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thai noodles with cinnamon

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thai noodles

This was originally Nigella Lawson’s recipe which had been originally her Thai chef’s one while on holiday there; Nigella, not chef or me. I chucked out prawns from the recipe keeping it strictly vegetarian, and swapped the celery for pak choi and Thai basil. Thai chef or not, Nigella or not Nigella, celery is not edible unless stuck in a Bloody Mary when you’re already advancely tipsy.

I have now made the dish a zillion times it’s so good. Okay, three, but could be zillions by the time you read this. Egg noodles are what I used the first, awe-inducing time, but rice noodles are as good and they are what NL recommends.

thai noodles with cinnamon and ginger

I actually found the recipe when I was looking for something I could use my bottle of ketjap manis in – having bought it in an Oriental supermarket shopping frenzy, I’d completely forgotten what destination I had in mind for it. And this recipe is a great find; and you can even forget the ketjap manis: soy sauce mixed with sugar will do the same trick.

It is pretty difficult to spoil a noodle dish for me; just give them to me plain with a bottle of soy sauce. But this recipe is something else; it creates a uniquely lovely flavour. Trust the cinnamon sticks and the star anise – they work a treat.

thai noodles with cinnamon

Servings: 2Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 120g (4oz) thin dried egg noodles
  • 1 head of pak choi
  • 3-4 spring onions
  • ½ bunch Thai basil
  • 1 tbsp. groundnut oil plus a little more for the noodles
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3cm (1¼in) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ long or 1 short stick cinnamon, broken into shards
  • 150g (5oz.) shiitake mushrooms, large ones halved
  • 1½ tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 100ml water
  • 1 tbsp. ketjap manis (or 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce mixed with 1 tbsp. soft dark brown sugar)
  • a pinch ground cinnamon
  • a pinch ground cloves

METHOD

Soak the noodles for half the time the packet instruction says. Drain and rinse them with cold water, and toss with a little oil. Set aside.

noodles

Trim and shred the pak choi, keeping the light stalks separate from the green leaves. Chop spring onions separating the green parts similarly. Strip the Thai basil leaves and shred them very finely.

chopped greens

On a high heat, heat the oil in a wok. Add the garlic, ginger, star anise, cinnamon and stir fry for a minute. Add the shredded pak choi stalks, the chopped white part of spring onions and the mushrooms. Stir fry for about 3 minutes until the mushrooms start to wilt.

cooking aromatics

Add both soy sauces to the wok followed by oyster sauce, white pepper and ketjap manis. Stir it all well and pour in the water.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the drained noodles and toss well with long chopsticks or two large forks until everything is combined and the liquid is almost absorbed. Stir in the green parts of pak choi and spring onions, half the shredded Thai basil, cinnamon and cloves and take it off the heat.

cooking noodles in wok

Divide between the serving bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Thai basil.

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