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Easy Asian Noodles

by: Helen Chen

Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons 2010, $17.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-470-38755-9

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2010 Issue: 17(3) page(s): 22

In the: Helen Chen's Asian Kitchen series, this book highlights preparing and eating hot and cold, pan-fried, and simmered noodles the major ways they are prepared in many Asian countries. Its sixty recipes, photographed by Jason Wyche and styled by Jamie Kimm, follow acknowledgments, a short introduction, a nine-item noodle glossary, how to cook, serve, and hot to eat these pasta-foods. It shows and discusses seven typical Asian tools for making them, and there is a seventeen-item food glossary.

Before each recipe written in standard style, is a set of explanatory sentences providing an excellent introduction. Many recipes have a full-page full-color photograph of the completed dish. After the recipes is a three-column two-page recipe index by recipe title and by food category.

The author's mother, Joyce Chen, was a pioneering Chinese restauranteur at whose apron strings Helen learned to cook and prepare great food. Later, she served as CEO of her Mom's company then founded Helen's Asian Kitchen. She now widely distributes a large line of Asian cookware.

Helen Chen travels frequently to China, tries and tastes new recipes and equipment, and successfully cooks many Western and Asian dishes, noodles among them. The ones in this book are all worth making a trip to your stove then sitting down at your table. We particularly like the one that follows, hers better than many prepared or eaten elsewhere.
Ants Climbing Trees II
1/2 pound ground pork
4 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces bean threads
4 medium dried Chinese black mushrooms
2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 slices fresh ginger, peeled or not, your choice
3 scallions, white part cut in half, and cut into one-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1. In medium bowl, mix pork with soy sauce, wine, sugar, and cornstarch.
2. Soak bean threads in hot, but not boiling water, until they are soft, then carefully drain them and cut into shorter lengths. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for fifteen minutes, drain, and reserve two tablespoons of the soaking liquid. Squeeze mushrooms dry, and cut away and discard the stems before shredding the caps.
3. Heat wok then add the oil and then the ginger and stir a few seconds before adding the pork mixture and the chili sauce. Stir this about two minutes until the pork breaks up.
4. Add mushrooms and scallions, and stir constantly until the pork is thoroughly cooked, then add reserved liquid and the noodles and stir about two minutes then remove to a serving dish.
5. Drizzle with sesame oil, stir once or twice, sprinkle with the cilantro leaves, and serve.

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