It’s been two weeks since the previous Land of Plenty post (Kung Pao), but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up! In fact, I’m cooking more Sichuan than ever before, though the meals I make aren’t always a direct recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s cookbook.
The whole point of this series (for me) is to gain understanding of Sichuan cooking methods and ingredients, so that I can add them to my repertoire and into my regular cooking routine. Lately I’ll stir fry whatever vegetables I have on hand, maybe add some ground beef or pork, put together a quick sauce, follow the Sichuan method of sauce/flavor layering, then toss everything with some Chinese noodles, and the end results have been quite satisfying, and better yet, quick and easy.
However, this doesn’t mean I’m moving on from the cookbook. There’s plenty to learn and too many dishes that I can’t wait to eat, such as today’s post – Spicy Cold Noodles with Chicken Slivers.
Cold Asian noodles is a personal favorite of mine, and this recipe is quite similar to many recipes such as this one, but the sauce is distinctively Sichuanese. You can substitute many ingredients (rice vinegar instead of Chinkiang Chinese vinegar and peanut sauce or tahini for the sesame paste), but I would definitely recommend you seek out Chinese noodles, whose primary ingredient is wheat flour. Fuchsia calls for fresh pasta in this recipe, but the dried pasta will work just fine. Just remember that fresh noodles weigh much more when converting quantities for dry noodles.
First I took more of my butterflied chicken breast and sautéed it in a grill pan in a small amount of olive oil. Then I let it cool and gently shredded it with a fork. Fuchsia recommends smacking the cooked chicken with a rolling pin (a mallet or you bare fist will work too!) to loosen the chicken fibers, making it easier to shred. This little trick worked extremely well!
While the chicken was cooking I prepared my noodles, mixed in a small amount of oil, and set them out to cool as well. Unlike Italian food, Sichuan noodles are always cooked “well done” instead of to al dente.
The recipe called for blanched bean sprouts, but I discovered mine had gone bad. Those suckers don’t last as long as I wish they would. However, I just picked up some lovely radish from The Local Farmstand, and thought they would be a great replacement for the “crunch factor” of the bean sprouts and they always add fantastic complementing color.
Next up I whipped up the awesome sauce of light and dark soy sauce, black Chinese vinegar, sesame paste, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, ground/roasted Sichuan pepper, and chili oil.
I mixed up the noodles with the sauce, transferred to my serving bowl, then topped it with the shredded chicken, sliced radish, and scallions. Besides looking fairly fantastic, it happened to taste delicious. The sesame paste gave it a rich peanut-like flavor and the dish of course had the common Sichuan sweet/spicy/savory flavor combo going. Watch out for the large chunks of garlic. My breath was kickin’ later that day.