Saturday, September 8, 2012

Szechuan Cold Noodles and Travel To China

As I'm headed to China this week on business, I thought I would share my spouses recipe for this Asian noodle favorite. 

I first travelled to China in 2004 and since then have been back many times.  On this trip I'm in Beijing and Taipei.  Thankfully you can fly directy to Beijing from Chicago nonstop which takes 13 hours.  As part of my travels I've had the chance to see most of the famous sites, from the Great Wall to the Temple of Heaven near Beijing and the 101 Tower and the National Palace Museum in Taipei. 

Kevin during our 2004 visit.
Of course there were many other sites to see as well and I should make particular note of the famous "night market" in Taipei, where only those with an adverturous appetite should plan on dining.

Julian at the Great Wall in 2005
The south of China where my spouse was raised is warm, much like the weather in Atlanta.  As such this was a favorite family dish as it can be a main course but is served cold.  It's also excellent for taking as a covered dish, and can be prepared as vegetarian friendly.  We prefer to use standard angel hair Italian pasta for this dish.  Normally the Chinese use a more delicate Chinese wheat-based noodle for this dish.  However we find it breaks more easily and doesn't hold up as well when tossing it with the vegetables.

1/2 Carrot, about 1 cup
1 small cucumber, about 1 cup
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 daikon (also called white carrot or radish) optional, about 1 cup
1 1/2 cups chicken or soybean cake
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Cilantro, for garnish


1 1/2 tablespoons Soy sauce (dark soy for stronger flavor)
1 teaspoon Vinegar
2 teaspoons Chili oil, or less to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Szechuan pepper corns, crushed or ground
3 cloves Garlic, minced

Prepare ahead note:  Poach a chicken breast or use left over chicken. Shred about 1 1/2 cups for this recipe, more or less to your taste.  For a vegetarian version, use firm soybean/tofu cakes (shown here) that can be julienned into matchstick sized pieces, which can be prepared when you julienne the vegetables.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Add olive oil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water until cool. Using tongs, toss with sesame oil to prevent sticking and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  

Rinse and snip both ends off of the bean sprouts.  Wash and peel the other vegetables.  Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and, using a spoon remove seeds.  Julienne the cucumber into thin matchsticks.  Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt to draw out excess moisture. Set aside.  Julienne the carrot into even smaller pieces. Julienne the daikon similarly.

Prepare the dressing by stirring together the above ingredients.  Measures can be adjusted depending on your taste.  add the dressing to the chilled noodles and toss to coat evenly.  Add the chicken/Tofu and the vegetables and toss gently to combine.   Top with chopped cilantro and serve.  If storing for future use, briefly toss pasta before serving and garnish just before serving.

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