Friday, May 23, 2014

(Belated Again) Chinese New Year Meal #7: Crispy Pan-Fried Noodle Cakes with Seafood

Guess what?  We finally finished our week of Chinese New Year meals!  It only took a couple months...  When I first started posting a week's worth of Chinese New Year meals on the blog I spent hours pouring over recipes trying to represent the different regions and cuisines of China.  I wanted seven meals made from different ingredients, some spicy, some meaty, some vegetarian, some noodles, some dumplings...  It was quite a process.  This year I didn't have a lot of time to plan.  And since I was so behind the ball in getting started I rushed into things a little.  Fuchsia Dunlop is always a good source for a few Chinese New Year meals.  I love all three of her cookbooks.  In the past year or two I have come to rely more and more on Serious Eats for new recipes.  I love that they make up their own recipes in addition testing out cookbooks.  I also love that their recipes run the gamut of different types of Chinese cuisine.  Four out of the seven Chinese New Years meals I made this year (including this one) were from Serious Eats.  There were a few other recipes I found elsewhere, but for one reason or another they didn't make the cut.  Some were a little too fusion-y, others involved ingredients that I couldn't find.  But what tended to happen was that I stumbled across a recipe that I wanted to make more.  This recipe for pan-fried noodles wasn't one that I originally planned on making.  I don't typically make more than one noodle dish, but I really love pan-fried noodles.  But other than the double-up on the noodles, I think we did a pretty good job of diversifying our meals.  We did one Sichuanese dish with beef and another with chicken, one Taiwanese dish with pork belly, one Xinjiang dish with lamb, one Cantonese dish with seafood...  

This dish was surprisingly successful.  I was pretty happy with it.  When we tried to make pan-fried noodles in the past we always ended up with burnt noodles that stuck to the wok, which resulted in burnt noodles and made it far more difficult to transfer the noodles from the wok in order to flip them over and cook the other side.  But these worked out pretty well!  There was some sticking on the first side after we added the water, but the second side worked perfectly.  And the process of parboiling the scallops and blanching the greens worked out really well because both ended up perfectly cooked.  The original recipe on Serious Eats calls for the addition of calamari and fish balls, but the grocery store was out of calamari and I don't really like fish balls so I decided to leave them out.  I really liked the combination of bay scallops and shrimp, but I might try the calamari next time if it was available.

Recipe after the jump!

(Belated Again) Chinese New Year Meal #7: Crispy Pan-Fried Noodle Cakes with Seafood
Adapted from Serious Eats

1/2 pound large shrimp, cleaned, deveined and shelled
1 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
kosher salt
1 cup vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 2 tsp)
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 pound choy sum or other Chinese greens
1/2 pound bay scallops
8 ounces Hong Kong Style Pan-Fried Noodles
8 fresh shiitake mushroom, about 1/2 lb

Combine shrimp, baking soda, 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Cover with cold water, stir to combine, and set aside.

Combine stock, garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a medium while. Stir to combine and set aside.

Heat 2 cups of water in the wok until boiling. Add choy sum and cook just until tender, about 30 seconds. Remove with tongs, run under cold running water to stop cooking, then set aside to drain.

Add scallops and squid and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Drain and run under cold water to halt cooking.

Gently break apart the noodles with your fingers to separate any large clumps. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or large saute pan (we had more luck with the saute pan because there was more surface area and better contact with the pan-fried noodles) over high heat until shimmering. Add noodles and cook, swirling gently, for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, add 1/4 cup of water, and cook, swirling pan occasionally until beginning to brown. Gently peek under noodles by lifting the edges with a spatula and pushing the edges in towards the center. Continue cooking, swirling, until golden brown underneath, about 5 minutes total.

Top the wok or saute pan with a plate and flip the noodles onto the plate.  They should be golden-side up. Heat another 2 tablespoon of oil in the wok or saute pan until shimmering. Slide noodle cake into wok or saute pan and continue to cook, swirling regularly, until golden brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a large plate or shallow bowl and keep warm.

While the noodles are pan-frying, heat another tablespoon oil in another wok or saute pan over high heat until smoking and add mushrooms. Cook, stirring regularly, until browned and tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Carefully drain shrimp. Heat another tablespoon oil in the wok over high heat until smoking and add shrimp. Cook, stirring regularly, until barely cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl with mushrooms and set aside.

If the wok looks dry, add another teaspoon or two of vegetable oil and heat over high heat until smoking and add scallops. Cook, stirring regularly, until barely cooked through, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl with mushrooms and shrimp and set aside.

Return wok to heat. Stir sauce mixture and add to wok. Cook until simmering and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Return seafood and mushroom mixture to pan and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt. 

Pour mixture over noodle cake, add choy sum, and serve immediately.

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