When you buy vegetables in a Hong Kong wet market, a handful of spring onions is often thrown in for free. The onion greens are sprinkled over all sorts of dishes for colour and flavour, but often end up wilting in my fridge before I can use them. Until I discovered this dish, that was – they don’t have time to so much as droop, these days…
This simple noodle dish is a vegetarian riff on a recipe from Fuschia Dunlop’s brilliant book Every Grain of Rice. Spring onions and mushrooms are sizzled in hot oil and tossed through a steaming bowl of noodles. And that’s it, for this is one of those elegant dishes where a handful of flavourings brings a simple meal to life.
For extra umaminess, I’ve used dried shiitake mushrooms, or xiānggū 香菇 (“fragrant mushrooms”) in Chinese. When rehydrated, these little guys manage to combine intense flavour with enough body and texture to hold their own against the spring onions.
I‘ve not actually eaten anything like this in China, but it seems to me like the kind of homestyle cooking you might enjoy at a friend’s house – unfussy and delicious…
Simple Mushroom Noodles
Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes soaking time if using dried mushrooms
Quantity: Serves 1
From the market:
10g dried shiitake mushrooms
Spring onions (2 if they’re large, 4-5 if they’re small)
From the cupboard/supermarket:
65g dried wheat noodles
3tbsp cooking oil
2tbsp light soy sauce
a pinch of sea salt
1. Boil the kettle and sluice some hot water over the mushrooms to rinse them, then leave them to soak in whatever hot water you have left for at least 30 minutes.
2. Drain off the soaking water (though you could keep for stock). Remove any tough portions of mushroom stem and slice the remainder. Cut the spring onions into 3cm lengths, and measure the soy sauce into the bottom of your serving bowl.
3. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the spring onions until they start to smell fragrant, then add the mushrooms and continue to fry until the spring onions are just starting to colour, then remove the pan from the heat.
4. Boil the noodles according to instructions on the packet – skinny ones like those shown about take around 4 minutes. Drain and tip into the serving bowl. Use chopsticks to turn once or twice in the soy sauce, then tip the mushroom-spring onion mix (and all that delicious flavoured oil) over the top. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top and enjoy…
- Apologies for salt snobbery here, but Maldon Sea Salt really is the bee’s knees for this kind of thing, though any other type of flaky sea salt would probably work fine too. If you only have table salt to hand, I’d skip the last step and settle for adding more light soy sauce instead.
- Serve with a dish of leafy green vegetables stir-fried with garlic and ginger, last week’s golden stir-fried pumpkin, or hutong-style (with a big chunk of cucumber to crunch on) for a quick and tasty lunch.