Well... They were supposed to be hand-rolled noodles. You see, I went to Mama Wang's supperclub at The Dead Dolls Club and I was totally taken by their biang biang noodles, served with cumin-braised lamb (photo below). The noodles were chewy and rough around the edges, made by rolling long sausages of dough and slapped on a work surface to get a flat shape out of them. When I came to do some slapping of my own though, my heavy-handedness and eagerness to eat them shone through and they slapped straight out of my hands and into pieces.
I improvised. In absence of a rolling pin, I rolled the dough out with a mezcal bottle, smirking at the indentations the bottle gave it. Still too thick and quickly losing patience, I eventually put the dough through a pasta machine to give it a more uniform thickness. Perhaps not entirely traditional, but it worked well enough and I was left with sheets of noodles, ready to cook. It wasn't until after I ate them that I remembered that I'd made noodles before, and a recipe much closer to the one I was trying to achieve was here.
Still, the noodles made a damn fine change to rice, which I normally eat with this red-braised beef. Probably more suited to Winter climes, it's rich and comforting, spicy from the Sichuan chilli bean paste. Any cut of beef suited to slow cooking works here, though I find cuts like shin and ox cheek preferable to give some gelatin to the dish. Pork works perfectly well in place of the beef; a cut like belly would take it to ultimate decadence.
Serves 4 with sides and rice / noodles
450gr beef for slow cooking, cut into bitesized pieces
20gr ginger, whole and skin still on, whacked with the side of a knife
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
2 tbsp chilli bean paste
1 tbsp yellow bean paste
1 star anise
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 spring onions, white only (reserve the green bits)
500ml stock / water
Blanch the beef in boiling water then rinse and rinse the pot out. This is to get rid of the scum that clouds the broth. Place the beef in a claypot or a snug saucepan.
In a wok, heat up a little oil and stir fry the chilli bean paste with the ginger and garlic and the spring onion. Add the yellow bean paste, rice wine, then add the star anise and the stock / water. Bring to the boil and add to the beef. Put a lid on it and braise very slowly for 3 - 4 hours, until the beef is tender. Top up with a little water (or the stock if it didn't all fit) if it is looking dry.
Serve garnished with the spring onion greens leftover, on rice or on noodles.