Monday, March 10, 2008

Guo Nian Kuai Le - Part 2

It's more than a little bit embarrassing to call this post "Guo Nian Kuai Le" when it is so long overdue. But nonetheless, Chinese New Year was the inspiration for today's recipe, so I'm sticking with the theme. I promised in my last post to provide my readers, however few they may be, with a noodle and fish recipe to help celebrate the Chinese New Year. As both of those dishes are easy enough to make, I thought it would be a simple matter to get them both onto the blog before the end of February. I was wrong. I made the noodles about 3 weeks ago, but didn't feel like my recipe had enough flavor to recommend it to others (see how seriously I take my recipe-crafting responsibilities). That meant I had to go back and tweak it a little. Sadly though, having just eaten my fill of stir-fried noodles, I wasn't in the mood to make them again right away. Thanks to my gourmand friend Carri who agreed to be my guinea pig, I perfected both the fish and noodle recipe on the same night last week. However, I don't want to overwhelm you with too many choices, so today you'll have to settle for only the noodle recipe. Next time around I'll bless your lives with one of the simplest, yet yummiest ways, to prepare fish (so stay tuned).

About noodles, they are eaten during Chinese New Year because their length symbolizes long life. For this reason, you never want to do anything to make them shorter. Which means usually you end up slurping them up in one long string... remember, we are eating these with chopsticks so you can't wind them around your fork. Anyway, it makes for fun and entertaining dining.

Noodles are one of my favorite things to eat when I am in Taiwan or China. I love all the different ways they can be prepared: beef noodle soup, zha jiang mian, dan dan mian, etc. I also love Japanese noodle soups, which thankfully, are easy to find in China. However, all of those noodle dishes are hard to find in the States, which is one of the reasons I started this blog... so I could learn how to prepare the food I miss the most. It's therefore somewhat anti-climatic (for me at least) to be presenting you with a noodle recipe that is something of a no-brainer, and not at all exotic. Good ole Chow Mien. However, chow mien is one of those dishes that manages to be both authentic and appetizing to the average American. Plus, as an added bonus, its a cinch to make. Therefore, before moving into more esoteric directions, I thought I would start with something appealingly familiar to most of my readers. Enjoy.

Chao Mian, aka Chow Mien
(Adapted from Martin Yan's Chinese Cooking for Dummies)

Noodles - really any kind will work, but I used a Chinese kind
1 lg. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 T. oyster sauce
1 lg. carrot, julienned (I like julienned pieces about 2" long)
1 1/2 c. bean sprouts, rinsed

1/2 c. chicken broth
6 T. soy sauce
1 t. plus 1 T. sesame oil
1 T. Chinese rice cooking wine
1/2 t. sugar

Cook noodles in boiling, salted water until almost done. They'll cook a little more when you add them to the stir-fry so you don't want them to be totally cooked. Drain and set aside.

Cut chicken breast into small dice. Mix with oyster sauce in a small bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Sauce: Whisk together in a small bowl the chicken broth, soy sauce, 1 t. sesame oil, rice wine, and sugar.

Heat 1 T. sesame oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add chicken and cook until the chicken is done, approximately 8 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add carrots, bean sprouts, and sauce to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are almost cooked through, maybe 8 minutes. Then add the chicken and noodles to the pan. Mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve.

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