Ginger and spring onion noodles
Some people never forget a face. I never forget it if someone casually mentions a food preference. Carefully filed away for future reference, in this aspect I resemble a serial killer, except my interests lie in feeding rather than dismembering.
Whatever first ignited my feeder instincts, they’re here to stay. I first created these summery noodles for a light dinner with friends as a lazy play on Hainanese chicken rice. Basically, this is an excuse to ingest copious amounts of fresh, vibrant ginger with a winning combination of slippery noodles, poached chicken, fresh cucumber, crisp black fungus and a killer sauce.
I’ve made it before with the sweet potato noodles that are used for japchae, an insanely delicious Korean noodle dish but last weekend, I opted for glass vermicelli (made from mung beans). Both options are gluten-free too, if you’re that way inclined. Although fine served right away, I really like it quite cold. The sweet potato noodles are better eaten right away so if you plan to make it ahead then glass vermicelli is a better choice. Having said that, most noodles would work so just use what you have. The fresh ginger gives it a real bite so if you’re not very keen on ginger, this noodle salad is not for you.
Borrowing from Francis Lam, you need to season the sauce “like it called your mother a bad name”. Conjure up that scenario and salt accordingly.
Ginger and spring onion noodles
Feeds: Four people for a light lunch
Start cooking: An hour before eating
- Poached chicken – about 450 grams in total
- 120 grams x fresh ginger
- 60 grams x spring onion (about 3 stalks, green and white parts)
- Clear vermicelli noodles x 200 grams (dried)
- 2-3 x Lebanese cucumbers (about 400 grams)
- Black fungus, dried or fresh – 80 grams (reconstituted)
- Vegetable oil – sunflower, peanut or safflower oil are great choices, 80ml
- Sea salt – to taste.
- Fresh chilli, sliced (optional)
- Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro – also optional)
- With clean hands, gently shred the chicken with your fingers. Set aside.
- Grate the ginger into a bowl, making sure not to lose any of the juices. Finely chop the spring onion and add to the ginger. Add sea salt to the ginger and spring onion. Stir in the vegetable oil and let the sauce sit for 10 minutes. *
- Whether you are using fresh or dried black fungus, wash and blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse and remove the hard core. If large, cut into smaller pieces. The dried black fungus pictured were coin-sized so I left them as is. Place the prepped fungus into a large bowl.
- Top and tail each cucumber and slice in half horizontally. De-seed the cucumbers, then peel if desired. I usually leave half the peel on. Slice at an angle and add to the bowl with the fungus.
- In the meantime, heat up a medium saucepan with water until boiling. Cook the vermicelli noodles for 5 minutes until just tender. Strain and rinse gently in cold water and place into a serving large bowl. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip at the strands. This will make the noodles slightly easier to eat but don’t cut them to shreds. About six snips should do it.
- Taste the ginger-spring onion sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. It needs to touch too salty so the end result is perfectly seasoned.
- Add the noodles to the cucumber and fungus. Dress the noodles and vegetables with half the dressing and gently toss. Taste the noodles and add more dressing if needed.
- Either add the chicken to the noodles or serve and top each plate with some shredded chicken. I like to serve it freshly sliced chilli and coriander leaves (cilantro) if I have any.
* You can heat up the vegetable oil until smoking to sizzle the ginger and spring onion if you like. Make sure you place the ginger and spring onion in a large bowl and stand back as you carefully pour over smoking hot oil. The mixture will froth as the oil as the aromatics flinch from the heat. With the young variety of ginger, I like to keep it raw to better enjoy the floral scent.