A Final Slurp

For my final slurp I wanted to share two more recipes from my book, Oodles of Noodles. Deciding which recipes to choose was quite hard, but in the end I have opted to blog a recipe from the remaining chapters in order to give you a good balance of just what to expect from the book. So we have a pretty, Japanese-inspired noodle salad with shredded chicken, fresh cool vegetables and a traditional sesame dressing. It is an explosion of textures and flavours and the overall impression you get with the first mouthful is one of freshness and well being; perfect for a light lunch.

In contrast my second choice is a far punchier and full-on crab noodle stir-fry. I love this recipe with it’s robust sweet, hot sauce, big chunks of delicious fresh cooked crab and wonderfully slippery egg noodles. It really is worth sourcing a good seafood supplier so the fresher the crab the better. If you don’t fancy preparing the crab yourself most fishmongers will happily do this for you and as long as you keep the crab well chilled and cook the dish the same day, the crab will be fine.

Let me know how you go, I’d love to get some feedback.

Chicken noodle salad with sesame and soy dressing

RPS1796_Chicken noodle salad
Photo Ian Wallace

Serves: 4

This summer salad can be made using any Japanese noodles. When researching this book I came across these black rice noodles, which make a startling contrast to the different vegetables and micro herbs. The end result is striking.

250 g dried black rice noodles

250 g cooked chicken breast fillet

100 g radishes, trimmed

2 carrots, trimmed

125 g mange tout, trimmed

1/2 cucumber, seeded

Japanese micro herbs

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

wafu dressing

1 small shallot, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons dashi stock (see recipe page)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons caster sugar

1 teaspoon freshly grated root ginger

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Make wafu dressing

 Place all the dressing ingredients in a screw top jar and shake well until amalgamated. Use as required.

Make salad

Plunge the noodles into a large saucepan of boiling water. Return to the boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes until al dente. Drain noodles and immediately refresh under cold water, washing well to remove any remaining starch. Drain again and dry thoroughly on a clean tea towel. Place noodles in a large bowl.

Shred the chicken into pieces and add to the noodles. Prepare the vegetables. Thinly slice the radishes, thinly slice and then shred the carrot into strips, thinly shred the mange tout. Cut the cucumber into thin batons.

Arrange all the ingredients on a plate, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well together. Scatter over micro herbs and sesame seeds. Serve at once.

Crab and noodle stir-fry (Malaysia)

RPS1796_ P140 crab and noodle salad copy
Photo Ian Wallace

Serves: 4

This Malay version of Singapore crab was served to me on a trip to a small island, rather unattractively named Mud Island. However where there’s mud there are mud crabs and this tiny island on stilts, just off the west coast of Malaysia, is home to thousands of crabs and almost as many restaurants serving delicious platefuls of crab any which way. This was my choice and it was awesome.

1 onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves

3 cm piece root ginger, peeled and chopped

2 small red bird’s eye chillies

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 tablespoon shrimp paste

50 ml Shoaxing rice wine

250 ml tomato passata

250 ml chicken stock

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoons ketchup manis

1 kg fresh crab, prepared (see tip)

2 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped

400 g fresh egg noodles, or 200 g dried

shredded spring onions, to garnish

Place the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies in a blender and puree to make a smooth paste, stir in the shrimp paste. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the paste for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add the rice wine and simmer for 1 minute then stir in the passata, stock, soy sauce and ketchup manis and cook for 10 minutes until thickened.

Add the prepared crab and spring onion, stir well, cover the pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes until the crab is cooked through. Meanwhile, plunge the noodles into a large saucepan of boiling water and cook for 4 minutes until al dente. Drain the noodles, shake well to remove excess water and transfer to a large platter. Spoon the crab sauce over the top and serve sprinkled with extra spring onions.

 Tip: Its best to use a live crab for this, so ask your fishmonger to kill the crab for you and if possible to cut the crab up ready to stir-fry. Alternatively view the process online to see how to do it yourself. If you can’t face this use 1 kg cooked crab claws, cracking the shells with a hammer and continue as above

 

 

Slurp……..again

Having hopefully got taste buds tingling with my first noodle recipe last week, a spicy beef pho, I thought I would opt for something totally different in this week’s post. Noodles come in all shapes and sizes from the long thin, slippery and slurpy noodles of the Vietnamese inspired soup, to the Chinese dumplings I have chosen today. Made with a fresh egg noodle dough, wonton wrappers are sold chilled or frozen in small square sheets of about 40 or so. They are available in Asian stores and online.

Chinese cooking, done well, is hard to beat and dim sum is a good example of just how difficult this can be. There are hundreds of restaurants (around the world) serving cheap, yes, but not great dim sum. However when you bite into a light, sleek, soft steamed dumpling to discover the delights inside it can be pure bliss. So with this I wish everyone a very happy Chinese New Year.

Steamed Rice Noodle Dumplings with Scallops

RPS1796_P46 scallop dumplings

Serves: 4

I love steamed dumplings and these are just about my favourite type. Dim sum or yum cha (as it’s known in Australia) was always a great lunch out for us – officious waiters pushing trolleys with towering bamboo steamers full of different dumplings and other delights

250 g shelled scallops (with out corals)

50 g water chestnuts, drained and chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic chives

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

24 wonton wrappers

Szechuan chilli dressing

100 ml sunflower oil

1-2 teaspoons dried red chilli flakes

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon black vinegar

2 teaspoons caster sugar

1/4 teaspoon Szechuan pepper

a little sunflower oil, for cooking

shredded spring onions, to garnish

Make the dressing

Heat the oil in a small saucepan until it just starts to shimmer, remove from the heat and stir in the chilli flakes. Set aside for 30 minutes and then strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Make the dumplings

Trim the scallops, cutting away the grey muscle attached at one side and cut into small dice. Place in a bowl with the chestnuts, garlic, chives, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil and stir well.

Lay the wrappers flat on a board and place a teaspoon of the scallop mixture in the centre. Brush around the edges with a little water and draw the sides up and around the filling pressing together to seal. Transfer each one to a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Pop the base of each dumpling in a dish of oil and transfer to a medium-sized bamboo steamer. Cover and steam over a pan of simmering water for about 10-12 minutes until firm and cooked through. Serve with the dressing, garnished with shredded spring onions.

Slurp……….

Twelve months ago (hard to believe how fast last year passed by) I was in London working on my latest cook book for best ever publishers Ryland, Peters & Small. The book, Oodles of Noodles was published later in the year and has been very well received – it’s always a thrill to know that not only has a book been published, but people have bought, read and cooked from it – so I wanted to share some of the recipes over the next few weeks.

The recipes were inspired by my travels throughout Asia as well as my years spent in Sydney which is chock full of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Korean restaurants. Hopefully you will enjoy cooking and eating them as much as I did researching, developing, writing and testing the recipes.

I also hope you enjoy the evocative images so beautifully shot by Ian Wallace and styled by the very talented stylist Tony Hutchinson. Thanks also to to Sonia, Leslie and Julia at RPS.

I am beginning with the title recipe, a fabulous Vietnamese soup. Enjoy…….

Vietnamese beef pho

RPS1796_Pho bo copy

Serves: 4

When I am visiting a city with a Vietnamese population I always try and make a trip to wherever the majority of Vietnamese have settled so I can treat myself to an authentic beef pho. It’s the large baskets of colourful herbs and condiments that give this classic soup its freshness and that unique flavour and texture I love so much.

1 kg beef short ribs

5 cm piece root ginger, sliced and bruised

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

3 whole star anise, bruised

2 cinnamon sticks, bruised

400 g dried rice stick noodles

350 g beef fillet, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caster sugar

juice 1 lime

125 g bean sprouts, trimmed

garnishes

2 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped

a handful each of fresh Thai basil, Vietnamese mint and coriander

6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

Put the beef ribs in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer fast for 10 minutes then drain and wash ribs. Return ribs to the pan and add 2 litres more cold water along with the ginger, onion, garlic, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 11/2 hours or until the meat is tender.

Remove the ribs from the stock and set aside to cool. Thinly shred the meat discarding bones. Strain the stock through a fine sieve and let cool. Refrigerate both the meat and the stock overnight.

The next day, soak the noodles in hot water for 20 minutes, drain and shake dry. Divide noodles between 4 large soup bowls. Meanwhile, remove the layer of fat from the cold stock and return the pan to the heat until boiling. Stir in the shredded meat, raw beef, fish sauce, salt, sugar and lime juice. Spoon the soup over the noodles and top with the bean sprouts. Serve soup with a plate of the garnishes in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.