Saturday, November 22, 2008

Climbing a tree...

Next recipe up in my attempt to cook through Land of Plenty is "Ants climbing a tree".
It's yet another noodle dish, and it's also a classic sichuan noodle dish. These kind of recipes are great, since they're pretty simple dishes without a lot of ingredients or advance preparation, and they're packed with flavor.

In the case of "Ants...", this was about as quick and easy as you can get. The noodles are bean thread noodles, so they don't need to be boiled, just soaked in hot water for about 15 minutes (I guess that's kind of a wash, though, since you're either boiling for 15 minutes or soaking for 15 minutes).

The recipe, like many of the noodle recipes in the book, doesn't use much meat (only 1/4 lb of pork (but I went with ground turkey, since it was on sale)), and other than some scallions that need to be sliced, there's no prep other than measuring out the various seasonings, which include chili-bean paste, light and dark soy sauces, and shaoxing rice wine. Other than some chicken broth (and I admit, I cheated and went with the stuff in a box because I didn't feel like thawing out some homemade), that's it.

I paired the noodles with an eggplant dish I made long ago (see the write up )
The eggplant dish paired well, since the eggplant softened some of the heat of the noodles (which were, like many of the dishes in this cookbook, pretty spicy), even though the eggplant was liberally spiced with chili flakes. Plus, I plain love cilantro, and I made sure to liberally sprinkle cilantro all over.

Overall, tasty, fast, and good on a wednesday night. What's not to like?

Here's the recipe for "Ants climbing a tree":
1/4 lb bean thread noodles
1 tsp shaoxing rice wine (or sherry)
1/4 lb ground pork or beef (or turkey)
peanut oil
3 tsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp chili bean paste
1 2/3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
3 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced

Soak the noodles in hot water for 15 minutes. While the noodles soak, add the rice wine and a couple pinches of salt to the ground meat, and mix well.

Stir fry the ground meat with 1 tsp of light soy sauce in 2 tbsp oil in a wok (or frying pan) until lightly browned and crispy. Add the chili bean paste, and stir fry until the oil is red and fragrant. Add the stock and the drained noodles, and stir well. Add the dark soy (for color) and season with the remainder of the light soy to taste.

Bring the stock to a boil, and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated/absorbed. Add the scallions, mix well, and serve.

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