather food. It's not too hot for a noodle bowl -- just crank down the a/c and eat up. But is this recipe the one you should be sweating over?

The food: Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Bowls with Scallion and Egg Pancakes. Despite the seeming incompatibility of noodle bowls and a Houston July, I had high expectations for this dish. It was so easy to prepare, which was the initial appeal. Chop up a bunch of stuff, throw it in a pot and let 'er rip.

Unfortunately, the recipe missed the mark in the taste department. In fact, the only discernible flavor was the fiery spice of red pepper flakes. Although I spent time chopping garlic and grating ginger, my time would have been better spent sipping a glass of wine, as these tastes were nonexistent. Honestly, my lips were burning and my nose was running. What a waste of good shrimp. And maybe it's just me, but the liquid-to-solid ratio seemed much more like that of a soup than a noodle bowl.

The scallion and egg pancakes were the surprisingly delicious savior of this meal. Who'd have thought that some scrambled eggs folded into a crisped tortilla and dipped in a soy-based sauce could be so delectable? I used HEB's freshly made flour tortillas, and truth be told, I'd probably eat just about anything wrapped in one of those tortillas. The eggs were tender with crispy bites of scallions, and they paired perfectly with the sweet, salty and, happily, not spicy sauce.

The time: Rachael Ray was right on this one - 30 minutes.

The verdict: After making this, I went back and read the online reviews. People raved about it. People also lessened, omitted, or substituted the red pepper flakes. Aha! Since I like the ease of preparation, I may try this one again, but with obvious adjustments to the spices. The scallion and egg pancakes are so easy and tasty -- great for a simple snack or quick lunch. The sauce would also make a great dipping sauce for potstickers.

Ways to beat the clock: Stacking the mushroom caps and the bok choy makes for speedier chopping.

Happy speedy cooking!

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