Monday, October 12, 2015

Guilin rice noodles

Today’s dish combines last week’s braised beef shanks with pickles in what has to be one of the most sublime pairings I’ve ever enjoyed. What’s more, the main components of this noodle soup – namely the braised beef and the pickled long beans – can be either store-bought or made at home long in advance, which means that this is a really easy recipe to pull together.

I would, of course, strongly urge you to make both of these yourself. Like I already showed you, these Muslim-style shanks are simply divine and can be cooked with very little effort. The pickled green beans are super easy, too, if you already have a crock filled with the aromatic brine from traditional Sichuan-style pickles that we explored a couple of years ago. This traditional way to ferment pickles has become one of the most popular recipes I’ve ever posted on this blog, and I really urge you to get a crock going in your kitchen ASAP.
After three weeks in a delicious brine

It’s hard to describe just how tasty these beans are, but here goes: While commercial ones may be dully green, soft, and sour, these homemade ones posses a much brighter olive color, are gently crispy, and have a lovely range of flavors hiding inside their skins - juices that squish out onto your tongue with each bite and turn this simple street snack into what might easily become an addiction. Of course, if you don't have a nice bunch of these at the ready, just about any other crunchy green Chinese pickle will do, including the cabbage in that main Sichuan recipe or even Shanghai mustard pickles.

Many classic Guangxi dishes as prepared in the bigger cities and lowlands combine local ingredients with Cantonese techniques, but the cuisine does an about-face as one moves into higher altitudes, for it ends up looking and tasting much more like the cooking of its northwestern neighbor, Guizhou. 

Fresh long beans ready for the crock
This is most likely the one dish that the beautiful city of Guilin is most famous for among the Chinese, and pork is the usual meat component here, but those braised shanks work like a dream, too.

So, if you have the ingredients mentioned here already made, you can have a steaming bowl of noodles in a flash.


Guilin rice noodles
Guìlín mĭfěn 桂林米粉 
Guangxi
Serves 2
Thin slices of braised beef shin

1 pound fresh rice noodles
Boiling water as needed
½ cup (or so) pickled long beans, or other pickled vegetables, chopped and rinsed with boiling water
10 (or so) thin slices braised beef shank, plus some of the braising sauce
Large handful of coarsely chopped cilantro
2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
Finely ground chile peppers, to taste
¼ cup fried soybeans or peanuts

1. Place the rice noodles in a wide colander and separate them as much as possible. Put the colander in the sink and run boiling water over them. Shake the colander to fluff up the noodles, and then divide them between two large soup bowls.

Fresh rice noodles & green onions
2. Arrange the beef slices and pickles on top of the noodles and drizzle in about ¼ cup of the braising liquid. Pour enough boiling water into each bowl so that about an inch of the noodles is peeking out. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide the cilantro and green onions among the bowls, and sprinkle on some ground chili pepper, if you like. Toss and eat.


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