Oo­dles of noo­dles

New Zealand Listener - - THIS LIFE -

Marco Polo brought Chi­nese noo­dles back from his East­ern ad­ven­tures, start­ing Ital­ians’ ob­ses­sion with pasta noo­dles. Noo­dles are a sta­ple in many Asian coun­tries, and many stu­dents and young peo­ple in New Zealand al­most ex­ist on cheap in­stant noo­dles.

Ja­pan has soba or buck­wheat noo­dles, which are thin and light grey; udon noo­dles, which are made from wheat and come in round or thick lengths; ra­men, which are yel­low wheat noo­dles found in a di­verse ar­ray of soups; and yak­isoba, which are for fried dishes. In spring, Ja­panese peo­ple serve harusame (spring rain) cel­lo­phane noo­dles, and in sum­mer they have chilled soba noo­dles to tem­per the heat.

In China, egg, rice and wheat noo­dles ap­pear in thou­sands of dishes and the coun­try has so many va­ri­eties that you could write a big book about them. The most revered are hand­pulled noo­dles swung around in a showy man­ner as a fea­ture in ded­i­cated noo­dle shops and restau­rants. There, it’s con­sid­ered po­lite to slurp your noo­dles.

Ital­ian pasta is made from high-qual­ity wheat and of­ten egg. Shapes range from the thinnest an­gel hair pasta to chunky rags of hand­made, hand-rolled sheets. Ital­ians de­light in their wide range of ac­com­pa­ny­ing sauces. and gin­ger in a steamer over the top. Steam for 4-5 min­utes un­til the vege­ta­bles are ten­der. Add the cour­gettes, peas and beans, then steam for 2-3 min­utes.

Re­move the chicken from the broth, re­turn the saucepan to the stove and bring the broth back to a sim­mer. Add the fish sauce.

In another pan, sim­mer the rice noo­dles in salted wa­ter for 4 min­utes.

Skin the chicken breast, then shred the meat into bite-sized pieces.

To fin­ish, di­vide the noo­dles be­tween 4 warmed plates. Top with veg­eta­bles and chicken, then pour over the hot broth.

Gar­nish with co­rian­der leaves and pep­per. Hand around the soy sauce and hot pep­per sauce sep­a­rately.

Serves 4.

Wine match: sau­vi­gnon blanc.

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