I saw the legendary Ken Hom cook this on Saturday Kitchen a few weeks ago, which at last gave me a reason to use the shrimp paste that’s been hanging around my cupboard – literally like a bad smell – for several months.
For those unfamiliar, shrimp paste is widely used in Thai cooking and the smell is atrocious – think local council tip on a hot August afternoon. But once cooked, it gives dishes a savouriness that is quite unique – and delicious.
I have never seen this on an Oriental menu, but it is quite possibly the most wonderful Chinese dish I’ve ever tasted. I’ve modified Mr Hom’s recipe slightly by replacing his pickled Chinese cabbage with sugar snap peas, in the noodles, and adding a little more peanut butter. For convenience, I’ve also used chicken breasts rather than joint and skin a whole chicken.
For the marinade
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 tbsp shrimp paste
1 tbsp Shaoxing Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp ginger juice (squeezed from 2 cm grated ginger)
2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp sesame oil 50g plain flour
For the noodles
Medium egg-noodles (according to appetite)
12 sugar snap peas, cut on the diagonal
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp chilli bean sauce
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter or sesame paste
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar 300ml chicken stock
1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and add the chicken. Put aside for at least 30 mins or overnight in the fridge to let the flavours develop.
2. In a small saucepan, combine all the ingredients for the noodle sauce, including the peas. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 4-5 mins until the sauce is thick and gloopy.
3. Dredge the chicken in the flour until it is completely coated. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok until it is almost smoking hot. Cook the chicken for 4-5 mins until it is golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to packet instructions, approx. 3-4 mins. Combine the noodles with the sauce.
5. Serve by arranging the chicken around and on top of the noodles.