A Visit to the South of France
Also, a great new vinegar. And a much-requested recipe.
France has been on my mind. The novel I’m working on is set in Paris and in my imagination I’ve been walking the streets, breathing the air, eating the food. My heroine also makes occasional trips south to visit a friend who lives in one of the world’s most beautiful places. It’s just a fantasy of course, but it made me think about Pat Wells, who moved to France and turned that dream into a reality.
Last week’s conversation about vinegar was so filled with so many great suggestions that I instantly expanded my vinegar wardrobe. One I couldn’t resist was Keepwell’s Celery Leaf vinegar, which was suggested by a few different people.
I understand why. Although I ordered a number of different Keepwell vinegars (I’m extremely fond of the apricot version), it’s the celery leaf I find myself reaching for most often. It has a sprightly lightness that adds a very nice note to soups and salads.
When I posted this picture on Instagram last week, so many people clamored for the recipe that I decided to share it here on La Briffe.
It isn’t perfect… but I’ve been trying to produce a home version of Dan Dan noodles, and I’ve never gotten this close before. This version is adapted from six different recipes, and it’ made me very happy.
(You can find all the arcane ingredients: yai cai, Chinese black vinegar and Chinese sesame paste at The MaLa Market.)
Dan Dan Noodles For Two
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 small cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons chili crisp
Mix together and set aside.
1/4 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon roasted rape seed oil
1 tablespoon Ya Cai, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon dried chile flakes
But the meat in a bowl, add soy sauce and Shaoxing and mix well.
Heat oil in a wok. Add the meat mixture, yai cai, ginger and chile flakes. Stir fry until it has all become fragrant, brown and crumbly.
Cook two portions of good Asian noodles according to package directions: I use Sun Noodles, the only ones I’ve found in the market that have the springy bounciness I crave.
During the last minute of cooking throw in a robust handful of spinach. Drain well and rinse. Toss the noodles with the sauce and meat topping. If you like, add fried peanuts, chopped scallions and more chili crisp.