I would often tell my grandmother to forget buying me a birthday present; all I wanted was a large jar of her Chinese spaghetti. If I went on a business trip, I could be sure my roommates would polish it all off. It surprised me because I think of this as typically Chinese in flavor. But its flavor is Shanghainese, delicately layered and not very spicy. If you like more spice, simply add more chili oil or chili sauce to your taste. Grandmother serves this with flat noodles because she feels they balance the chunkiness of the other ingredients, but I prefer thin noodles. You, too, can use your favorite noodles.
1 ounce dried Chinese black mushrooms
1/2 ounce dried shrimp
2 teaspoons dry sherry
1/2 cup sweet bean paste (see Note below)
1/3 cup chili sauce (see page 20 of the book)
1 tablespoon hot bean paste (see page 20, optional)
1 tablespoon chili oil (see page 20)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound thin, dried, Chinese noodles (see page 21) or angel hair pasta
4 ounces pork loin, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 ounces seasoned or five-spice baked tofu, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 cup frozen, shelled soybeans
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, cut into 1/4-inch dice (see Note on page 59)
Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl, pour boiling water over them, and set aside until fully dehydrated, about 1 hour. Drain, remove the stems, and cut the caps into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the shrimp and sherry, and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Then mince the shrimp, reserving them and their soaking liquid.
In a medium bowl, mix together the sweet bean paste, chili sauce, hot bean paste, chili oil, sugar, and sesame oil until smooth. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add a large pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the noodles and cook until they are still chewy, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse quickly with hot water. Drain again and transfer the noodles to a deep platter or large serving bowl.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large flat-bottomed wok or sauté pan over high heat. Working quickly, add the pork and toss. Stir in about 1/3 of the bean paste-chili mixture, and toss to coat the meat well. Add the mushrooms, stir and toss, and add another 1/3 of the chili mixture. Add the shrimp and their soaking liquid, the tofu, soybeans, and bamboo shoots. Stir and toss continuously until all the ingredients are cooked and heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more of the chili mixture. Pour and scrape the meat and vegetables on top of the noodles and serve hot or at room temperature.
Note: Sweet bean paste has sugar added. It can be found in Chinatown, or simply add a little sugar to a purchased plain (no chilies!) bean paste. Bean pastes are made from salted, fermented beans such as black beans and broad beans. The beans are frequently ground to give the paste a smooth texture.
Modern Asian Flavors
A Taste of Shanghai
by Richard Wong
143 pages with full-color illustrations throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created May 2006
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