Sniffy nose noodles

07Jan09

noodlesTo start the beginning of this new year, I am going to share one of my favorite recipes with you: Chinese noodles, also known as “one-spoon noodles” or “sniffy nose noodles” because it takes a spoonful of all kinds of Chinese ingredients to give these noodles their wonderful kick – and a sniffy nose while eating them! The strands of noodles are darkened by a yummy soy, sesame, garlic & chili sauce, covered by a dark sauce with minced meat, have some nice greens on the side, and are beautifully sprinkled with spring onions and crushed peanuts on top. Because you mix the ingredients of the sesame sauce in each bowl, it is very easy to adjust this recipe to everyone’s taste: some like chili oil, some don’t eat meat sauce, some love extra sesame paste.. whatever.

I thought I blogged about these noodles ages ago, but found I really didn’t – I guess it is one of these recipes you have made for years now and thought everyone knew about. These Chinese one-spoon noodles are a huge hit with all friends and family members, who beg for either these noodles or home made dumplings when they come over for dinner at my place.

This dish can be made easily for a large group of people. Just count the number of bowls and buy ingredients accordingly. The recipe includes 1. the uncooked sauce-in-the-bowl, 2. the meat sauce; 3. the noodles; 4. some nice greens; and 5. some chopped peanuts.

Ingredients: for each bowl, you will need:
* Noodles: 50-70 grams of noodles (uncooked weight). I prefer udon noodles now because they really take on the flavors well without losing their bite, but you could use any kind of Chinese noodles or Italian egg noodles or tagliatelle.
* Meat sauce: about 50-70 grams of minced beef (for every person) / or mixture of pork and beef; soy sauce, sichuan pepper, dried chillies, sugar, ginger, Pixian chili broad bean paste, sweet bean paste.
* Noodle bowl sauce: 1 tablespoon each of: sesame paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, white sugar, chopped Sichuan preserved vegetables, chopped spring onions, sweet bean paste (I really like this, but you can leave it out if you want), chili oil (look here if you want to make chili oil yourself), and 1/4 to 1/2 of a clove of crushed garlic.
Of course you can add more or less of all of the ingredients, or leave out ingredients if you don’t like them. It is really all up to you. I like to add as much chili oil as I can handle, because these noodles need to be eaten with sweat on your brow and a sniffy nose.

How to prepare:
1. start by making the meat sauce. Put a little oil in a wok, add 4 slices of ginger, 4 or 5 Sichuan peppercorns and 2 to 3 dry chilies if you like it spicy. Fry about 400 grams of meat until brown, then add a splash of Shaoxing rice wine, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, a spoon of sugar, 2 spoonfuls of Pixian chili broad bean sauce (substitute for sweet bean paste if you don’t like chili heat) and add some water to make a sauce. Simmer for rougly 20 minutes.
2. Fry up a handful of uncooked peanuts in some oil in a wok, careful not to burn them, then take out, drain on some kitchen paper, let cool and chop coarsely with pestle and mortar or just with your knife. Put aside.
3. Then start your preparations for cooking the noodles. Put on a large pot for boiling water and have a colander ready for draining the noodles. In the time you are working on the noodles, take out your Chinese noodle bowls and get out all the ingredients.
4. Put a spoonful of everything described above in the bowl and stir to combine, add a little hot water if it is too stiff (you might use the pasta water for this). Add extra chili oil if you like.
5. Chop a cucumber into thin julienne to serve on top of your noodles later, or blanch some bok choy or spinach. A little green touch is very appealing! I even added some vegetable stir-fry on the picture here, and some green fried Spanish peppers.
6. When your noodles are cooked, drain them and divide into the bowls. Toss the noodles immediately with the sauce, add a little hot water if it is too stiff. You can even let your guests do their own tossing.
7. Add a large spoonful of minced meat sauce and the juice on top.
8. Put some veggies to the side, then sprinkle with chopped spring onions and crushed peanuts! ENJOY!

Have napkins close by – your nose will sniff all the way! But boy, it will be good!

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