July 24, 2024


Free For All Food

From stir-fry to pudding: Yotam Ottolenghi’s noodle recipes | Food

From stir-fry to pudding: Yotam Ottolenghi’s noodle recipes | Food

Everyone (still) sitting comfortably? Still eating well? November, hey? Eating-wise, the month has, for me, increasingly become about turning to food that comforts. Comfort food means different things to different people, of course. For some, it suggests something that can be happily slurped or that has to be eaten from a bowl. For others, it’s a meal that can be thrown together quickly or, conversely, that requires a bit of time to perfect. For others still, comfort food is always something sweet. My general answer to this search for comfort is noodles, and my specific answer is this week’s recipes.

Stir-fried noodles with sambal and crab (pictured above)

I’ve used rice vermicelli, which are very light, but if you’re using another type of noodle, you may want to increase the portion weight. The crab is a perfect match, but tinned sardines or leftover cooked white fish also work well. You could even leave the seafood out altogether, in which case serve the noodles with just the sambal and the coconut sauce.

Prep 8 min
Cook 8 min
Serves 2

60g coconut oil
5 fresh makrut lime leaves

170ml tinned coconut cream
100g dried rice vermicelli
, cooked as per packet instructions
200g picked crab, ideally a mix of white and brown meat (optional)
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 spring onions, trimmed and julienned
2 limes, cut into wedges, to serve
Flaked sea salt

For the sambal
4 red chillies, deseeded
180g sweet cherry tomatoes
10g fresh turmeric root
, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
10g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 small shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
2½ tbsp soy sauce
2½ tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp green (or black) peppercorns
, roughly crushed
20ml lime juice

Put all the ingredients for the sambal in the small bowl of a food processor, add a teaspoon of flaked salt and blitz smooth.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan on a high heat, add the lime leaves and two-thirds of the sambal, and stir-fry for three minutes (careful: it might spit). Add the coconut cream and stir-fry for two minutes more.

Add the cooked noodles, toss to combine, then turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining sambal, the chives and the picked crab (reserve a little to finish the dish). Transfer to a platter, garnish with the spring onion and the reserved crab, and serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top.

Biang biang noodles with numbing oil and tahini soy sauce

Yotam Ottolenghi’s biang biang noodles with numbing oil and tahini soy sauce.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s biang biang noodles with numbing oil and tahini soy sauce.

This is inspired by Xi’an Impression, a fantastic restaurant in north London that serves the food of Shan Xi Province in China. During the first lockdown, my colleague Ixta Belfrage came up with this recipe in homage to her two favourite dishes there: biang biang noodles and cucumber salad with special sesame sauce. It became a bit of a viral sensation, as people all over the world took to Instagram to pull and slap their own noodles. It’s important to use a plain flour with 10-12% protein – any less than 10 %, and the dough will rip, rather than stretch (you can find the protein levels in the nutritional information on the side of the packet). Don’t worry if the noodles rip at the ends – they’ll still taste great with the sauces. The technique takes practice, and you’ll get better as you make them, I promise. (You can find step-by-step video guides on Ixta’s Instagram story highlights.)

Prep and rest 3 hr
Cook 1 hr+
Serves 2

For the noodles
300g plain flour (10-12% protein)
½ tsp salt
150g water
(yes, I know that works out to 150ml, but for this I always weigh it out, to be super-precise)

For the numbing oil
150ml sunflower oil
1 banana shallot
, peeled and finely chopped (60g)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
10g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ red chilli, finely chopped
1 whole star anise
1 tbsp red bell pepper flakes
1 tsp chilli flakes
1½ tsp Szechuan peppercorns
, roughly crushed
1½ tsp tomato paste
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame seeds

For the tahini and soy sauce
60g tahini (mixed very well, to combine the solids and fat)
2 tbsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
1½ tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp water

To serve
2 spring onions, trimmed and julienned
½ large cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds scooped out and discarded, flesh cut into 1½cm dice
1½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

For the noodles, mix the flour and salt in a bowl, then very slowly pour in the water, stirring with a chopstick the whole time, until the mix comes together into a dough – it will look on the dry side once all the water has been added, but don’t be tempted to add any more.

Transfer to a work surface and knead for about five minutes, until the dough comes together into a shaggy ball. You’ll need to use some muscle here, because it will be quite tough. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

After the dough has rested, knead again vigorously for 10 minutes, until it’s very smooth: it should by now have the texture of Play-Doh and, if you poke it, the indentation should remain, rather than spring back. Cover again with a tea towel and rest for another 10 minutes.

Grease a tray with vegetable oil. Cut the dough into eight equal pieces of about 55g each, then roll each piece into a sausage and place on the greased tray. Cover with cling-film and leave to rest at room temperature for two to three hours.

Meanwhile, make the numbing oil. Heat two tablespoons of sunflower oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high heat, add the next eight ingredients and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, turn down the heat to medium and fry very gently for five minutes, stirring often, until the shallot is soft. Add the tomato paste and all the sesame seeds, and cook for another two minutes. Stir in the remaining 120ml oil, reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for 20 minutes – if the oil starts to bubble at all, take it off the heat for a minute, to cool down. Turn off the heat and leave to cool and infuse for at least an hour.

For the tahini soy sauce, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl until very smooth.

Once the dough has rested, flatten each sausage into a rectangle: grease a work surface, then, working with one piece at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough sausage into a 16cm x 8cm rectangle. Use a chopstick to make an indent across the middle of the rectangle – this will be your “ripping line” later. Repeat with the other seven dough sausages, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Put a large spoonful each of the numbing oil and tahini soy sauce into two serving bowls and put to one side.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, and again working with one piece of dough at a time, take both ends of the dough rectangle between your thumb and fingers of each hand, and start to pull slowly and gently, until you feel there is no more tension left. Still holding both ends, slap the noodle down on the work surface about five times, gently stretching it out more as you go.

Lower the now stretched noodle on to the work surface, then, using the indent you made earlier, tear it in half lengthways to form a large, closed loop. Drop the noodle straight into the pan of boiling water, and cook for about a minute, or until it floats to the top Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, adding them to the water as they’re stretched and ripped. Drain the cooked noodles well, then transfer them to the serving bowls.

Use chopsticks to mix the noodles with the oil and sauces, adding more of each to taste. Top with the spring onion, cucumber and sesame seeds, and serve with more soy sauce drizzled on top.

Coconut and pineapple sweet vermicelli

Yotam Ottolenghi’s coconut and pineapple sweet vermicelli.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s coconut and pineapple sweet vermicelli.

Served hot on a cold winter’s day, this is as comforting for breakfast as it is for pudding. Save the recipe for sunnier times, too, because it’s also delicious eaten cold, straight from the fridge.

Prep 10 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4

100g angel hair pasta, roughly broken into 4cm pieces
1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut milk
50g raw virgin coconut oil
400ml water

3 cardamom pods, lightly bashed open with a pestle
2 makrut lime leaves, lightly bruised by hand
60g caster sugar
2 tbsp desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

For the pineapple caramel
200g pineapple, peeled and cored, flesh cut into 2cm x 1cm pieces
100g caster sugar
1 lime
– zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, and juiced, to get 1 tbsp
40g coconut oil

In a large saute pan, toast the pasta on a medium heat, stirring frequently, for five minutes, or until lightly golden brown: don’t worry if it’s not all perfectly toasted. Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, water, cardamom, bruised lime leaves, a pinch of salt and the sugar, bring to a boil, then turn the heat back down to medium and leave to simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring often, or until the pasta has softened and the mixture thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the sugar all over the base of a medium saucepan, add two tablespoons of water and leave to cook on a medium heat, without stirring, for eight minutes, until you have a golden caramel. Stir in the pineapple, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and the lime juice, and cook, stirring frequently, for eight minutes more. Stir in the coconut oil, cook for another three minutes, until the caramel has thickened to a butterscotch-like consistency, then set aside.

Divide the pasta mixture between four bowls, then top with the pineapple caramel, desiccated coconut and lime zest. Squeeze the lime wedges on top before serving.