Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spicy Anniversary

Dear Jess,

So, Jason and I celebrated 8 months last weekend. (It was actually on Tuesday, but I was SUPER sick.) He was house-sitting for my cousin and her family as they went on a week-long vacation. It is important to point out that they heat their house primarily by two fireplaces, and when Jason was gone for 12 hours or more, 4 days in a row, you can imagine it got pretty nippley. Poor guy was sleeping on a couch directly in front of the fireplace so he could load it every few hours throughout the night. After too many nights like this, he managed to get the house semi-heated for my arrival on Friday night. It was in honour/fear/anger of this bitter cold plague that we decided to make a recipe that has been on our 'to-do' list for a few weeks: Fiery Dan Dan Noodles from Jamie's America. Not only is this recipe quick and simple, it is so delicious, and extremely spicy! (I made it again on Monday night for the family, and I pleasantly discovered that you can easily change how spicy you make it, and with less spiciness, it is still yummy.)

Fiery Dan Dan Noodles - Jamie's America, Pg 42

Fiery Dan Dan Noodles
From Jamie's America, Page 42
(Serves 4)
1 beef or chicken bouillon (I just used chicken broth)
1 1/4 lb ground beef
2 tbsp honey
10 oz Chinese wheat noodles (If you can't find any: Chow Mien noodles work)
4 handfuls of mixed green veg (Napa cabbage, Broccolini, Bok Choy, Spinach) (I used Kale instead of Cabbage, and couldn't find Broccolini, so I just used Broccoli.)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tbsp dark soy sauce (I used reduced-sodium soy sauce)
2 tsp freshly ground Szechuan pepper (I couldn't find this, so I used Cayenne Pepper)
5 tbsp good-quality chile oil (see PS below) 
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 lime, quartered, to serve

PS - If you can't find chile oil in a store you can make it! Get a handful of mixed dried chiles, toasting them in the oven to bring the flavor out, whacking them in a food processor with a bottle of peanut oil, and pouring it back into the bottle. This will keep well in your cupboard for a year. (I just used the peanut oil, and added some red pepper flakes to the dish... It made it pretty spicy so if you just use the peanut oil it still turns out yummy.)

1. Crumble your boullion cube into a large saucepan of water and get it on the heat.

2. Add the beef to a dry frying pan and, on a medium to high heat, keep moving it around until it's golden and crunchy, which will take about 10 - 15 minutes. Pour away any excess fat, then add the honey and toss until all the beef is nicely coated. Cook for about 30 seconds, then take the pan off the heat.

3. Stir your noodles into the boiling broth and move them about a bit so they don't stick together. Cook following the package instructions. Shred your cabbage into 1/2 inch strips, quarter your bok choy, and snap up the broccolini spears. When the noodles have 1 minute to go, throw in the prepared greens to blanch them. Drain the whole lot in a colander, reserving a mugful of the cooking water. Tip your noodles, veggies, and the mugful of water back into the hot pan.

4. Add your garlic, soy sauce, Szechuan pepper, and chile oil. Give it all a good mix with the tongs and divide between 4 bowls. Sprinkle over the crunchy beef (you can reheat this a t the last minute if you like), finish with a scattering of scallions, and serve each dish with a lime quarter to squeeze over. A serious noodle dish!


I can't wait to see you this weekend! Have a good rest-of-the-week. Today I got a 'half-day' because of the snow. I'm thinking of making some Navajo Flatbreads tonight with spelt flour, fresh basil and fresh rosemary! I'll let you know how it goes! 


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