During July, my kids go away to camp. So my wife and I have the opportunity to try new restaurants without having to drag the munchkins around. This year, we tried out a new chinese place in Manhattan, called Hao noodle house. One of the dishes we had was a simple noodle dish: noodles lightly dressed with soy sauce and scallion oil, and then topped with a scattering of scallion and dried shrimp.
Dried shrimp are, in my opinion, a very undervalued and underused ingredient. They’re very traditional in a lot of real Chinese cooking, and they give things a really nice taste. They’ve also got an interesting, pleasant chewy texture. So when there was a dried shrimp dish on the menu, I wanted it. (The restaurant also had dan dan noodles, which are a favorite of my wife, but she was kind, and let me indulge.)
The dish was absolutely phenomenal. So naturally I wanted to figure out how to make it at home. I finally got around to doing it tonight, and I got really lucky: everything worked out perfectly, and it turned out almost exactly like the restaurant. My wife picked the noodles at the chinese grocery that looked closest, and they were exactly right. I guessed at the ingredients from the flavors, and somehow managed to get them spot on on the first try.
That kind of thing almost never happens! It always takes a few tries to nail down a recipe. But this one just turned out the first try!
So what’s the dish like? It’s very Chinese, and very different from what most Americans would expect. If you’ve had a mazeman ramen before, I’d say that’s the closest thing to it. It’s a light, warm, lightly dressed noodle dish. The sauce is very strong if you taste it on its own, but when it’s dressed onto hot noodles, it mellows quite a bit. The dried shrimp are briney and shrimpey, but not overly fishy. All I can say is, try it!
There are two parts to the sauce: a soy mixture, and a scallion oil. The scallion oil should be made a day in advance, and allowed to stand overnight. So we’ll start with that.
- one large bunch scallions
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- two slices crushed ginger
- generous pinch salt
- Coarsely chop the scallions – whites and greens.
- Put the scallions, ginger, and salt into a food processor, and pulse until they’re well chopped.
- Add the oil, and let the processor run on high for about a minute. You should end up with a thick pasty pale green goo.
- Put it in the refrigerator, and let it sit overnight.
- The next day, push through a sieve, to separate the oil from the scallion pulp. Discard the scallions. You should be left with an amazing smelling translucent green oil.
Next, the noodles and sauce.
- Noodles. We used a kind of noodle called guan miao noodle. If you can’t find that,
then white/wheat soba or ramen would be a good substitute.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 slices ginger
- one clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
- Cover the dried shrimp with cold water in a bowl, and let sit for 1/2 hour.
- Put the dried shrimp, soy sauce, sugar, chicken stock, ginger, and garlic into a saucepan, and simmer on low heat for five minutes. Then remove the garlic and ginger.
- For each portion, take about 2 tablespoons of the soy, and two tablespoons of the scallion oil, and whisk together to form something like a vinaigrette.
- Cook the noodles according to the package. (For the guan miao noodles, they boiled in unsalted water for 3 minutes.)
- Toss with the soy/oil mixture.
- Serve the dressed noodles into bowls, and put a few of the simmered dried shrimp on top.
- Drizzle another teaspoon each of the scallion oil and soy sauce over each serving.
- Scatter a few fresh scallions on top.