Thursday 9 April 2020

ChongQing Noodles (重庆面)

Having lived in Beijing for 5 years I have learnt what Chinese food is really supposed to taste like.  It's not fluorescent sweet and sour chicken balls or boiled ribs drenched in BBQ sauce.  Not once did I see any of that!  A lot of my favourite dishes come from the Sichuan Province and this dish was our go to at least once a week.

You will struggle to cook real Chinese food without a trip to your local Chinese supermarket.  My cupboard is always stocked with the Chinese staples of Sesame Oil, Dark Soy Sauce, Chinese ChinKiang Vinegar, ShaoXing Wine and Chinese Dried Chillies.  They last a long time and essential for all Chinese cooking.  The Chinese Chilli is mild and flavoursome and you could easily find 20+ chillies in a standard Sichuan dish.

Another essential is MSG which for absolutely no reason has a bad rep.  There are hundreds of scientific articles on how bad salt is for you and literally zero on MSG, but we all happily still use salt.  If you want to make good Chinese food, you will need MSG.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)

200 grams Dan Dan Noodles.  It has taken a few trials to work out the correct noodles.  Look for the chinese characters 担担面.

10 dried Chinese chillies (these and only these!)
2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
0.5 tsp Black Peppercorns
1 tbs ShaoXing Wine
4 tbs ground pork (I know, who buys pork mince in such small portions?! I have found that the meat from sausages also works brilliantly and they come perfectly pre-portioned! One sausage each.)
2 tsp Sesame Seeds
4 spring onions
0.5 cup chopped fresh Coriander
4 tbs cooked Soya Beans (optional)

Per bowl:
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tbs Chinese Vinegar
1 tbs ShaoXing Wine
1 tsp MSG
0.25 tsp crushed raw garlic
0.5 tsp Sichuan "Toban" paste
0.5 tsp Chinese Chilli Oil.


Put all the "bowl" ingredients into the individual bowls that you will be serving the meal in.  Give it a good mix and set them aside.

Grind the 10 chillies, Sichuan Peppercorns and Black Peppercorns into a course powder.

In a tablespoon of oil, fry the pork for a minute and then add the ground spices.  Continue to fry until pork and spices are thoroughly cooked and almost crispy.  Add the sesame seeds to the pan, stir and deglaze with a splash of ShaoXing wine.  Turn off the heat.

Boil the noodles as instructed on the packet.  Place half in each bowl plus half a cup of the noodle water.  This noodle water is vital!

Top with the fried pork.  Sprinkle with a healthy amount of chopped spring onions and coriander.  Put 2 tablespoons of soya beans on the side.

Serve with the instruction to mix it all together before eating.