Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spicy Chinese Style Noodles

This is not an outstandingly authentic Chinese recipe; it's more in the line of making-do with what you can find in small-town grocery stores where there is not much if any Chinese population. I had seen a few Chinese noodle recipes that called for cucumbers and since I still had some to use up from the packet I bought last week I decided to give it a go, using just what was already in the house. We thought it was pretty good actually!

Cooked cucumbers end up much like cooked zucchini, only more bland. I'm not really excited by them. These go in so close to the last moment though, that although their flavour becomes milder, they still taste like cucumbers and they have a little crunch. Do be careful not to overcook them - they should be in the pan for just a minute or two. 

As ever, the correct amount of noodles to cook is the amount you intend to eat. I have broken the list of ingredients into 2 sections according whether they get boiled and/or added to the skillet at the last moment, or whether they get cooked in the skillet longer. Both these things need to be happening at the same time though, so do read the whole recipe before starting (always a good plan...)

2 to 4 servings
40 minutes prep time

Spicy Chinese Style Noodles

Cook the Meat Etc.:
2 large chicken thighs
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons finely minced peeled fresh ginger
4 to 6 large shallots OR green onions
100 grams (1/4 pound) shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons chicken fat or mild vegetable oil

Cut the bone out of the chicken thighs (if it is there) and chop them into smallish bite-sized pieces. Put the meat into a bowl to marinate in the soy sauce, vinegar, and bean paste while you prepare other things; about 20 minutes.

Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger, and put it aside in a small bowl with the garlic. Peel and sliver the shallots, or trim and julienne the green onions. Remove the caps from the shiitakes and discard the stems. Dice the caps.

When there is approximately 10 minutes left for the noodles to cook (which, depending on the noodles may actually be once the water boils but before they go into it,) heat the fat or oil in a large skillet over high heat. Dump in the meat with the marinade ingredients, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the shallots and shiitakes. (If you are using green onions hold off adding them until the last few minutes of cooking). When they have softened, browned and cooked down some, add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Cook the Noodles Etc.:
150 to 200 grams (5 to 6 ounces) wheat noodles
1 medium-large carrot
3 to 4 small greenhouse cucumbers
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
1 handful of chopped cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
1 to 2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce
OR hot pepper flakes to taste

Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the noodles and cook them according to the package instructions. You can throw the carrots in for the last 2 minutes of cooking if you prefer them not to be too crunchy; you may wish to allow an extra minute to cook the noodles, to cope with the fact that they cool the water down some.

Peel the carrot and cut it into julienne. Wash and trim the cucumbers, and cut them into julienne. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, dry, and chop the cilantro, if wanted.

When the noodles are done, drain them well. As noted, the carrot can go in with the noodles or add them now, with the noodles and cucumbers, to the pan of chicken and sauce. Mix in well and cook for a minute or two, until the noodles are well coated in the sauce and everything is fairly evenly distributed. The carrots and cucumbers should be just wilted. Sprinkle the garlic, sesame oil, chile-garlic sauce or hot pepper flakes over the noodles and mix in well.

Serve the noodles up at once, sprinkled with a little chopped cilantro if you like.




Last year at this time I made Ham & Cheese French Toast

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