I have found my New Favourite Thing. I've always been a big fan of big flappy rice noodles and these, these take it to the next level. Labelled 'green bean sheet jelly', I picked them up at a whim at my local Chinese supermarket and when they were cooked they turned into gloriously chewy stretchy noodles that soaked up whatever I cooked them with.
I've eaten them three times this week; stewed in a spicy stew, stir-fried and in a salad. The salad was probably my favourite. Dressed in a glossy, spicy peanutty sauce, they clung to the vegetables and reminded me of the Liang Pi cold noodles from New York's Xi'an Famous Foods. Mine weren't quite as good, but nearly there and that's as much as I hoped for.
I used whatever crunchy vegetables I had going. Some Chinese cabbage, finely julienned, some fresh corn, cut off the cob. Iceberg lettuce is my least favourite of the lettuces, but strangely its bland crunchiness works the best in Asian salads. Dressed with a punchy lime, chilli and fish sauce blend, chunks of watermelon added sweetness to an otherwise umami-heavy meal. Pork meatballs made with lemongrass and galangal coud have been deemed superfluous as I was happy with the salad itself, but they made it more a meal than without.
Pork & Lemongrass Meatballs
150gr minced pork
2 sticks of lemongrass, tender innards only
1 inch of galangal (or ginger, if you can't get hold of galangal)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp cornflour
In a pestle and mortar, smash the lemongrass, galangal and garlic until you get a fine paste. Mix in with the meat and the cornflour; mix this well until you get a paste, as this makes the meatballs firmer in texture with more bounce. Roll into balls about the size of golf balls and fry in a non-stick frying pan with a little oil until nicely browned on all sides and cooked through. This takes about 15 - 20 minutes.
60gr green bean sheet jelly noodles - you can also use glass noodles (mung bean) if you can't find the above
A few leaves of Chinese lettuce and / or iceberg lettuce, julienned. Had I a carrot, I would have julienned this too and added it in
1 spring onion, julienned
One ear of corn, kernels shaved off with a knife
A small handful of mint leaves, finely shredded
A small handful of coriander, chopped roughly
A quarter of a small watermelon, cubed - I think pineapple would work too
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes. Keep testing them for doneness. In the last 5 minutes, throw in the corn kernels. Drain and run under cold water.
In a large bowl, add the julienned vegetables, mint, coriander and spring onion. Toss with the noodles and corn, then toss with the dressing (below). Add the watermelon last and mix gently. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, before serving with the meatballs.
For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
1 clove of garlic
2 red birds eye chillis
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste; you want salty, sweet and sour in balance)
1.5 tbsp chunky peanut butter
In a pestle and mortar, smash up the garlic clove. Add the chillis, sliced, and crush well. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the lime juice and fish sauce, then incorporate the peanut butter mixing well so that it emulsifies.