To celebrate the Chinese New Year at the end of January (Year of the Horse) we cooked up some tasty oriental noodles. I have been meaning to blog about it for a while now as it makes for a very quick and easy week day meal, as with most stir fry dishes. We don’t eat enough Chinese food at the moment for my liking, mainly as the kids aren’t keen (too much green!), but it’s a fantastic way to get some lovely vegetables onto your plate. I think we could all do with that.

We follow and practice many of Ching He Huang’s recipes, but of late Dan has acquired a selection of Ken Hom’s books, and this is one that he picked out from ‘Illustrated Chinese Cookery’. It’s a good book, first published in 84, with some great one pan meals. It clearly divides everything into meat/veg/soup etc sections as well, making it quick and easy reference. Ken’s full ingredients list and cooking method can be viewed online here.

To make this dish (serves 4) you will need:

For the marinade:
– 450g of diced lean pork
– one tablespoon of Shaoxing rice wine
– two tablespoons of sesame oil
– one tablespoon of light soy sauce
– one teaspoon of cornflour

– one and a half tablespoons of oil
– one tablespoon of garlic (finely chopped)
– one and a half tablespoons of black beans (rinsed and chopped – although we left ours whole to add extra texture)
– three tablespoons of spring onions (chopped)
– one tablespoon of shallots (chopped)
– one and a half tablespoons of light soy sauce
– one teaspoon of sugar
– one tablespoon of chicken stock or water
– one tablespoon of sesame oil

If you allow ten minutes initially to get everything chopped (I tend to put all of the ingredients into little bowls and line them up in use order to speed up the cooking process) then twenty minutes for the meat to marinade, the preparation can be completed in half an hour. The actual stir frying then takes under ten minutes. We served ours with some pre-packed dried medium egg noodles that are thrown into some boiling water and simmered for a few minutes. Remember to run them under a cold tap in a colander immediately after draining to stop them from cooking further. The noodles can be cooked in advance and will sit quite happily to one side until you are ready to combine them with the stir fry (we usually add them to the wok for the last two minutes of cooking time to coat in the sauce and warm through).

Realistically, this dinner can be ready and on your plate within approximately 45 minutes if you’re well organised. That’s the key to cooking Chinese well and quickly in my opinion. The meal itself is highly tasty, with the black beans releasing bursts of savouriness that are just so more ish! I’m personally fond of the crunch you get from the spring onions that keeps the whole thing light.

In the book, Ken Hom talks about eating this ‘homely’ dish as a child, mentioning that his Mother would sometimes add a little chilli bean sauce to create a different slant on the recipe. We did the same and it only enhanced the flavours and added a bit of a kick. It’s got me remembering how much I enjoyed it now…I think it will certainly be going on the menu for next week!