As it’s the Chinese New Year – the year of the Ox – I wanted to share a recipe for Chinese noodles. Uncut and unbroken noodles are eaten during the New Year in China as they symbolise longevity. Here they are coated in a spicy lemon and orange sauce and served at room temperature. Leftovers are excellent for lunchboxes, or eaten straight from the fridge.
If you can’t find Chinese sesame paste in Asian grocers, use tahini, peanut butter, or 1 teaspoon pan-roasted sesame seeds, crushed and blended with 1 tablespoon cold water. Cider vinegar can be substituted for the rice wine vinegar; and the chilli oil should not be the sort of chilli-infused olive oil found in supermarkets. Sichuan peppercorns have a distinctive, subtly hot, spiky flavour and fragrance – but if you dislike their grainy texture, use ordinary black pepper.
The addition of oranges and lemons to the aromatic sauce will brighten up the greyest of winter days. Serves 2 as light meal, or 4 as appetiser/ side dish/ snack.
For the sauce:
Finely grated zest of 1 medium organic orange
Finely grated zest of 1 organic unwaxed lemon
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
1 heaped tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Chinese white rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese dark soy sauce
¼ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, finely crushed
1 tablespoon Chinese chilli oil
½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
A pinch of sugar, to taste
Salt to taste
For the noodles:
9 oz/ 225g dried egg noodles, OR 1 lb/ 500g fresh egg noodles
1 tablespoon dark toasted sesame oil
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnish
1. To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Set aside, or chill until ready to use.
2. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and plunge in cold water to prevent further cooking. Drain again, and toss in sesame oil. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Just before serving, toss the noodles with the spicy citrus sauce. Garnish with coriander leaves Serve at room temperature (or chilled).