Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cooking the Book – My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen – Pan-Fried Noodles with Shredded Pork (Yuk See Chau Mein)

There are times where I’m a real glutton for punishment and last month was one of those times. I decided I wanted something more than the average stir-fry for a Sunday dinner, so thumbing through my collection of Chinese cookbooks, I stopped at Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s “My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen”. Noodles sounded like an excellent idea, and when I read her recipe for Pan-Fried Noodles with Shredded Pork or Yuk See Chau Mein, I decided that was going to be dinner. It wasn’t until I actually began the cooking process that I realized what I had gotten myself into. With nearly 40 ingredients stretched across two recipes, it seems like I had bitten off more than I can chew.

Before I could even start with the Noodles, I had to make a batch of Steamed Black Mushrooms.

This recipe begins with picking out 24 Chinese dried black mushrooms and picking out ones that are close to 1 ½ inches in diameter.

As with every recipe involving dried mushrooms, there’s a re hydration stage. Here, the two dozen mushrooms are soaked in hot water for 45 minutes.

After re hydrating, I did my best to wash the mushroom and cut off the fibrous stems. Now I could add the rest of the ingredients.

¾ tsp of salt.

2 tsp of sugar

1 ½ tbs of dark soy sauce

1 ½ tbs of oyster sauce

2 tbs Shao-Hsing wine

2 tsp sesame oil amd 3 tbs scallion oil

½ cup of stock, the recipe calls for vegetable but with no on hand, I went with chicken stock.

3 scallions trimmed and cut into two inch pieces

And lastly, a single one inch thick slice of ginger, lightly smashed.

Everything was mixed thoroughly and steamed for a good 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes the mushrooms were ready and I could move onto the main recipe.

The recipe for Pan-Fried Noodles with Shredded Pork starts, simply enough, with pork, tenderloin in this instance.

6 ounces of lean pork tenderloin.

Which is then promptly shredded. Now I can start building the marinade.

1 tsp of corn starch

2 tsp of oyster sauce

1 tsp of light soy sauce and ¼ tsp of salt

¾ tsp of sugar

1 ½ tsp of Shao-Hsing wine and a good pinch of white pepper.

The shredded pork was added to the bowl

mixed well and left to marinate.

Now I could start making the sauce.

1 ½ tbs cornstarch

1 ½ tsp sugar and ¼ tsp salt

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tbs oyster sauce

a pinch of white pepper and lastly a cup of chicken stock

Mixed together, I set it aside and moved to the rest of the recipe.

With all the prep work done, it was time to actually start cooking and that meant putting 8 cups of water to a boil.

Water boiling, I put ½ cup of washed and drained bean sprouts in a strainer and lowered in the water for a scant 6 or so seconds.

To finish blanching, the sprouts were cooled off in cold water and set aside for later.

While waiting for the water to return to a boil, I turned to my noodles.

The recipe calls for eight ounces of fresh egg noodles like a capellini, I thought these wonton noodles would suffice.

eight ounces of noodles

Cooked for one minute, rinsed twice under cold water, and drained, I was now ready to cook these noodles. This next step required a cast iron skillet heated over high heat for a minute or so. Two tbs of peanut oil were added and when smoke was just appearing, the noodles were introduced.

The idea is to get a thick layer of crispy noodles and after using a few plates, I had the noodles flipped and left to fry on the other side.

It didn’t end up as well as I hoped, but it’s not a bad first outing with fried noodles.

Nearing the end, it was time to start cooking with a wok.

Wok on high heat, 1 ½ tbs of peanut oil was added to the wok and two tsp of minced ginger was added next.

When the ginger had browned

¼ cup of Steamed Black Mushrooms cut into a julienne and 3 scallions trimmed and cut into two inch portions for the green and the white quartered lengthwise were added to the wok.

This was only stir-fried for a minute, just until the scallions turned a bright green. It was then set aside.

After wiping the wok and spatula clean, I could finally start the final stage of this recipe.

Wok on high heat, one tbs of peanut oil was added and when smoking, two tsp of minced garlic were added.

15 seconds later, the pork and its marinade were added and spread into a thin layer.

Two or so minutes of cooking later, the reserved vegetables were added and stir-fried for another minute.

Making a hole in the middle, the sauce was stirred and added to the wok and cooked until it thickened.

The wok’s contents were poured over the waiting noodles and this recipe was finally finished.

In the recipe intro Lo writes that noodles are an integral part of any New Year’s banquet, and this recipe, the Yuk See Chau Mein, was one of the elaborate favorites. She says that this recipe was worth the effort, but I’m not sure.

I did really enjoy the mix of textures, particularly the crisp noodles and silky, sauce laden pork. I can see this being one of those special occasion dishes, but for your average Sunday dinner this was a little overwhelming. At the very least, I know what I can make for next Chinese New Year.

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