As we have said before, one of the great things about cooking in New York City is the availability of fresh and authentic ingredients from many cultures from around the world. On a recent trip to Chinatown, I came across a package of fresh Shanghai noodles. The noodles were bleach white, soft and slightly rough on the exterior, perfect for picking up sauce. I have a weakness for noodles of all kinds, so I took them home, thinking about ways to make them delicious.
I wanted the noodles to be savory and a little bit sweet, so I combined the pungent flavors of garlic and ginger with the saltiness of soy sauce and the sour-and-sweet taste of Chinese black vinegar. For some crunch I added red bell peppers, but I could just as well have used julienned carrots, shiitake mushrooms or napa cabbage. The result was a dish that I could eat (and will eat) again and again.
Stir-Fried Shanghai Noodles
1/2 pound fresh shanghai noodles or other Asian noodles
2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
3-4 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4-inch piece ginger, minced
1 egg (optional)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese Black Vinegar
1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook them according to the directions on the package until they are soft but still have some bite (fresh ones should take only about 1-2 minutes). Drain the noodles, rinse them under cold water, and drain again. Mix them with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to prevent sticking.
2. Combine the soy sauce, black vinegar and rice wine in a bowl. Beat the egg in a separate bowl if using. Prepare the remaining ingredients and have them standing by.
3. Heat a well-seasoned wok over high heat. When it is smoking, add the remaining sesame oil. Add the peppers and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute. Finally, add the noodles to the pan and toss to combine. Stir-fry them for another 1-2 minutes.
4. If you are using the egg, push the noodles and vegetables onto one side of the wok, creating a free area on the other side. Pour the egg into the free side of the wok and scramble it quickly. When it is scrambled, stir to combine with the noodles.
5. Add the sauce mixture to the wok. Use your utensil to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the wok. Stir-fry the noodles for another minute and serve hot.
For information on where to obtain the ingredients for this recipe, please see our guide to Food Shopping in Chinatown. If you do not have Chinese black vinegar, balsamic vinegar is a decent substitute.
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