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Mama-Yoyo's Scallop Noodles with Oyster Sauce (and Wild Garlic)

Updated: Apr 6

"The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love for those you are cooking for."

Sophia Loren



This dish is very much in the spirit, rather than the letter, of the recipes of the mother of my brother's girlfriend. From Hong Kong, her mum is an accomplished home cook and her recipes are proudly home-style. Indeed, learning how she cooks, it has been a real eye-opener into how simple and fuss-free Asian cooking can be with fabulous results. In many ways this shouldn't come as a great surprise - at least not to someone who speaks ad nauseum about how so often the simplest dishes are among the best of what the cuisines of so many cultures have to offer.


Though from Hong Kong, Mama-Yoyo is a real fan of cooking with Korean and Japanese ingredients, or of cooking according to the styles of those countries. They tell me that Hong Kong has long imported foods into their country and the population, embracing much Western cultural attitude, readily enjoys the variety of food brought in from other nations.

Notwithstanding, this recipe, I am convinced, is very much the type of dish that might be served in a Cantonese home.


I have intentionally enclosed the 'wild garlic' part in brackets, because this is just my seasonal little touch. I'm confident in saying that wild garlic does not feature in Asian cuisine but as an almost obsessive wild-garlic-lover I find myself devoting a great deal of focus, during it's season, on finding creative ways to put it to use and, given that the flavour of garlic and the texture of wilted greens are prevalent in Asian cuisine, how can wild garlic not fit? And I always think the (edible) flowers make a very attractive decoration. Out of season I would just substitute the leaves of pak choi, choi sum or similar Asian greens, or indeed the leaves of chard or spring greens, which I often cook the way I might pak choi. Mama-Yoyo also suggests sliced peppers would work well in this dish and who am I to argue?


Scallops are common in Asian cuisine, and can hold their own alongside strong flavours. Almost this time last year I posted a punchy "Scallop Stir-Fry" which, coincidentally, had been inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine who is also from Hong Kong.


Mama-Yoyo's scallop noodles can be enjoyed with a side of Chinese broccoli if you can find it but tenderstem broccoli, pak choi or other such greens are fantastic too.

As with all stir-fries the cooking time of this dish is very, and necessarily, short. There is just a little marination time at the beginning which, conveniently, can be used to cook the noodles if using the dried variety and get the veg for any side-dishes on the boil or in the steamer. On the subject of the noodles, fresh (ready-cooked) noodles are recommended if possible and, conveniently, these are widely available in larger supermarkets.


It's important that any green leaves going into this dish are soft and prone to wilt quickly. This is naturally the case with wild garlic leaves but thicker stalks of other greens should be cut away and used for another dish.


I find white pepper is more appropriate for seasoning Asian dishes, but ground black pepper will work fine. It is unlikely that any more salt should be required in the final seasoning, but for a more salty end result, soy sauce would be my preferred choice.




Mama-Yoyo's Scallop Noodles with Oyster Sauce (and Wild Garlic)



Ingredients (Serves 2)

12 scallops, white muscles and orange corals separated, or just use the white muscles

1 clove of garlic, crushed

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 nests of egg noodles, any thickness (if dried, these should be approximately 60g each)

3 tbsp oyster sauce

½ tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp water

Wild garlic or other soft green leaves (pak choi, choi sum, chard etc. - see recipe intro)

1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

3-4 spring onions, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal, green and white parts separated

1 or 2 mild red chillies (deseeded if preferred), thinly sliced

Ground white (or black) pepper, to taste



Method

  1. Slice the white muscles of the scallops in half to create two discs from each. Put these in a bowl with the orange corals (if using), rub with the crushed garlic and grated ginger and coat with the sesame oil. Leave to marinate for 10 mins or so.

  2. Meanwhile, if using dried noodles, cook them in boiling water for 1 min less than in the packet instructions. Drain, run cold water over them to arrest the cooking, drain again well and spread out on a plate to continue cooling and drying.

  3. For the sauce mixture, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce and water in a small bowl or jug.

  4. Shred the wild garlic or other green leaves into 1cm wide strips.

  5. Heat a wok and, when medium-hot, tip in the scallop pieces and their marinade and stir-fry quickly, for no more than 1 min, taking care that the heat is not so intense that the garlic burns. Remove from the pan and keep aside.

  6. Heat the sunflower or vegetable oil in the wok over a medium-high heat then add the white parts of the spring onion along with two-thirds of the red chilli. Fry briefly then pour in the sauce mixture, let bubble then stir in the prepared noodles. Cook for about 1 minute then add the fried scallop pieces and the shredded greens. Stir for a further 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning then divide between two bowls and garnish with the green of spring onion and remaining red chilli slices. Serve straightaway with your choice of accompanying vegetables.


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