Hot & Spicy
As promised: to break the chain of bland, brown comfort food, I made us a bowl of noodles yesterday. Fast, healthy, delicious, slurpable, leaves your lips tingling, makes you sweat a little. Spicy enough for you, D.?
Noodles with chicken and celery
I used celery, but really you could use any green vegetable such as zucchini, green beans, bok choy, sugar snaps.. as long as you don't cook it for too long, because you want to keep a little crunch (so I would not recommend leafy greens such as spinach or Chinese cabbage). If you use celery, make sure it's juicy and crisp and not wilted and dry.. the supermarket bunches often are. If you really love celery (I do) you can add some of the leaves at the end: they have a very strong flavor, so that may not be to everybody's taste.
200 grams free range chicken breast, cut into strips
about 4-5 stalks of really fresh celery
1 fat clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I unshamedly use the stuff from a jar)
1-2 tablespoons chili bean paste
1 tablespoon sweet bean paste
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons Shiao Xing rice wine
a cup of water
a little cornstarch slurry made with a heaping teaspoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water (optional)
oil for frying
cooked noodles, to serve
Wash and dry the celery stalks. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into smallish pieces.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan or wok until really hot. Tip in the chicken, and fry over high heat for a minute or so, just until the chicken has lost its raw look and is beginning to brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
If neccessary, add a little more oil, then add the celery and stir fry over high heat until the celery begins to brown and soften (5 minutes or so). Lower the heat, add the garlic and stir fry another minute. Splash in the wine, and when it has bubbled away (which will be almost immediately because the pan is so hot), add the ginger, fermented beans, chili bean paste and sweet bean paste. Mix everything together then add the cup of water. Simmer for a couple of minutes, until the celery is almost done (it should still be slightly crunchy). Add the chicken back in and simmer for a minute until the chicken is cooked through. If the sauce is too runny, add a bit of the cornstarch slurry to thicken it (after doing that, you might find it's too thick, and you may want to add a little more water - that's what often happens to me when I'm adding cornstarch).
Serve over noodles.