Hakka Noodles in Lettuce Cups
We just purchased the tickets for our next trip to Paris. My best friend Alexia is getting married and I wouldn't miss it for the world. For this reason, my husband Lulu and I have committed ourselves to looking good and being healthy for the occasion. I've controlled the portion size of our meals and we work out as often as we possibly can. This morning, Lulu woke up early to play football with friends and while he was busy during his game, I whipped up a light meal for him.
I tossed hakka noodles (vegetarian wheat noodles made without eggs) with mock ground meat, julienned carrots, bell peppers and yellow onions. I served them at room temperature in lettuce cups and added sweet potato shoestrings as a crunchy garnish. Whenever I make a dish, I try to balance the textures and colors, which I find key to the success of any meal. The sweet potato shoestrings, in particular, are extremely versatile and can be used as the crunchy element in many savory dishes. They didn't quite make my first cookbook, Haute Potato, but I still highly recommend trying them. You'll end up eating them by the handful!
As I mentioned last week, I will be posting a vegetarian dish on "Meatless Mondays" and a scrumptious dessert for the weekend. I figure one will cancel out the other. Last weekend I shared a Meyer lemon mousse in wonton cups, and this week, well you'll just have to come back on Friday and see!
Yields: 12 servings1 (16-ounce) package hakka noodles
¼ cup vegetable oil, as needed
½ (12-ounce) package veggie protein crumbles (or ground beef)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt
2 zucchini, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chili black bean sauce, to taste
1½ teaspoons freshly grated palm sugar (optional)
⅓ cup soy sauce
⅓ cabbage, shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
1 teaspoon white vinegar
3 tablespoons water, as needed, to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2 dozen butter lettuce leaves
¼ cup curly parsley, chopped
½ sweet potato, peeled
½ Japanese white sweet potato, peeled
For the sweet potato shoestrings:
Peel and shred both the sweet potatoes using a mandoline. Place in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with ice water (it should barely cover the potatoes. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain the liquid. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a large pan, add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle about 4-5 tablespoons sweet potatoes (working in several batches) evenly into the pan. Do not stir. Wait for at least 2 minutes until one side is nicely fried, crisp and golden. Flip the sweet potatoes using chopsticks. Continue until all the sweet potato is fried and crunchy. Add more oil if necessary.
Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. As soon as all the oil is drained, transfer to a large bowl.
For the noodles:
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Place the noodles in the boiling water, return the water to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low. That way the pasta is cooked evenly all the way through. Separate the noodles using chopsticks. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the noodles and they will be softer) and keep stirring every now and then so the noodles don't stick to the bottom. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. When the noodles are cooked (firm but still in shape), drizzle about 1 tablespoon of canola oil, then drain the noodles. Discard the liquid. Set aside.
Stir-frying the vegetables:
Add a tablespoon of oil to the same wok. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the veggie protein crumbles (or beef if using). Using a wooden spoon, separate the crumbles, then add the carrots. Stir-fry for about 2 minutes. When the carrots are softened, season with salt. Add the diced zucchini and cabbage. Cook for another minute. Add the bell pepper. Don't overcook the vegetables as they will continue cooking with the noodles later.
Prepping the butter lettuce: Wash and spin dry the whole butter lettuce leaves. Set aside.
In the same wok, add the green onions to the veggies and protein crumbles. Add the chili black bean sauce, palm sugar (if used), vinegar and soy sauce. Stir-fry for about 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked noodles and bean sprouts. Drizzle a little water (about ¼ cup) so the ingredients don't stick to the bottom of the wok. Stir fry constantly for 5 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes or to room temperature. Sprinkle with black pepper and parsley.
Cover a serving platter with the whole lettuce leaves and fill each lettuce cup with the noodles. Top with the crunchy sweet potatoes.
I used these particular vegetables but you can add any other vegetables that are in season such as broccoli, eggplant or shiitake mushrooms.
For fast, even cooking, make sure all the vegetables are cut the same size.
The sweet potato shoestrings add a touch of sweetness and crispness to the dish, which is very nice. Once fried, the natural sweetness takes on an almost caramel-like flavor.Published By: on March 25, 2013.