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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Shanghai Noodles

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This dish is best made with a thick chewy noodle and finished with a generous sprinkling of white pepper. You can watch your noodles being made in the restaurants and kiosks of Shanghai - it's considered entertainment. Shanghai, an old city systematically leveled and then rebuilt to look old again, was especially welcoming to us this past May. We were in China during the May earthquake - let me quickly add that we were never in any danger and inconvenience was the only consequence we had to deal with. When the quake began we were on a train about 140 miles from the epicenter in Chengdu and, while we felt the tremor, we thought a bad patch of track had caused the violent shaking and brought the train to a stop. It wasn't until the army and local militia swarmed onto the rail beds that we had any idea that something was seriously wrong. We sat on the train for about six hours while they checked the tracks before allowing us to proceed to Xi'an. We continued our adventure but the almost European sophistication of Shanghai, the luxury of a bubble bath and a bowl of these steaming noodles was truly welcome when finally got there. These noodles are found everywhere in Shanghai. They have a warm, stick to your ribs quality that make them as comforting as Mom's chicken soup. They lack the heat of pepper and chile found in so many Chinese noodle dishes; the flavor comes, instead, from a perfect blend of oyster and soy sauce that binds tender pork and cabbage into an amalgam that warms the stomach and the heart. Chinese chefs have a unique way of cooking noodles. Water is brought to a boil, noodles are added, then cold water is added and the mixture is brought to a boil again. The procedure is repeated until the noodles are barely tender. The whole procedure takes about 3 minutes when using freshly prepared noodles. I'm not sure it improves the noodles but it's sure interesting to watch. I really shouldn't say that - anyone who has ever worked with fresh noodles knows how quickly they become paste; the addition of the cold water prevents that from happening. This is a great recipe - I hesitate to add that there as many recipes for Shanghai noodles as there are for Mom's chicken soup, so my rendering is just one of many in the pot. It's not expensive and it's easy to do.

Shanghai Noodles - Shanghai Mian
Ingredients:
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
12 ounces pork tenderloin, thinly sliced in strips
1 pound fresh Chinese style noodles or 1/2 pound dry pasta
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 green onions cut into 2-inch pieces then julienned
3 cups sliced Napa cabbage, white and green kept separate
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
White pepper to taste

Directions:
1) In a 1-quart bowl combine tamari, oyster sauce, sugar, ginger and pork. Toss to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes. Drain saving marinade.
2) Cook noodles per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
3) Heat vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan over high heat. Add pork and stir fry until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate.
4) Add half the garlic slices and all the green onion and the white part of the cabbage. Stir fry until softened, about 30 seconds. Add the pork, reserved marinade and green portion of cabbage; stir fry until cabbage wilts, about 30 seconds.
5) Add noodles. Toss. Dissolve cornstarch in chicken stock and pour over noodles. Toss to coat noodles. Transfer to a serving platter.
6) Warm sesame oil in a small saucepan until smoking. Add reserved garlic and cook till fragrant. Pour over noodles. Season to taste with pepper. Yield: 4 servings.

I'm sending this recipe to Vanielje Kitchen who is hosting Presto Pasta Nights # 89.

9 comments :

Ruth Daniels said...

What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your adventure AND your wonderful version of Shanghai Noodles with Presto Pasta Nights.

Peter M said...

I've been using more Napa cabbage of late, it's a delish, healthy ingredient and cooks in no time.

Aggie said...

This looks like a tasty pasta dish...I would love to make this. The flavors sounds so good.

Question - Can I sub fish sauce for oyster sauce? I have bottles of fish sauce in the pantry and don't really have any recipes to use them...

Mary said...

Aggie, I do not recommend that substitution. Oyster sauce is a thick, dark molasses like product that has a very unique flavor. I will be posting some recipes using fish sauce in the next few weeks. For the most part it's used in Thai dishes in combination with fresh lime juice and it just won't work here.

Jin Hooi said...

Looks delicious !! I love shanghai noodles and definately will give ur recipe a try ;-) thanks for sharing

Mary said...

Jin, I'm so glad you stopped by. I hope you'll visit often.

Aggie said...

Mary, thanks for letting me know! I'll keep a look out for oyster sauce, I assume I can find it in the Asian part of my grocery store...I'll also be checking back to see more recipes with fish sauce! This type of cooking is something I really want to do more, but have no experience with the ingredients yet.

Jodi said...

This dish looks delicious! Thanks for sharing!

Mary said...

Jodie, thanks for stopping by. Come again!

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