Never one to leave well enough alone, I’ve once again been tweaking and twisting, adding and amending. Often this is through store cupboard necessity, sometimes just sheer perversity. Whatever the reason, the results are always interesting.
Sometimes they simply don’t work (one memorable attempt to modify carbonara ended up with scrambled egg pasta), but sometimes they come out better than I expect. Substituting pheasant for chicken led me into a whole world of Indian game cooking, and maybe this’ll do the same for Sichuan food.
I had wanted to try out dan dan noodles for a while, but never got around to ordering it anywhere in town. Finally I thought sod it and just decided to make it as best I could from a book. For someone who is still a comparative novice when it comes to cooking Sichuan and similar, this was maybe a little foolhardy.
And indeed, what I ended up with could hardly be called dan dan noodles, but it was pretty tasty none the less. I had no chicken (or pork) but had found a neglected pack of partridge breasts in the back of the freezer that needed using.
And of course, I didn’t have all the right ingredients for the sauce, and some extra spinach hanging around. Blah blah blah. And this was the result. Definitely not dan-dan but curious and quite tasty. I just call it Spicy Partridge Noodles. It’s a Ronseal dish, does what it says on the tin. Enjoy.
Spicy partridge noodles
Feeds two and scales well
You could use any meat here, so long as it has some taste to it. If it’s factory farmed and been enclosed and shut away then don’t bother, you might as well use tofu. It’ll taste of more. The partridge had a wee gamey kick to it that added and built on the pungent salty and spicy sauce. And provided a nice contrast to the slight earthy bite of the spinach.
You could just as easily use pheasant, guinea fowl or joints of quail (cut each breast in half and leave the legs whole). May be even pigeon, although that might be a wee bit too gamey. I’m not sure. Whatever you use, have fun!
4 partridge breasts
A large bunch of water spinach – sliced into sections
2 cloves garlic – finely sliced
1 thumb ginger – finely sliced
Splash of soy
3 spring onions – chopped into 1cm pieces
5 dried chillies – chopped in half and seeds removed
One and half tblsp light soy
Half tblsp heavy soy
2 tblsp chilli oil and sediment
One and a half tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper corns
First, mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside. Put a pan of water on to boil for the noodles.
Now heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok until it’s smoking hot. Chuck in the chillies and stir and fry for about ten seconds then add the partridge and onions. Stir and fry for a couple of minutes until the meat starts to colour a little.
Now add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for a minute or so to release the aromas. Chuck in the spinach. I do by putting the stalky bits in first, stirring until they have softened, then add the leaves. Otherwise it all comes cascading out of the wok at the first stir.
Add a splash of light soy sauce and stir and fry until they have wilted, turn the heat down and let then simmer for a minute or two.
By now the noodle water will be simmering away, cook the noodles in it for two minutes, then drain and run under cold water. Drain and toss them in the sauce. Portion them out and spoon over the partridge and spinach. Eat.