Thursday 13 September 2007

Presto Pasta Night #29: Mee Goreng Tauceo

The very first blog event that I took part in when I first started my blog only 1.5 months ago was Presto Pasta Night hosted by Ruth. I haven't submitted anything in the last few weeks so I thought it was high time I got back in the game. The first time around, I made a Penne with tuna in tomato sauce from Jamie Oliver's Cook with Jamie. This time, I wanted to submit something that is unique to my home country so I decided on Mee Goreng Tauceo from James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this dish, it is essentially a stir-fried noodle dish made with Chinese egg noodles. In this case, the recipe calls for garnishings of shrimp and asian greens but as I was out of asian greens, I took a huge liberty and substituted tenderstem broccoli! Purists out there may think that this is sacrilege but I think that cooking should be fun. It should not be about following rules for rules sake. In this case, the purpose of the greens is to add some crunch to the noodles and I thought the broccoli served just fine.

To be honest, before I made the recipe I was somewhat sceptical about whether a recipe written by a gwailo (foreigner) could recreate the taste that I am familiar with. But the author has spent over twenty years researching the foods of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - the result of which is the cookbook that I used - so who am I to question his authority. Indeed he probably knows the foods of Southeast Asia even better than I do. The only thing I felt was missing was a little bit of spiciness which is easily solved by serving the dish with any kind of chili sauce you like.

Mee Goreng Tauceo
From Cradle of Flavor

455g precooked fresh Chinese egg noodles
10 stalks choy sum or 5 whole small heads baby bok choy or Shanghai choy
4 tbsp peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
200g medium-sized shrimp, peeled, heads removed, and deveined
1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts (optional)
4 tbsp warm water
2 tsp double-black soy sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

If you're using fresh Chinese egg noodles that are not precooked, cook them first, cut them in half, and set aside.

To prepare the choy sum, inspect it carefully, discarding or trimming any spoiled stems or leaves. Cut 1 inch off the base of each stalk and rinse the greens in several changes of the coldest possible water. If you're using baby bok choy or Shanghai choy, inspect the heads carefully, discarding or trimming any spoiled stems or leaves. Cut 1/8 inch off the base of each head and rinse the greens in several changes of the coldest possible water. (Take care to clean baby bok choy or Shanghai choy carefully, as it tends to have hidden pockets of sand where the leaves meet the center stem.) Cut the cleaned choy sum into pieces 2 1/2 to 3 inches long; if you're using baby bok choy or Shanghai choy leave the heads whole or cut them in halves or quarters lengthwise, depending on size. Dry the greens in a salad spinner or set them aside to dry on a kitchen towel or on paper towels. They don't need to be bone-dry; a little dampness is fine.

Heat the oil in a wok or 12-inch skillet (nonstick will work best) over medium heat. When it's hot — it should appear slightly shimmery — add the garlic and the sweet soybean paste (be mindful that the soybean paste may splatter a bit when it's added to the hot oil) and sauté, stirring constantly with a large spatula, until the garlic is no longer raw but has not yet begun to change color, 1 to 2 minutes. If the garlic starts to turn golden, take the pan off the heat to cool for a few moments before continuing.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and stir-fry just until they begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add the greens and raise the heat to high. Stir-fry vigorously until the greens just begin to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bean sprouts (if using) and continue to stir-fry vigorously for another 15 seconds.

Reduce the heat slightly and quickly add the noodles, using your hands and detangling them as you drop them into the skillet. Stir the noodles well to combine them with the greens, bean sprouts, and shrimp. Add the warm water, soy sauce, and salt and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring constantly until the noodles are hot and have soaked up all the liquid, about 2 minutes. (Note that the noodles will have increased slightly in size once they have soaked up the liquid.) Taste a noodle for salt, and add a pinch more if needed.

Transfer the noodles to a large platter or bowl and serve immediately. Although inauthentic, I like to top these noodles with freshly ground black pepper, which provides a nice layer of flavor.

Makes 3 or 4 servings as a main course


Ruth Daniels said...

The dish sounds awesome and I'm glad you're back at Presto Pasta Night with it.

Bibliophile said...

I like this recipe, but can't find the amount of sweet soybean paste. You mention it in the directions, but not in the ingredients list. Please let me know!