Mock Vegetable Pasta

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In Chinese vegetarian cookery, a dish is not always what it appears to be. For example, ‘mock duck’ is taro root stuffed with minced vegetables and fried to a golden brown to look like duck. I enjoy the fun and imaginativeness of such creativity and here I take courgettes and cut them into long thin strips to look like pasta. I then salt them to remove excess moisture and, in the process, firm their texture. Quickly stir-fried with traditional Chinese seasonings, the resulting dish looks and tastes like pasta — my guests are always surprised by its lightness, flavour and texture. Do not overcook the courgettes -they should have a firmness to the bite. This mock pasta is delicious cold, and it can also function as a vegetable or salad serving: it is perfect for picnics too.

Ingredients

  • 900 g (2 lb) courgettes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil, preferably groundnut
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions, green parts only

Method

Cut the courgettes into long thin strips resembling pasta. Put the strips into a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Leave to stand for 20 minutes. Then wrap the courgettes in a linen tea towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over moderate heat and add the oil. Put in the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the courgettes, fresh coriander and spring onions and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes or until the courgettes are heated through. Turn the mixture onto a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

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