Wow, what a crazy past few months we've had. There are so many things going on news-wise that it's been hard to even think about blogging about food, and going about "business as usual". A few people seem to find ways to do it, but as a news junkie who has been fascinated by politics and civic action since 12th grade government class, I've been struggling a bit. How do I blog about dinner while paying respect to the enormous changes around us? When seemingly everything around you is politicized, from farms to pizza to bodegas, is a bowl of noodles just a bowl of noodles anymore?
One of the biggest debates has centered around immigration, which is something I'll address in a future post. In the meantime, I'll just say this: Regardless of your personal politics, everyone in the US has been positively impacted by immigration. Without immigration, our agricultural production and food culture would be in a sorry state. About 99.9% (my own estimate, feel free to disagree) of everything we eat comes from immigrants, and this diversity should be celebrated, not seen as a threat to the very fabric of American society. Of course, given the crowd that usually comes to Asian food blogs, I might just be preaching to the choir, but that's perfectly fine too. :)
With that said, happy Chinese New Year! Recently Phaidon sent me a copy of China: The Cookbook, a beautiful 700-page tome that celebrates dishes from around the country. I wanted to zero in on noodles, which they symbolize longevity (of life...and of democracy?) and eaten at practically every meal during the New Year. And because I was craving noodles.
These shallot oil noodles look super simple, but wow, words CANNOT describe how good they are. I made them three days in a row and always chastised myself for making too little after finishing my last bite.
You basically cook the minced fatty pork in a bit of oil (the original recipe calls for fatback but I used bacon because it's much easier to find), remove and set aside, then heat shallots and garlic to perfume the oil. Cook some noodles, toss the noodles with the flavored oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, and the crispy bacon, and serve. Chinese egg noodles are the best choice if you can find them fresh, but in lieu of fresh noodles I've always found that spaghetti or linguine work way better than most of the dried Chinese noodles available in Chinese markets here.
Hong Kong Noodles with Shallot Oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 ounces bacon or pancetta, finely diced
- 4 shallots, quartered and lightly crushed
- 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 11 ounces fresh egg noodles or 6 ounces dried egg noodles, spaghetti, or linguine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 scallions, green parts minced for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon or pancetta and pan-fry from 4 to 5 minutes, until crispy. Remove the crispy pork and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
- Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and pan-fry over medium heat for 3 minutes until slightly brown. Discard the shallots and garlic and transfer the flavored oil to a bowl.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and toss the noodles with the shallot oil, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Sprinkle and crispy pork and scallion greens on top and serve.
Adapted from China: The Cookbook from Phaidon