The blog's been a little quiet for a couple of months now, the main reason being I was without flat (reduced to sofa surfing) and then moving flat. Add to that work and study and I've just had no time. I've now moved in though and have recently added a large wooden kitchen block to the new kitchen so I, for probably the first time in my life, have somewhere I can clamp my pasta machine and work with the dough unimpeded. Currently the two portions of pasta I've made with it share the £25 cost of the machine between them so anything that can reduce their cost below £12.50 a portion is good with me. Add to this wanting to utilise my new kitchen block and the obvious candidate for the new flat's first blog post was pan mee.
This recipe requires a couple of slightly tricky to get ingredients, but not tricky enough that your local Chinese supermarket won't have them. These are belachan (shrimp paste, Thai shrimp paste will do otherwise), dried shrimp and ikan bilis, the small salted and dried anchovies beloved in SE asia. All three of these are pungent little things which smell pretty rough but taste divine, packing umami by the bucketload. For the chili sauce especially you really want to get the windows open if you can. Whilst my kitchen has a lovely kitchen block it is without windows to the outside world and I think I could still smell the fermented shrimp products this morning. The frying anchovies add another distinct aroma too, luckily not as strong but almost as lingering.
If this hasn't put you off (the flavour is worth the smell) then read on.
Pan Mee Recipe, serves 4
250gr strong white flour
250gr plain white flour
1/2 ts salt
Topping Ingredients300gr minced pork
1 ts light soy
1 ts cornflour
1 ts dark soy
1 TB oyster sauce
Greens from a couple of spring onions
A couple of handfuls of ikan bilis/dried anchovies
1cm belachan (2 ts of Thai shrimp paste if that's what you have)
25 dried chilies, I used big Thai ones - stems discarded, seeds kept (they don't seem to mind them over there)
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 TB dried shrimp, soaked for 10 mins in warm water
1/2 ts Sichuan pepper
100ml vegetable oil
First thing to do is make up the chili sauce. This will make way more than you need but if done correctly (so dried out nicely) it will keep indefinitely and a teaspoon will transform any noodle dishes or soups.
Put all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blitz till everything is very finely chopped.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, till it is dry and dark. This will take at least half an hour so set the heat accordingly, you don't want anything to burn. You should be left with a thick, dark, oily chili mixture - and a very smelly kitchen.
Rinse until the water runs clear. Pull off the heads, rinse again and then leave in the fridge for half an hour to dry.
Heat a centimetre or two of oil in a saucepan then deep fry the anchovies till dark brown and crispy.
Drain onto kitchen paper and set aside.
Mix the dry ingredients, add water and stir till combined into a dough. Cover in clingfilm and leave for an hour, this should negate the need for much kneading.
Mix the mince with the light soy and cornflour and a little salt then leave to marinade for a bit.
Heat some oil in a wok and fry till coloured, add the dark soy and oyster sauce, stir till well then cook for a minute or two until dry.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add some salt.
Give the dough a quick knead till smooth (this should be very easy after the long rest) then break off a quarter and run it through a pasta machine a couple of times on a medium setting.
Cut into tagliatelli width, either with the pasta machine or with a knife. Repeat for the rest of the dough.
Boil noodles for 1 - 2 minutes until they float and are cooked. Separate between four bowls.
Briefly poach the eggs (1 minute or so) then place one in each bowl. You are only looking for them to hold together, not be cooked, the heat from the noodles will finish them off.
Place 1/4 of the pork in each bowl along with 1/4 of the anchovies.
Top with a sprinkle of spring onion.
The diners should take some chili sauce (I like a heaped teaspoon, this is quite warm) then quickly stir everything together, breaking the egg and mixing everything into a sauce that coats the noodles.
Eat and smile.