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This morning we battled against the elements to cycle down to the Chinese New Year festivities in London’s Chinatown. Arriving windswept and soaked to the bone, we perhaps weren’t in the best frame of mind to throw ourselves into the celebrations with gusto.

By the time we’d almost been stabbed in the eye for the hundredth time by some totally unaware umbrella-wielding tourist we’d had enough. And when we saw the queue to get into any of the restaurants on Gerrard Street, let alone one of our favourites, the decision was made – we’d go home and cook something vaguely Chinese in the warmth and comfort of our own kitchen.

This was the result – probably not the slightest bit authentic but very tasty nonetheless!

beef and mushroom noodles with ginger pak choi

Beef and shiitake noodles with ginger pak choi

250g rump steak, cut into thin slices against the grain
1 tsp caster sugar
4 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp cornflower
4 spring onions
150g shiitake mushrooms
100g dried rice noodles
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp black bean sauce
½ tsp ground Sichuan pepper

Mix the beef with the caster sugar, 2 tsp of the soy sauce, the cornflower and a couple of teaspoons of water and set aside. Slice the spring onions into thin matchsticks, and cut any larger mushrooms into two or three pieces. Soak the noodles in boiling water until soft (5 minutes or so) then drain and rinse under cold water.

Heat the oil in a large wok and add the spring onions and mushrooms. Stir fry for a couple of minutes before adding the remaining 2 tsp of soy sauce, the black bean sauce, Sichuan pepper and beef. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the beef is browned and caramelised on the outside but still tender. Add the noodles and stir to heat through.

Serve with some greens – we simply stir fried some pak choi in 2 tsp of sesame oil, adding some chopped ginger, 2 tsp mirin and 1/2 tsp caster sugar for the last couple of minutes.

The whole experience was much more pleasant than standing in a queue in the rain for an hour, especially when we finished off the meal with the ultimate comfort food – rice pudding. I’m sure there’s a Chinese version out there somewhere but a good old-fashioned creamy pudding with a big dollop of home made marmalade is hard to beat.

Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Happy New Year!)

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