There are countless recipes for noodle dishes to serve for the Lunar New Year celebration but the one constant is that the noodles (often handmade) are extra long to symbolise longevity. I like this recipe because it's made with chilled noodles, which work so well in the Australian summer. Use noodles you like to eat. I favour fresh udon noodles for their chewy texture.
400g fresh noodles (egg, rice, soba or udon)
150ml sesame dressing (see recipe below)
small handful green mizuna leaves
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
2tsp mustard dressing (see recipe below)
puffed wild rice* (see recipe below)
small handful fresh bean shoots, blanched
For the sesame dressing
1 dried shiitake mushroom
50ml rice vinegar
100g toasted sesame seeds
125ml Kewpie mayo
40ml light soy
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
125ml dashi stock or chicken stock
For the mustard dressing
15ml mustard oil
30ml rice wine vinegar
20ml sesame oil
15ml gluten-free soy
For the puffed wild rice*
1 cup grape seed oil
2 tbsp wild rice
1. To prepare the noodles, start by bringing a large pot of water to the boil. Plunge the bean shoots into the water and blanch for five seconds. Using a small sieve, scoop the shoots from the boiling water and plunge quickly into a large bowl of iced water. Using the same boiling water, cook the noodles according to the manufacturer's directions. When ready, strain and cool the noodles in the bowl of iced water.
2. When cool, remove the noodles from cold water immediately and toss in a few drops of grapeseed oil to stop the noodles from sticking together. Place the noodles in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
3. Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the shiitakes and saute with a little grapeseed oil in a pan. When cooked, remove pan from the heat and season with a little salt and pepper. When cool, slice shiitakes into thin slices and set aside.
4. To make the sesame dressing remove the stem from the shiitake, and rehydrate the cap in 60 millilitres of boiling water in a small bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to cool.
5. When cool, place all the sesame dressing ingredients, including the shiitake and soaking water, into an upright blender and puree until smooth. Place the dressing in the fridge. When ready to serve, the dressing should have the consistency of runny cream. If it seems a bit thick, add a little hot water to thin it out.
6. To make the mustard dressing combine all ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk and set aside.
7. To make the puffed wild rice bring the oil to 190C in a heavy-based saucepan. As this warms, line a dinner plate or tray with a sheet of paper towel. You will also need a fine wire sieve at the ready for the next step. When the oil has come to temperature, add the wild rice and cook for a few seconds. The rice should puff very quickly. Skim the rice out of the oil as soon as it appears to have puffed up. Transfer to the paper towel to drain and season with a pinch of salt.
8. When you are ready to serve, toss the noodles and bean shoots in the sesame dressing. Taste the noodles and add a little salt if needed. Arrange the noodles in four bowls. Dress the mizuna in the mustard dressing and arrange around the noodles. Top each bowl of noodles with a little stack of mushrooms and a sprinkling of puffed wild rice.
Serve with my steamed snapper with soy, ginger and spring onion as part of a Lunar New Year banquet.
*Puffed wild rice is available from health food stores