Saturday, August 13, 2011

Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles

Many years ago I attended a Noodle Hour put on by Susan Blader and the Asian Studies department at Dartmouth College.  She and her students made several kinds of noodles to share with anyone who came to the Asian Language House for noodles and a lecture.  This was my favorite, so I call my recipe:   SUSAN BLADER'S CHINESE NOODLES/ORCHID'S TANGY COOL NOODLES

Susan's directions follow.  I will put my own twist at the bottom of this post.

A tangy northern-style blend of sweet, tangy and spicy tastes

1 pound long thin Chinese egg noodles, fresh or frozen
3 1/2 Tablespoons Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
3 1/2 Tablespoons black soy sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoons well-aged Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 - 1 Tablespoon hot chili oil
4 heaping Tablespoons thin-cut green and white scallion rings

To Garnish- freshly cut scallion rings

After cooking the noodles-fluff fresh or defrosted noodles in a colander to release any tangles. Take care not to break any. In China long noodles are a metaphor for a long life.

Bring a generous amount of unsalted water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Add the noodles and swish them with chopsticks to separate the strands . When the noodles are cooked (2-3 minutes) pour them into a large colander in the sink and run cold water through them until cold.  Let drain well and place in large clean bowl. 

Make the sauce by mixing all the other ingredients together and let sit while the noodles cook and cool.  Pour over the cold noodles and stir carefully.  Garnish with plenty of chopped green onion.

My method:
Because I was making noodles today to take to a missionary return potluck dinner and wanted to make a triple batch, I used my blancher to heat up water to cook the noodles, 1 pound at a time.  DON'T TRY TO COOK MULTIPLE PACKAGES AT ONCE!  I did that last week and the noodles WAY overcooked and were mushy nasty things and had little flavor. 

(You will notice that the stove is in a construction zone, making cooking a bit of a challenge currently...)

The dried noodle package said to cook the noodles for two minutes...not very long at all!  So--after heating the water to a boil, and because of the previously mushed up noodles,  I put the package of noodles in the bottom of the blancher insert in my sink, set the timer on the stove, carefully placed the blancher insert with noodles into the water,  started the timer for two minutes, picked up a fork and started lifting and turning the noodles in the water to start separating them.  When a minute had gone by I put the cover on the blancher and let them cook undisturbed for the final minute.  (The water had not yet come back to a boil by that time but had been boiling furiously when I place the insert in the water.)

Using the fork, I lifted a few strands from the pot to see if they were cooked enough.  They really were so I lifted the insert VERY CAREFULLY so as not to get burned and let the water drain back into the pot, then carried it to the sink and started cold water running through them.  With my newly washed hand I picked up the noodles and changed their position so they could become cold rather quickly.  Drained them very well and put them in a large bucket (this time, but a bowl works really well) and repeated the process two more time.

The recipe calls for "hot chili oil"  but I did find that.  I found this Hot Sesame Oil, which was nicely spicy.  I used 3/4 Tablespoon of it.  In the past it seems that the hot chili oil strenghtens over time in the little bit of leftovers that remain.

In the meantime, while water came back to the boil, I mixed all the ingredients for the sauce in a good-sized bowl and whisked them until they were well-combined.  Once all three pounds of noodles were cooked and cooled, I re-whisked the sauce then poured it over the noodles.  With my clean hand I lifted and turned the noodles until they were all well covered with the sauce.

These noodles are meant to be eaten cool, but my husband always puts them in the microwave to heat them..."Noodles should be eaten hot," he says.  Shortly before serving, slice the green onions finely and mix them into the noodles...again, I will do that with a clean hand.  As you can see by this picture, I have not added the scallions yet.

These are so good.  Every time I take them to an event, they are enjoyed.

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