Here are two dishes to celebrate Chinese New Year on February 1: the first is a modern, simple twist on an old classic, and the other one of my father’s most popular creations. He conceived the noodle dish when he opened the first Poon’s & Co restaurant in London’s Chinatown in 1973, and even though that closed back in 2004, people still ask him about it. The char siu, meanwhile, is something we came up with when we did Poon’s pop-up a few years ago and needed an alternative to a traditional Chinese barbecue roasting oven.
Wok-roasted char siu
You need to use alcohol that’s over 50% ABV to break down the meat sufficiently.
Prep 10 min
Marinate 2 hr
Cook 30 min
6 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp Mei Kuei Lu Chiew rose petal liqueur, from any good Chinese food store (or absinthe, at a pinch)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp salt
500g pork belly strips
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Put everything except the pork belly, vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large shallow dish. Lay the strips of pork in the marinade, massage well with your hands, then set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes, during which time the meat will release liquid into the marinade.
Massage the pork again, this time until the lean meat feels silky to the touch, then leave to marinate at room temperature for a further hour and a half.
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok. Lay the strips of pork belly in the hot wok, pour over the marinade, bring up to a bubble, then cover and cook for two to three minutes, swirling the wok constantly to stop the meat sticking to the sides. Turn over the pork, do the same on the other side, and repeat until the sugar caramelises and the pork takes on colour on both sides – this should take about 20-25 minutes. Remove the pork from the wok, sprinkle over the sesame oil, then slice diagonally and serve.
- UK readers: click to buy these ingredients from Ocado
Lisle Street zha jiang noodles
Slurp it and see: Amy (and Bill) Poon’s zha jiang noodles.
This will make more broth than you need here, but the excess freezes very well and will save you time when you next fancy having zha jiang noodles. And don’t forget to save the strained pork ribs from the broth – I love dipping them in soy sauce. The chicken will be a bit dry after three hours’ boiling, so strip the flesh off the bones, chop or shred it finely and use for spring roll and dumpling fillings, or for fried rice.Advertisementhttps://def4a3cef655e3767fbfdfeef7b9799c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Prep 10 min
Cook 3 hr+
Serves 4, with leftovers
For the sauce
480g pork belly, boned and rind removed
45g potato starch, or cornflour
Sunflower oil, for frying
1 tsp (3g) crushed dried red chilli flakes
3 tsp (8g) red chilli powder
30g finely chopped garlic
15g hoisin sauce
20g yellow bean paste, or brown rice miso
140g tomato ketchup
20ml light soy sauce
20g pure sesame oil
15g caster sugar½ tsp (1g) ground white pepper
For the soup
1 chicken (about 1½kg)
1kg pork ribs
1 tsp salt
400g fine egg noodles (ie 100g per person)
Finely chopped spring onions and fresh coriander, to garnish
First start the soup. Put the chicken and pork ribs in a large stockpot, cover with cold water, bring up to a rolling boil, until foam rises to the top, then drain. Wash the meat under running cold water to rinse off any remaining impurities and clean out the pot. Return the meat to the stockpot and cover with five litres of water. Add the salt, bring to a boil, then turn down to a bare simmer and leave to cook uncovered for three to four hours, until the broth has reduced by about two-thirds.
Meanwhile, start the sauce. Cut the pork belly into 3mm-thick slices, then cut these into 3mm-wide batons, leaving you with 3mm x 3mm x 4-5cm long strips. Put these in a large bowl, add the potato starch and toss gently to coat evenly – this will take some patience, because you don’t want the flour to clump.
Heat a wok or a large, high-sided frying pan and add a tablespoon of sunflower oil. Once the pan is very hot, and working in batches, stir-fry the pork batons until golden brown all over and the fat starts to melt. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and repeat with the rest of the pork.
Return all the pork and any juices from the bowl to the wok, add the chilli flakes and powder, and stir-fry for about four minutes, until fragrant. Add the garlic, stir-fry for a minute or two, taking care it doesn’t catch and burn, then stir in the hoisin, bean paste, ketchup, soy, sesame oil, sugar and white pepper. Simmer, stirring constantly, for seven minutes, then take off the heat.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling water for two minutes, then drain and spread out on a clean tea towel – they’ll carry on cooking in the residual heat, and this way they’ll stay springy.
To serve, put a 100g portion of noodles into each bowl, cover with a ladle or two of strained broth and top with a generous spoonful of the pork belly sauce. Finish with a scattering of finely chopped spring onion and fresh coriander.
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