To serve the dish, Hui says to ensure that the crispy side faces up (to prevent the condensation on the plate from softening the crispy side) and to add the vinegar first before sprinkling the sugar over the top so that the sugar granules add to the crunch of the noodles. Despite the presence of the sugar, the noodle is not intended as a dessert; in fact, it is usually served as the final savory dish in a Chinese banquet where a carbohydrate—usually rice or noodles—customarily concludes the meal.
Makes 8 servings (as part of a larger meal)
- 10 ounces fresh Hong Kong-style Chiu Chow egg noodles (or fresh thin egg noodles with alkaline solution, such as wonton noodles)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups Chinese superior stock or chicken broth
- 3 stalks of Chinese chives (preferably the yellow variety), chopped into 1-inch lengths
- Zhenjiang (Chinkiang) vinegar, to taste
- Granulated sugar, to taste
Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat until a bamboo skewer or chopstick inserted vertically causes a steady stream of air bubbles to rise around the stick. Meanwhile, set a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and set it next to the stove.
Pull the noodles apart gently to loosen the strands, being careful not to break them. Carefully put the noodles into the hot oil, tossing them around to deep-fry. When the noodles are crisp and firm enough to hold their shape, transfer them to the cooling rack to drain off excess oil.
Drain off the oil in the wok, wipe it clean, put it back on medium-high heat, add the stock, and bring it to a boil. Add the drained noodles, ladling the stock over to soften them. Reduce the heat to medium and continue ladling the stock over the noodles. Turn the noodles if necessary and spread the noodles out in the wok to ensure that the strands absorb the stock evenly.
With around a third of the stock remaining, use a spatula to shape the noodle into a round pancake, ensuring an equal thickness (about 1/3 inch) throughout. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the stock continue to reduce and leave the pancake untouched. When the stock is fully absorbed, use the spatula to lift the edge of the pancake to check on the crust. When the crust holds its shape and is golden brown, remove it from the wok, flipping it onto a flat plate, crust side up.
Cut the pancake into wedges (like you would a pizza) and garnish with the yellow chives. Serve immediately with the vinegar and the sugar alongside, adding them as suggested in the headnote.
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