This dish is inspired by a Chinese noodle salad my uncle Jimmy brings to Kwong family gatherings. The Chinese barbecue pork pieces and pickles are my addition. My uncle uses freshly made thin egg noodles, which I prefer for this recipe because they are delicate in texture and not so filling. But feel free to choose your favourite, including Hokkien or Shanghai noodles. Look for fresh thin egg noodles in the refrigerated section of the Asian grocer.
Serves 6 - 8 as part of a banquet
2 large celery sticks, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 tbsp vegetable oil
500g fresh thin egg noodles
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp light soy sauce
250g Chinese barbecue pork, warm or at room temperature, finely sliced
90g (1 cup) bean sprouts
60g (½ cup) drained pickled carrots* (recipe below)
80ml (⅓ cup) liquid from pickled carrots*
50g (½ cup) fresh black fungus
2 tsp sesame oil
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Blanch celery for 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Pat dry.
2. Add vegetable oil to same pan of water and bring back to the boil. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.
3. Heat sugar and soy sauce in a nonstick frying pan until sugar has dissolved. Add pork and heat through for 45 seconds or until slightly sticky.
4. Add pork and remaining ingredients to noodles and toss well using your hands. Arrange on a platter to serve.
Tip: I always have a bit of barbecue pork in the freezer. It's fantastic not only for a quick, flavoursome fried rice, but also great added to noodle dishes or finely sliced and added to wonton soup.
If you don't eat pork, you could add fried egg ribbons and fresh Asian herbs to make this a substantial vegetarian dish or swap the pork for cooked tiger prawns.
*Remember to make the pickled carrots a day ahead (recipe below).
CHINESE PICKLED CARROTS RECIPE
When I was growing up, Mum used to buy Chinese pickles in Chinatown that gave instant depth and character to dishes. But these days I like to make my own – they are easy and fun to make, and enhance dishes instantly. Add these pickles to other dishes or serve alongside any meal as a condiment.
Makes: 300g (about 2½ cups) drained
3 carrots (about 300g in total)
1 tbsp salt flakes
5cm x 2cm knob (20g) ginger, thickly sliced
1 whole star anise
¼ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1 litre (4 cups) white vinegar
295g (1⅓ cups) white sugar
1. To make the pickling liquid, combine vinegar and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and stir over high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered and without stirring, for about 30 minutes or until reduced by one-third and slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
2. Meanwhile, peel each carrot and cut in half crossways. Cut each piece into slices two millimetres thick, then into matchsticks. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. The next day, drain the liquid from the carrots, squeezing well with your hands. Place carrots in a 1 litre capacity airtight jar or container, pour pickling liquid over to cover, add ginger, star anise and peppercorns. Refrigerate for one day to allow flavours to develop before using. The pickled carrot will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.