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The holidays are just around the corner, and if you’re like me, you’re trying to figure out how to not make cooking an all-day affair. As I’ve learned over time, one of the easiest ways to do it is to invest in a few quality sheet pans because the recipe possibilities are endless and the clean-up time is short. Fan-favorite Kitchn sheet pan recipes like crispy gnocchi and veggies or super simple ones with only three ingredients are perfect entry points to try your hand at sheet pan cooking. (And if you’re wondering if a pan you already have qualifies as a sheet pan, your answer is right here.)
Whether you’re new to sheet-pan cooking or have a few warped pans under your belt, get ready to preheat your oven. Cookbook author and podcaster Hetty Lui McKinnon’s new Crispy Sheet Pan Noodles with Glazed Tofu — that she calls a 2.0 version of her sheet pan chow mein found in her latest cookbook, To Asia, With Love — sounds like a winner for the cold nights ahead. In the NYT Cooking recipe exclusive, Hetty’s key ingredients include pantry-staple items like instant ramen noodles (yep, the same ramen you loved as a kid), soy sauce, maple syrup, and extra-firm tofu. Tip: Use extra-firm tofu, not silken or regular, as the recipe calls for because it contains less water, making it perfect for high temperatures and slicing once baked.
How is it possible to evenly bake instant ramen noodles in the oven, you ask? Well, according to the recipe notes, “contrasting textures are a signature characteristic of Cantonese chow mein.” Once baked, it’s perfectly acceptable (and desired) to find textures similar to crispy fried noodle strands tangled with tender ones, and this is “achieved with the help of a sheet pan and an intensely hot oven.”
The “very flexible and forgiving recipe,” as one fan calls it, can be amended based on your preferences. So if you like spicy foods, take the advice of one fan that recommends adding more garlic and subbing the sesame oil for hot sesame oil.
One word of advice for those just starting out: Save yourself from hours of cleaning and line your sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You’ll thank yourself later.
If this pan-sheet noodle meal sounds like something you’d like, check out the full recipe here.