You might think that a recipe featuring home-made noodles would be fiddly but the noodles in this delicious vegetable soup are really straightforward and easy to make. They are served in a nourishing soup of vegetables and broth flavoured with Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, soy sauce and Chinkiang black vinegar.
Serve with sepen (hot chilli dip) plus additional soy sauce and Chinkiang black vinegar on the table, so that everyone can adjust to their own taste.
Find out more about this beautiful book in my full review of Taste Tibet by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa.
Tibetan Vegetable Thukpa (Noodle Soup)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 400 g (14 oz) pak choi, washed and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, plus extra to serve
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang black vinegar, plus extra to serve
- ½ teaspoon crushed Sichuan peppercorns (yerma)
- 3 spring onions (scallions), washed and thinly sliced
- Taste Tibet sepen (see link above), to serve – optional
For the noodles
- 500 g (3½ cups) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3 large free-range eggs
For the noodles, put the flour into a mixing bowl and crack in the eggs. Mix the eggs through the flour with your dominant hand, while slowly pouring in about 100 ml (3½ fl oz) of warm water with the other – depending on the flour you are using, you may need to add slightly more water. Work the dough into a ball in the bowl, then cover and set aside for about 15 minutes.
Take out the dough and knead it for a minute or so until smooth, then divide it into four roughly equal pieces. Return three of the pieces to the mixing bowl and cover again.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the first piece of dough on a flour-dusted work surface. Press down hard, turning it around and around and over and over until you have a large, roughly circular sheet of dough about 2–3 mm (⅛ inch) thick. Finally, sprinkle a little more flour onto the dough and, starting from one side, roll the sheet of dough up and over the rolling pin, wrapping it around several times until you reach the other side.
Now slide out the rolling pin to leave behind a hollow cylinder of dough. Using a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into slices on the diagonal. The width of the slices will determine the thickness of your noodles – it’s good to aim for a chopstick’s width.
When you are done, sprinkle a little more flour over the noodles. Using both hands, lift them and dance them about in the flour until all of them are coated and you can prise them apart. Place in a mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
To cook the noodles, bring 2.5 litres (10 cups) of water to the boil in a large saucepan. When the water is boiling, add a teaspoon of salt and half the noodles. Stir the noodles very gently, ideally using chopsticks, then add the rest of the noodles and give them a very gentle stir too – you don’t want to break them in the process. Leave them to boil for about 5 minutes, then taste one to see if they are cooked. When the noodles are done, turn off the heat, but do not drain them.
Meanwhile, heat a wok over a high heat. Add the oil, and when it’s hot, turn the heat down to low-medium and add the garlic. It should take less than a minute for this to turn golden brown, at which point add the pak choi and stir-fry briskly for about a minute. Now add the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and a teaspoon of salt and keep stirring for a further 1–2 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and reduced, releasing their juices in the pan.
Carefully tip the contents of the wok into the pan of noodles, rinsing out the last of the veg in the wok using some of the water from the noodles. Gently stir everything together, then serve in large bowls and garnish with the spring onions. Add some sepen if you want a chilli kick, and a dash of extra soy sauce or vinegar to taste.
Serve with a small bowl of pickled mooli on the side, if you have some in the fridge.
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Kavey Eats received a review copy of Taste Tibet: Family Recipes from the Himalayas by Julie Kleeman and Yeshi Jampa from publisher Murdoch Books. Book food photography by Ola O. Smit; Book travel photography by Keiko Wong.