Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dan dan noodles!

Here is a speed-bomb noodle recipe when you get home late from work and there is no supper plan. (Well, not TOTALLY speed-bomb, but pretty quick.) Ingredients are sichuan pepper, chiles, ground meat, soy sauce, hot pepper oil, tahini, something green, and noodles.

Snip your chiles in half (there are 5 halves because one fell in the garbage while i was snipping) and discard the seeds. Use any dry chile, but the cheapo ones from the local chinese market (2.99 for more than you'll ever eat) are great. Add a teaspoon of whole sichuan pepper and drop it all in an oiled skillet to flavour the oil. Sichuan pepper is a weird, numbing spice that is essential to this dish. It's called hua jiao (flower pepper), and is different from our black pepper (hu jiao -- barbarian pepper), and hot peppers (la jiao). By now you probably suspect that jiao has something to do with pepper.

Once the kitchen smells all nice and spicy put the ground meat in. I used pork, but ground pretty-much-anything would be great. Hit it with a bunch of salt now. (There is supposed to be some salty kind of preserved vegetable added here. I bought some and when I opened it, it looked like it came straight out of King Tut's tomb, so i skipped it for the greens below. But you still need the saltyness!)

While the meat is cooking chop up your green stuff. I used baby bok choi.

Now it's time to prepare the sauce. One ingredient is chile oil -- I have some home made stuff (isn't it lovely and red?!)

If your tahini has turned into a layer of oil over cement because you never use it, skip it and grab some peanut butter instead. The sauce is 1 tsp ground sichuan pepper (grind your own), 4 tsp tahini (or other nut butter), 2 tbsp soy sauce, and 2 tbsp chile oil (be sure to scoop up some of the chiles at the bottom of the oil).

Once the meat is almost done, get your noodles going. Splash some soy on the meat to add more flavour. Then mix in your vegetable and about 5 minutes later it's done (and so are your noodles if you used asian ones). You can use whatever noodle you like -- even spaghetti (they're all chinese, after all).

Get a nice bowl ready (i think this could probably serve 4, but hey, I'm starving!)

Put the sauce in the bottom.

Add the noodles (udon, shown here -- i was going to use buckwheat, but switched at the last minute to make it look pseudo-authentic).

Put your meat topping on... top

And a few seconds later.... The chile heat combined with the semi-narcotic numbing of sichuan pepper is really a hoot. Don't serve with beer -- the heat in your mouth will wreck it. Cinnamon juice is very nice (4 L of water simmered with 4 sticks of cinnamon for half an hour, while it's cooling add 0.25 cup of brown sugar then keep it in your fridge for just such an occasion...mmmmm...)

Thanks to Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty for the inspiration.

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