Tag Archives: noodles

Ching-He Huang’s Roast Duck Noodle Soup

We’re avid fans of the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen Live (isn’t James Martin such a pro?) and have been loving the re-runs of Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang’s Exploring China recently – we missed it the first time around. They’re such an enthusiastic pair, and so passionate about Chinese cuisine – its impossible for their excitement not to rub off on you. So we were delighted when we stumbled across Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy book in a North Street charity shop for £3 (plus another book free!). We snapped it up and this was the first recipe we made from it.

We love duck, though don’t cook with it very often as it can be quite expensive. Fats’ parents are lucky enough, living out in the country, to have neighbours occasionally drop by with a freshly killed duck or too – though his mum doesn’t always see it that way when the garage is full of them… This recipe makes a little go a long way, as the breast is sliced really thinly – in fact we adapted the recipe so it only uses one breast. We’ve also replaced a few of the harder-to-find ingredients with stuff that you can pick up in a supermarket (you should be able to find the rest in a Chinese food store, if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby). The result is still pretty authentic!

So for 2 people, you’ll need:

For the duck and marinade:

  • 1 duck breast fillet, skin on
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce

For the soup:

  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 80 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 100 g cabbage, sliced
  • 200 g cooked noodles (we used udon, our favourite!)
  • 1 spring onion, chopped diagonally
  • 40 g bean sprouts
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and place in a plastic food bag with the duck breast and seal. Wiggle it around so that it all gets covered, and put it in the fridge for anything between 20 minutes and overnight – as always with marinades, the longer the better.

Duck breast - after marinade. Lovely colour!
Duck breast – after marinade. Lovely colour!

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Remove the duck from its bag and pat it dry with some kitchen roll. Heat a pan over a high heat, and when it is scorching hot place the duck breast in the pan, skin side down, and cook for 1 minute. Turn it over and cook on the other side for a little longer – the breast should turn a nice golden brown – and then transfer to a baking tray, skin side up, and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

The duck crisps up a bit after frying
The duck crisps up a bit after frying

To make the soup, heat the chicken stock, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a pan. Add the mushroom and cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes, before adding the noodles to cook for a minute, and finally the spring onion, bean sprouts and chopped coriander. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Duck Soup Ingredients

Meanwhile, your duck should have finished in the oven – remove it and rest for a minute, to let it suck up all its juices. Carve into slices as thin you can – you should be able to get plenty of slices to feed 2 out of a decent-sized duck breast.

Duck Post Oven

Duck Sliced Thinly

Place the duck on top of the soup and sprinkle over a few coriander sprigs before serving.

Duck Soup

We thought this meal was pretty awesome – we’ve dabbled in Chinese food before but generally have stuck more with Thai flavours. Needless to say we can’t wait to get stuck in with the rest of Ching-He’s book!

Ching-He Huang

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King Prawn Stir-Fry with Tamarind and Oyster Sauce

We make stir-fries all the time – remember our steak with stir-fried veg? They’re really easy to throw together, quick (this one takes less than 20 minutes altogether!) and healthy too. If you’ve got a few store-cupboard essentials you don’t even need to buy any sauce, and it’s a great recipe for using up any left-over veg. Our tamarind and oyster sauce is really tasty, and would be a great one to show off to guests who like their stir-fries.

To make the sauce for 2 people:

  • Chunk of tamarind (see pic for size! About 3cm by 5cm), soaked in hot water and strained
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Groundnut oil
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar

And to make the rest of the stir-fry, throw together whatever veg you have lying around with some noodles! Here’s what we used:

  • 1 Courgette
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Pak Choi
  • Handful of Cabbage
  • 50g Mange Tout/Sugar Snap Peas
  • 10 King Size Prawns
  • 2 portions straight-to-wok noodles
This what raw tamarind looks like! You need a medium-sized chunk, it packs in loads of flavour.
This what raw tamarind looks like! You need a medium-sized chunk, it packs in loads of flavour.

Start by making the sauce. You’ll need to soak the tamarind for about half an hour in a bowl with boiling water, and then strain it through a sieve – make sure you manage to squeeze all of the flavour out of it. Mix together all the ingredients and give it a good stir. Depending on how you like your stir-fries, you could use more or less chilli – these proportions make a sauce that has a medium heat when using relatively firey chillies. A bit of a tip for ginger too – we keep loads frozen in the freezer in small chunks – it grates really well from frozen, and the flavour really comes through.

Raid the store cupboard for this sauce!
Raid the store cupboard for this sauce!

Once the sauce is made, slice up all the vegetables. How you slice depends on what veg you’re using, but as a general rule make sure that everything is sliced really thinly – especially hard vegetables like carrots – so that it cooks quickly and retains its crunch. No-one wants a soggy stir-fry! Add you veg to a wok with a splash of vegetable oil (or any other flavourless oil) and cook over a high heat, stirring regularly. Once the veg is close to cooked (this shouldn’t take longer than about 5 minutes) add the sauce, stir in and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the noodles, stir in again, then finally add the King Prawns and cook for another couple of minutes until they’re just pink – that’s it, you’re done!

Veg being Stir-Fried

You could try this sauce with different meats – it would be pretty good with chicken or turkey – and it would work with loads of different veg too. It’s a perfect go-to meal if you’ve had a long day at work, and is guaranteed to perk you up.

Stir-Fry in a Bowl

Thai Noodle Soup with Crispy Tofu

This was only our second ever time cooking with tofu. Bird is a big fan and often chooses it over meat options when eating Thai food out but our first attempt about two years ago fell a little flat (well, more accurately, it fell a little slimy). However we got a real craving for it and decided to try again. The tofu we bought helpfully had some cooking instructions on and told us to press the tofu for a better and firmer texture, we figured it knew best so went along with it. What a huge difference! Much firmer, much less fragile, and when cooked MUCH crispier! The extremely-helpful-packaging suggested a minimum of 10 minutes but we left ours for 30 minutes. To press tofu simply drain it of the fluid it’s packaged in and then wrap it in about 2-3 layers of kitchen paper. Place it on a chopping board with another chopping board on top and place a weight on it. This doesn’t have to be really heavy, we used 2 cookery books but a large saucepan would be perfect too. Then make yourself a cuppa and go and chill out for a while. When you come back to it simply unwrap it, use a fresh piece of kitchen paper to give it a wipe down and then get cooking!

Tofu marinading

Ingredients

  • 1 block of pressed tofu
  • 1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 spring onions, white parts sliced thinly, green parts sliced thicker on the diagonal
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • Zest of 1 lime (you will use the lime juice to season later)
  • noodles, either straight-to-wok or dried ones cooked and drained
  • vegetables, we used baby corn, mange tout and pak choi but use whatever you fancy making sure you have a mix of crunchy and leafy
  • dark soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • coriander leaves

Chop your tofu into 1-2 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Drizzle over around 1-2 tsp of dark soy sauce and let the flavour soak in. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add in the sugar, the white part of the spring onions, the garlic, the lime zest and most of the ginger and chilli – the rest will be cooked with the tofu. Let this simmer away for about 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle.

Onions, chilli, ginger

After this time grab a wok and heat the vegetable oil in it over a medium-high heat. Once hot throw in the tofu and the remaining ginger and chilli. Our tofu took about 7 minutes to become golden and crispy all over. Keep an eye on the tofu turning it over every 30 seconds or so to make sure it colours evenly. Put the noodles in with the soup and let it come back to the boil. This is the time to season it with dark soy sauce, fish sauce and lime – the amounts are completely up to you, try with 1 tsp of soy sauce and fish sauce and the juice of half a lime and then keep tasting and adding until it’s perfect for you.

Tofu fall

When the tofu is almost ready chuck the vegetables in with the soup, we reserved the leaves of the pak choi as they just need to wilt in. Let the vegetables cook for around 1 minute – you want them to retain some bite! At this stage pour the toasted sesame oil over the tofu, let it cook for a last few seconds and then tip into some kitchen paper to drain slightly. Season it with about 1 tsp of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Put any leafy vegetables in the soup to wilt and then serve immediately.

Crispy tofu

Dish yourself up a bowl of the noodle soup, top with the crispy tofu and garnish with the green parts of the spring onions and the coriander leaves – this would also be lovely with some crushed peanuts. We had ours with a wedge of lime to add extra zing at the table and a simple infusion of lemon and ginger to drink.

Tofu with noodle soup

This has filled us with confidence to try tofu again soon, maybe with a stir fry, a curry or a salad… any suggestions?

Noodle Soup with Prawns

This is another of our great week-night meals – quick, easy and fresh. It’s so simple and tastes amazing. Asian food can be quite intimidating at first glance, especially as there are so many flavours – but most of the ingredients for this noodle soup are store-cupboard staples in our house (so you only have to hunt them down once every few months!) and only the fresh ingredients need to be bought when you cook it. The stand-out flavours here are chilli, ginger, lime, lemongrass, soy sauce and fish sauce. If you have never tried fish sauce – don’t knock it! It’s used in place of salt in Asian cuisine and gives soups a really rich flavour. Just don’t use too much.

So, for 2 people you’ll need:

  • A thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 stick of lemongrass
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • A couple of limes
  • Fish sauce (to taste)
  • Dark soy sauce (to taste)
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 2 nests dried egg noodles
  • 10 prawns (we keep them in our freezer, very handy but defrost them first)
  • 100 g mange tout
  • 2 pak choi

Noodle Soup Ingredients

First, put the chicken stock in a decent sized pan (it shouldn’t fill it up – you’ll be packing it with veg in a minute) on a medium heat. While this comes to the boil finely chop your ginger, chilli and garlic and the white bits of the spring onions, bash up the lemongrass a bit with the butt of a knife, then throw them, along with the sugar, in with the stock. Leave this to simmer for about 10 minutes, to let the flavours infuse – slice up your pak choi and the rest of the spring onions while you’re waiting.

Those slices of ginger will be amazing pops of flavour, so don't chop too finely!
Those slices of ginger will be amazing pops of flavour, so don’t chop too finely!
Our chopping board doesn't get much healthier
Our chopping board doesn’t get much healthier

Put the noodles in with the stock, and after a couple of minutes add all your green veg. Don’t leave to cook for too long – you want nice crunchy veg! Add the juice of 1 lime, and fish sauce and soy sauce to taste – we suggest a teaspoon of each to get you started. Lastly add the prawns. Don’t cook these for too long either! There’s nothing worse (literally, nothing) than overcooked prawns. To get them nice and tender they shouldn’t need more than about a minute in the boiling soup.

Noodle Soup Done

Once everything is done, serve it with the a slice of lime each and the fish and soy sauce on the table, so you can adjust the seasoning to be perfect for you.

Chopsticks and fancy spoon optional, but they make it an occasion!
Chopsticks and fancy spoon optional, but they make it an occasion!

We cook this all the time, and often change around the ingredients – we’ve done it with chicken, salmon (fried so that it has lovely crispy skin) or tofu instead of prawns, and you can also swap out the veg and use any other Chinese leaf, babycorn, mushrooms – we try to use one crunchy vegetable and one leafy one to give a mix of textures and flavours. Use your imagination, and let us know how it turns out!