This is a substantial one-dish meal my mother would serve on the cold winter nights of my childhood in Chicago.
Once the meatballs are made, the rest is easily assembled. You can, of course, add any vegetable in season to supplement the soup. This is characteristic Chinese family cooking: simple, but solid, nutritious and tasty.
Soak the noodles in warm water for 15 minutes. Drain well.
If you are using fresh water chestnuts, peel them and coarsely chop them. If you are using tinned ones, rinse them well and coarsely chop them. Mix the pork with the egg white and cold water by hand. The mixture should be light and fluffy. Do not use a blender as it would make the mixture too dense. Then add the water chestnuts, soy sauces, Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, sesame oil, sugar, salt, pepper and cornflour and mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and roll each part into a meatball.
Heat a wok until it is hot. Add the stock, turn the heat down to a simmer, add the meatballs and stir slowly. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes, then add the noodles and soy sauce and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Now add the sesame oil and give the soup several good stirs. Ladle the soup into a tureen and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.