Tag Archives: noodles

Noodles

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I came back from the Bang Bang Asian supermarket in Colindale two nights ago laden with all sorts of goodies, but I missed the most vital ingredient – noodles. I have this habit of buying bags and bags of them – Udon, Soba, Ramen Lo Mein and they then get stuffed into a cupboard and forgotten about. So this time I held back from buying any – I walked past aisle upon aisle of them, secretly wanting to buy them all but forcing myself not to, given the stash that was awaiting me when I got home. And so when Immie asked for Ramen yesterday, I was ecstatic – the perfect opportunity to use the fancy king oyster mushrooms and chines chives I’d bought just two nights ago while also using up a decent chunk of my noodle cache. Of course when I looked, I had no Ramen, no Soba, no Udon – in fact all I had was a small bag of super fine rice vermicelli – so this recipe is pretty much ramen without the ramen. Actually it’s probably closer to Pho. In reality, it’s neither, but It’s really good and ridiculously simple so I’m going to write it down anyway…

Noodles
Take a lemongrass stalk, peel off the outer layer and split it down the middle (you’re going to fish this out at the end), then slice a thumb of ginger, a red chilli, four cloves of garlic, the stalks of a handful of coriander leaves, a couple of large king oyster mushrooms (or lots of normal ones, or pretty much any white/pale mushrooms you fancy), julienne a carrot and stick everything in a large saucepan with a couple of litres of stock (chicken preferably), a few splashes of rice vinegar and fish sauce, a little salt and pepper (maybe even Szechuan peppercorns if you like) and bring it all to the boil. In the meantime, in a separate pan stick your preferred noodles in boiling water and heat them for a few minutes (check the pack for how long as they all differ).

When the noodles are ready, portion them into bowls and cover them in your broth along with a good squirt of lime juice and a handful of chopped coriander leaves. Add soy sauce to taste.

It’s hot, sour, savoury and spicy – perfect for a chilly winter’s day…

From Beijing to Hangzhou (via Changsha)

Tea picking

I suspect many westerners have a handful of preconceptions about China, primarily driven by what we see on the news and read in the papers, and all coloured by the protests that took place in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and the terrible government backlash that ensued.

But if you visit, I think you’ll see a very different place to the one you are expecting. People are more enthusiastic, more intelligent, more energetic, more interesting, more opinionated and enjoying life more than most people I meet in London. Everywhere you look, people are going about their daily business in the same way people do here in the UK. Of course the press is controlled by the government, and Twitter and Facebook are blocked and replaced by Chinese versions that are automatically monitored and censored (mainly through keyword searches), and of course there are serious human rights issues that are a real concern. But despite all that I think it’s fair to say that for the vast majority of people, life over there is just as it is over here. Business is booming, people have good jobs, eat good food (far better than we do), drink lots of beer, go to bars, drink more beer, play dice, drink more beer and fall down. Oh and they smoke a lot. Really, all the time. Remember when you used to have an intercourse fag at the dinner table? (about 20 years ago…) They still do that in China. I hesitate in saying this for fear of my own little backlash, but that’s pretty cool…

And so to the food. Wonderful. Fantastic. Unbelievably good. And not at all like the british Chinese food we get to eat over here (mainly I think, because we generally eat Cantonese food here in the UK, rather than Mandarin). Every meal feels like a banquet, and rice is rarely served. Normally about 20-30 dishes, all shared and all perfectly balanced with each other: pork (Chairman Mao style is the best), steamed fish, fried fish, soup, noodles, pak choi, beef, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, beans, prawns, snails, duck (although the tongues are not my faves) and tofu. Always tofu. What is so perfect is that everyone helps themselves from the centre of the table and takes only what they enjoy and only what they need.

So rather than trying to describe how it was all prepared (I have no clue), I’ll just leave you with a little peek at some of the dishes (with a few of the more challenging ones thrown in for fun – there were very few of them, but they have to be included for balance) – oh and the odd funny sign. No photo album is complete without a photo of a funny sign…

Thanks Fan, Jacqueline and Watson…