If you’re like everyone else who overindulged during the holidays, you’re probably feeling a little bloated. Now is the time for comfort food – dishes that are satisfying but not too heavy, and easy to make with familiar flavours. These dishes are quick, too: the first one should take less than 30 minutes to prepare all the ingredients and only about five to cook them. As with all fried rice dishes, the second recipe needs leftover cooked rice, something that many of us are rarely without in our fridges.
This Korean-Chinese dish is often called chow ma mein at restaurants in the United States. Champon, the Japanese version, uses little to no spice and the broth is milky, but it has a lot more cabbage, as well as beansprouts (which you can add to this recipe, if you like). Restaurants often make this with only seafood (which you can do), but I prefer a mixture of seafood and pork belly (although dark-meat chicken is also good).
6-8 dried wood ear mushrooms, depending on size
½ a medium-sized onion
2 large garlic cloves
100 grams carrot
1 Japanese or Chinese cucumber, about 140 grams
1 baby napa cabbage, about 250 grams
1 each of red and green banana chillies
2 spring onions
4-6 Chinese flat chives
180 grams pork belly (with or without skin, as you prefer)
4-6 fresh shrimp, with bodies about 6cm long (with or without the shells and heads, as you prefer)
4-6 fresh squid, with bodies about 6cm long (or use 4-6 clams or mussels)
About 30ml cooking oil
2 tbsp chilli flakes (gochugaru), or to taste
2 fresh or dried red bird’s-eye chillies
700ml unsalted chicken stock, preferably home-made
15ml Korean fish sauce
Fine sea salt
Fresh Chinese wheat noodles, enough for two
Rinse the wood ear mushrooms then put them in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave until fully hydrated. Cut the mushrooms into thin strips. Slice the onion about 3mm thick and thinly slice the garlic. Cut the carrot into thin matchsticks. Cut the cucumber widthwise into three pieces. Thinly slice each piece then stack the slices and cut them into matchsticks. Halve the napa cabbage lengthwise and remove the core, then cut the vegetable into 2cm-wide pieces. Slice the banana chillies on the diagonal into 5mm-thick pieces, and the spring onions and garlic chives into 5cm lengths. Thinly slice the pork belly. Pull the tentacles from the squid bodies, then trim off and discard the beak and eyes. Clean the squid bodies, removing the quill and guts, then peel off and discard the skin. Cut the bodies into rings or strips. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and boil the noodles until done, then drain, rinse and drain again.
Place a wok over a high flame and when it’s hot, pour in the oil. Add the pork, sprinkle it with salt and stir-fry until lightly browned. Add the onion and garlic, then sprinkle with the chilli flakes and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the carrot, cucumber, cabbage, mushroom, banana chillies and bird’s-eye chillies and mix, then stir in the spring onion and chive. Pour in the chicken stock and fish sauce and bring to the boil. Season to taste with salt and add more chilli flakes, if needed, then simmer until the pork is tender (about three minutes). Stir in the shrimp and the squid tentacles and body parts, simmer for about a minute, then turn off the flame.
Rinse the noodles with hot water until they are no longer sticky then drain and divide them between two bowls. Ladle the soup and ingredients over the noodles and serve immediately.
FRIED RICE WITH SALTED FISH, CHICKEN, EGG, PEAS AND LETTUCE
1 boneless, skinless chicken thigh
5ml soy sauce
5ml rice wine
¼ tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp cornstarch
A pinch of finely ground white pepper
A meaty piece of salted fish fillet, about 60 grams
500 grams cooked rice, chilled
1 large egg
About 40ml cooking oil, divided
50 grams petits pois, thawed, if frozen
2 large iceberg lettuce leaves, cut in half and then into strips
1 spring onion, cut into 5mm pieces
Fine sea salt, to taste
Cut the chicken into 8mm cubes then mix with the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, cornstarch, white pepper and a pinch of salt. Rinse the salted fish with cold water then pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the salted fish into 5mm cubes. Wet your hands with water and shake them dry, then rub the rice between your palms to break up the clumps. Whisk the egg in a small bowl.
Place a well-seasoned wok over a high flame and coat it with about 20ml of cooking oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add the salted fish and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked. Put the chicken and salted fish into a bowl.
Pour the remaining oil into the wok set over a high flame. When the wok is hot, add the rice and season to taste with salt. Stir fry until the rice is hot, then use the spatula to push the rice to the sides of the wok to create a well. Pour the egg into the well and stir with the tip of the spatula until the egg is almost cooked. Mix the egg into the rice then add the petits pois, chicken and salted fish to the wok and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the lettuce and stir-fry until it wilts then turn off the flame and mix in the spring onion. Divide the ingredients between two bowls and serve immediately.