Uncovering the delectable secrets of authentic Chinese cuisine is Fuchsia Dunlop’s specialty. It’s why she’s our expert guide on our two gastronomic tours: Gastronomic Tour of China and Yunnan Gastronomic Tour. Fuchsia’s been up to some noteworthy activities and they’re going to leave your mouth watering.
Fuchsia Dunlop’s newest book, Land of Fish and Rice, chronicles her culinary voyages through the heart of Jiangan province. The region is known across China as the ‘Land of Fish and Rice’ due to its plentiful produce and the tasty recipes Fuchsia creates along the journey are sure to be a hit with your loved ones.
So, don your apron and get your wok ready for action with this recipe excerpt from the book:
Shanghai Noodles with Dried Shrimp and Spring Onion Oil
kai yang cong you mian 开洋葱油面
This Shanghainese recipe also appears in Every Grain of Rice, but I had to include it here because I find it one of the most indispensable Jiangnan recipes. The combination of oil infused with the fragrance of spring onion and dried shrimp and the umami savoriness of soy sauce is irresistible, however simple it sounds.
I eat this dish so often that I have taken to making the flavored oil in large quantities and keeping it in the fridge—although I’m not even sure it requires refrigeration. I keep fresh Chinese noodles in my freezer too, which means that I can have a bowlful of this gorgeous snack a mere 10 minutes after thinking of it: all that’s required is to boil some water, cook the noodles from frozen and dress them in the fragrant oil and light soy sauce. I eat them for breakfast, lunch and midnight feasts, sometimes with a salad on the side. The recipe is said to have been invented by a street vendor near the City God Temple in Shanghai.
2 tbsp dried shrimp
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
4 spring onions
4–5 tsp light or tamari soy sauce, to taste
6 tbsp cooking oil
7 oz (200g) dried noodles of your choice or 10 oz
(300g) fresh noodles
Put the dried shrimp in a small bowl with the Shaoxing wine and just enough hot water to cover them and leave to soak for half an hour. Smack the spring onions slightly with the flat side of a Chinese cleaver or a rolling pin to loosen their fibers, then cut them evenly into 2½–2¾ in (6–7cm) sections. Pour the soy sauce into your serving bowl.
Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the spring onions and stir-fry until they are turning a little golden. Drain the shrimp, add them to the wok and continue to stir-fry until the spring onions are well browned and wonderfully fragrant, but not burned. Then set aside this fragrant oil, along with the spring onions and shrimp.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the noodles to your liking, then drain them well and put them in the serving bowl. Put the spring onions, shrimp and their fragrant oil on top and serve. Mix everything together very well with a pair of chopsticks before eating.
Fancy yourself as a budding chef or just want to eat like one? We have two foodie tours that will entice both the culinary artist and the home cook. Read more about Fuchsia Dunlop’s Gastronomic Tour of China or our Yunnan Gastronomic Tour with Fuchsia Dunlop, and join us on a journey to the heart of Chinese cuisine.