I have no idea how authentic these are – my honest guess is ‘not at all’ – I made them to go with the spicy crab cakes I wrote up for Cooking the Books, but they’re just too good not to deserve a recipe post in their own right. There’s a sort of a dressed noodle salad vibe going on, I suppose, but served hot – though, come to think of it, they might be very good cold, too! As well as making a lovely side dish, these would make a really great quick lunch or supper dish in their own right.
Actually, I’m a little bit gutted about the timing of coming up with this recipe – I’ve spent the last two years working somewhere with no microwave to heat up lunches, and the succession of cold lunches and soup from a flask gets a bit wearisome after a while! If you were to replace the egg noodles in this recipe with the thin white rice noodles that you can cook just by adding boiling water, this would have made a perfectly fabulous hot lunch (think top-notch, gourmet pot-noodles)! Obviously, I’ve just finished working there.
The heart of this dish is the spicy dressing for the noodles, which should keep well for a little while in a jar in the fridge if you end up with more than you need.
For the dressing, combine the following, and mix well –
- 2 tbsp chilli oil
- 2 tbsp of a neutral oil (I used cold pressed rapeseed oil, but olive oil would be fine)
- 1/2 tbsp of roasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 heaped tsp of honey
How hot this dressing ends up will depend on the character of your chilli oil, the ratio of chilli oil to neutral oil (there’s nothing to stop you using 1:3 – or 3:1, for that matter, if you’re a hard case!) and your personal taste in chilli heat. These proportions work for me, but feel free to experiment. I would keep the combined amount of chilli and neutral oil at 4 tablespoons, though, or the balance of the rest of the flavours is likely to be off.
Cook your noodles according to the instructions (these fine egg needed to be boiled for 3 minutes – I allowed one ‘nest’ per person). You could use fine rice noodles instead, or even thin pasta, if that’s what you have to hand.
Now, prepare –
- Half a carrot, grated
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves
- A few peanuts, roughly chopped, if you have them (cashews or pine nuts might work, too, to give a little crunch)
When your noodles are cooked, drain them, add the dressing, mix through with the carrot, spring onions and coriander, and serve with a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Enjoy!
This is really really good, quick, fresh, tasty (and healthy!) food. The balance of hot, sweet and sour is perfect (well, for me anyway), and there’s a real depth of flavour and complexity, and a deep satisfying savouriness from the sesame oil and soy sauce.
This dish breaks down really well as ‘lunch-box’ fare, too – just take the dressing in a little pot, and the prepared vegetables separately, and cook the noodles just before eating.
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