It’s not often I favour chicken over pork, but having tried this recipe in both guises, the lighter flavour of the chicken actually works better here and complements the pickled vegetables perfectly.
Don’t get me wrong – chicken will never steal my heart as pork does (I am part Chinese, after all), but pork is somehow too flavoursome here. This is a favourite of mine when I’m feeling under the weather; the silky slippery noodles are comforting, while the spicy sour flavours feel like they’re doing battle in your body against whatever ails you.
150g (5 ½ oz) dried sweet potato glass noodles
2 chicken thighs
2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
30g (1oz) sachet of ready-sliced
Sichuan zha cai, or any kind of pickled vegetable will do *
1 tbsp cooking oil
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
2 long red chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp chilli bean paste *
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp sugar
300ml (10fl oz/ ½ pint) chicken stock steamed pak choi, or any greens of your choice really (I used pak choi and sugar Snap peas), to serve
1 tsp sesame oiL
2 spring onions, diagonally sliced to garnish
* Marked ingredients can be made at home and recipes can be found in the book, China Town Kitchen. For Sichuan Zha Cai see page 162 and for Chilli Bean Paste see page 16. These ingredients are also available in generic versions at local Asian grocery stores.
1 Soak the sweet potato noodles in boiling water as per the packet instructions until cooked. Meanwhile, skin and debone the chicken thighs. Put into a food processor with the ginger and pulse until coarsely minced.
2 Rinse the pickled vegetable and set to one side.Heat the cooking oil in a wok over a high heat, add the garlic, chicken mixture and the chillies and stir-fry until there is no pink left in the meat. Add the chilli bean paste and stir-fry until everything is coated. Throw in the pickled vegetable, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and stock, and simmer for 10 minutes.
3 Meanwhile, steam your vegetables for serving.
4 To assemble, place the noodles in the bowl and top with the vegetables. Add the chicken mixture on top with half the broth per bowl. Finally, drizzle the sesame oil on top and garnish with the spring onions.