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Recipe

Crispy pan-fried Chinese noodles

By Nina Simonds
March 11, 2009

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Serves 6

A pan-fried noodle cake is an ideal base for all types of toppings. In this variation, chicken, fresh shiitakes, garlic chives or leeks, and carrots, tossed in a savory sauce, are served on a bed of crisp, golden brown noodles. Instead of tossing the noodles in the wok, you can rinse them and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread the noodles out on a rimmed baking sheet. Brown them on both sides under a broiler, watching them carefully.

CHICKEN

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1. Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board. Holding the blade of your knife at a low diagonal to the board, cut the chicken into thin slices, then cut the slices in half; transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the soy sauce, rice wine or sake, sesame oil, garlic, and cornstarch. Toss lightly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

NOODLES

Olive oil (for the pan)
1/2 pound thin egg noodles, angel hair, or vermicelli

1. Generously oil an 8- or 9-inch round cake or pie pan.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 8 minutes or until they are tender but still have some bite. Drain them and transfer to the pan or pie plate. Press them evenly into the pan and let them cool into a cake.

SAUCE AND VEGETABLES

5 tablespoons rice wine or sake
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 pound snow peas, ends snapped, strings removed
5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, washed, stems removed, and thinly sliced
2 leeks, cut in 1 1/2-inch long julienne slices or 1/3 pound garlic chives, cleaned, ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1. For the sauce: In a bowl mix 2 1/2 tablespoons of the rice wine or sake, stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, and cornstarch; set aside.

2. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the snow peas for 10 seconds. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a bowl of cold water. Drain well.

3. Heat a wok or large skillet. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, and heat it until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and toss lightly over high heat until the chicken changes color and separates. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate. Clean out the pan.

4. Set the oven at 200 degrees. Reheat the wok or skillet. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, and heat until nearly smoking. Invert the noodle cake into the pan and cook to a deep, golden brown, swirling the pan from time to time to keep the cake from sticking. Flip the noodle cake over and brown on the other side. Transfer to a heatproof serving platter with plenty of room around it; keep warm in the oven.

5. Reheat the pan, add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, and heat until very hot. Add the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for about 10 seconds or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms, leeks or chives, and carrots. Stir-fry over high heat for about 1 minute.

6. Add the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or sake. Cook, stirring, for 1 1/2 minutes.

7. Stir the sauce into the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Add the chicken and snow peas and stir just to heat them. Spoon the chicken, vegetables, and sauce over the noodle cake.