This dish is about the buckwheat noodles even more than any of the other interesting ingredients. I love buckwheat, especially for winter pilaffs with mushrooms, dill, fennel, yoghurt and the like, but it’s very hard to find an audience for that kind of thing in a restaurant, while everyone loves noodles. Don’t buy the 100 per cent buckwheat variety - they are impossible to cook - Japanese 40 per cent are best. If you can’t read the instructions, cook them like spaghetti in lots of boiling water, checking them often, and cool them under cold water to stop the cooking. The quantities here are approximate minimum amounts per person. To be honest, it’s hard to conceive of doing this for more than two in a wok. I cook stir fries one at a time (or in up to three separate woks, if necessary) so if you’re frying for more than two, prepare everything first and do one or two portions at a time. In any case, it is good practice for all stir frying to prepare everything before frying, thus allowing you to concentrate on the wok. The sauce recipe makes about 1 litre, enough for eight to ten people, and it keeps and reheats very well. Make sure it’s hot when it hits the wok or it will slow the dish to a simmering stew instead of a stir fry.
CHOP THE ONION AND FENNEL INTO QUARTERS, put them in a pot with the garlic, chillies and the stock, bring it to the boil and simmer for half an hour over a very low heat. Then strain off the solids and return the liquid to the pot. Add the ginger, the sambal, tomato and shoyu, and simmer for another ten minutes or so. Mix the cornflour with a little cold water, stir it into the stock and simmer for five minutes more. Reheat as much as you need, in a small pan, as you cook the stir fry.
To make the eggrolls, lightly beat the egg(s), with some salt and pepper. In a non-stick or crepe pan, make thin pancakes - you should get two per egg. You can either flip the pancake over for a few seconds, or use a slice to roll it up in the pan as it cooks - this gives a softer, fatter roll. Slice the eggrolls into strips. This can be done up to a few hours before you finish the stir fry.
Cook the buckwheat noodles, rinse them in cold water, and drain them. Slice the onion very thinly in quarter rounds. How you slice the mushrooms depends on the variety you use - moist, fast cooking ones, like oysters can be left whole or halved, others may need to be sliced thinly. Slice the stalk of the pak choy diagonally about 1cm thick and tear the leaves coarsely. Heat some cooking oil to a high temperature in a wok, toss in the onion and fry it for a minute, stirring with a tongs or chopsticks. Now toss in the mushrooms and pak choy and fry on, keeping the temperature high and the vegetables moving. Just as the vegetables are done, throw in the eggrolls, the cooked noodles and about 100mls of hot sauce per person. Heat this through, mixing the noodles and vegetables together as you go, then tip it out on to plates. Now, if you’re cooking for more than two, go and do it all again. Who’d be a cook, as my mother would say.
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