Sichuan/Chongqing Little Slurp w meat sauce and chickpeas

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COULD THIS WORK?

THAT WOULD BE YOUR LAST THOUGHT, BEFORE THIS BOWL OF MAGIC POTION SUCKS YOU INTO AN UNSTOPPABLE WHIRLPOOL OF HAPPINESS.

Sorry I have been absent.

Boy, do I have a good reason.

Recently, I believe, we’ve all been experiencing a kind of peculiar surrealism in life.  I don’t know about you, but for multiples times during the span of my day, I found myself staring at the mundane occurrences of my perceived reality – the sound of cars brushing through the street… radios in the background… my farts – like Neo, wondering if this was all just an elaborate Matrix.  Am I going to be unplugged and wake up?  Or am I trapped here forever?  For one, Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States.  And for two, which is completely unrelated and sinks even deeper on a much more personal level, my body and wellness has taken an unexpected turn to a place where my mind is scrambling to cope.

Actually, unexpected may sound understated.  Unfathomable, comes to mind.

I was diagnosed with a “condition” so to speak.  I want to share everything with you.  But the trouble is, I don’t know everything yet.  Something along the line of cicatricial alopecia, but let me urge you to think twice before Googling it, and the truth is, there are still a lot more to find out before arriving at a conclusion, so there’s nothing too informative I could tell you at this point.  It may come across as unnecessary and self-absorbed to talk about something without any provided informations, I get that, but I simply lack the talent to conduct business as usual, to roast a turkey, to make a pie, when my mind is in disarray.  In two weeks time, I hope, I will be able to tell you everything.  But before you frantically light up a cigarette, let’s just find comfort in the fact that it isn’t life-threatening, I hope, but let’s face it, not much more fantastic than that.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, something very fantastic.

This is a recipe that I have been developing for awhile.  In Chinese, it is called wan-za-mian, meaning peas mixed noodles.  It was one of my most missed and pondered upon, single food item that I’ve tasted in Beijing, even though it originates from Chongqing (a city next to Sichuan).  It may look alarmingly laborious, that a bowl of noodle consists of 3~4 components, but oh gosh, nothing is more worthy of your time.  The amount of liquid in proportion to noodles lurks in between two categories, too little to be called a “soup” but a bit more than just “sauce”, and therefore may I say, just perfect.  It comes waddling towards your table in seemingly distinctive parts: the noodles half-submerged in soup, the soft and mushy stewed peas (which I’ve substituted with chickpeas) on top, the dark brown minced pork sauce made with sweet and spicy chili bean paste, and everything, I mean everything, glossed and covered under a layer of flaming rouge chili oil.  Could this work?  That would your very last thought before this mixture, under your anxious chopsticks, churns and folds into a spicy, oily, savory and deeply complex bowl of magic potion that sucks you, and your thoughts, into an unstoppable whirlpool of happiness.

Believe me.  I felt like shit, and this thing still made me happy.  Imagine what it could do to you.

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Sichuan/Chongqing Little Slurp w meat sauce and chickpeas

Serving Size: 3~4

Ingredients

    MEAT SAUCE:
  • 1 tbsp (14 grams) lard, or chicken fat, or fine, canola oil
  • 250 grams ground pork (30 % fat)
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp (70 grams) tian-mian-jiang/sweet bean paste
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (63 grams) dou-ban-jiang/chili bean paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 small Asian shallots, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup (90 grams) shoaxing wine, or rice wine
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock or water, divided into 3 portions
  • STEWED CHICKPEAS:
  • 1 can (400 grams) chickpeas
  • 4 cups (1000 grams/ml) chicken stock
  • 3 slices ginger
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • TO ASSEMBLE: (for a SINGLE PORTION)
  • 1 portion (100 grams) of ramen noodle
  • 3/4 cup stewed chickpea broth
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame paste, or tahini
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 grated garlic]
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp meat sauce
  • 2~3 tbsp Xi’an chili oil
  • Finely diced scallions

Instructions

  1. MAKE MEAT SAUCE: In a non-stick pot, heat the lard over medium-high heat, then add the ground pork. Stir and cook until the pork is broken down, then add the flour and cook until evenly browned. Add the tian-mian-jiang, doubanjiang, minced garlic, minced shallot, shoaxing wine, brown sugar and white pepper, and stir/cook for 5 min until the moisture has mostly evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of water or unsalted chicken stock, mix well, then once the mixture has come to a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Continue to cook, stirring every 5 min, until the moisture has reduced down to a thick ragu consistency. Now add another 1/2 cup of water and reduce again (almost like cooking risotto). Once you’ve added the last 1/2 cup of water, and the mixture is reduced down into a thick ragu for the third time, it’s done. Set aside. Can be made ahead of time and kept in air-tight container in the fridge.
  2. MAKE CHICKPEA: Drain the chickpeas of any water from the can. You can peel the chickpeas for an extra smooth consistency but it’s optional. Now bring the chickpeas, chicken stock, ginger, star anise and ground cumin to a simmer, and cook for about 30 min until the chickpeas are very soft. Set aside. Can be made ahead of time.
  3. TO ASSEMBLE (for a single portion): Reheat meat sauce and stewed chickpeas if needed. Mix the chickpea broth (without chickpeas), sesame paste, soy sauce, grated garlic, sugar and rice vinegar in a large bowl (this is the base sauce). Cook the ramen noodles according to package instructions, then drain well and transfer into the bowl. Top with chickpeas, about 3 tbsp of meat sauce, 2~3 tbsp of xi’an chili oil and diced scallions. Mix then slurp.

Notes

I want to tell you that you could substitute tian-mian-jiang (sweet bean paste) with the more commonly seen hoisin sauce, and dou-ban-jiang (fermented chili bean paste) with the more familiar Korean gochujang. But the matter of the fact is, they are VERY DIFFERENT things in the flavor profile. I tested one batch with the substitution, and the result is much sweeter and less exciting. I had to adjust a lot with extra dark soy sauce, salt and mushroom powder (it's still quite good but just different). So I would urge you not to substitute these two ingredients (which are very available online).

http://ladyandpups.com/2016/11/22/sichuanchongqing-little-slurp-w-meat-sauce-and-chickpeas/

29 Comments

  • Almost all my favorite food blogs that I follow have a post this week apologizing for their absence. It’s been a trying few weeks and I don’t see it getting any better in the next four years. This is a fantastic post, and as always, I look forward to them for inspiration!

  • Sorry to hear Mandy. We miss you! Get well soon- at least physically. I think the prognosis for this type of depression though is at least 4 years unfortunately. Thank you for posting anyway and making it something with doubanjiang and chili oil- my drugs of choice these days.

  • It’s a hard time, and you’re not alone with Trump inspired malaise. With your personal struggles- fighting! Focus on what’s healthy & brings you cheer in the short term, take good care of yourself.
    Thanks for this recipe & all you do- I’ll search out the proper pastes :)

  • I send good thoughts concerning your health issue…
    Actually, 4 years of a different governing practice/vibe just might bode well for our country on the whole… I truly don’t believe that the sky is actually falling…* :O)

    As to the recipe…. It sounds delightful and I’m certain that it reads more difficult than it probably will be to put it on the table… Thank you for sharing…

    *and no, I didn’t vote for Trump

  • Dear Mandy, this is the first time I comment even though I follow your blog very closely, because its an infinte source of inspiration but mostly because I love the way you write, no frills you just slap it in our face, like you did today, and that takes courage, in these times were everything is so politically correct and every word is disected and commented on. Reading you today my heart skipped a bit and I held my breath, at the words not life threatening I breathed, but still…. Dont know how much a comment from a stranger can do,but I just felt I had to write and whish you strength and courage, please keep us updated. Will cook this next week, take care!

  • Mandy, thank you for sharing with us.
    I love your inspirational posts and can’t imagine what you are going through.
    Alopecia would knock the socks of any person, let alone your sort.
    Be kind and gentle to yourself and I will miss your regular posts but will rejoice (like I did this morning) when one arrives.
    Cheers, janet

  • I hope you feel better soon and I hope you find peace with your condition, or at least a begrudging truce. While you may not feel like cooking or experimenting you really should keep writing, you have a great way of looking at the world and I can imagine no better way to vent frustration with Trump and with your health.

    -Best from a San Diego transplant in Dallas

  • Sending you so many good thoughts & well wishes, Mandy. Your posts and recipes have helped carry me through years of my own personal struggles (and withdrawals from missing authentic Taiwanese & Chinese foods!) so thank you for sharing all that you do. I wish that you may find clarity amidst this new challenge in your life. <3

  • Mandy, Mandy, Mandy,….. I hope this finds you as well as can be and hopefully coping with what life slings at you. But that is easy to say by me. You have to go through it. And that is not easy. You know we all wish you well. I wish you strength and the power to face life’s challenges.

    And thank you for this warming noodle dish!!

  • Dear Mandy, my thoughts will be with you and I truly wish you lots of courage, positivity and energy with your treatment. It sometimes sucks but don’t forget to keep your chin up and, if you need to, swear aloud and as much as you want, but then make sure it does not consume you. You are not any latin name “condition”, you are Mandy and we love you, the beautiful and creative person that enriches our lives and shows us how to enjoy food i.e. life no matter what.

  • Whoa Soup slurping sister… you needed to write the line about “but let me urge you to think twice before Googling it” because I had already… keep on cooking- Buckle up & Chin up – You lovely lady are going to be fine!

  • Well. That sucks. I’m sorry. Always appreciate your candid posts and fail-proof recipes, however frequent (or not).

    When I went to Beijing last year I emailed you for some restaurant tips and I went to a little noodle place on that list that served a pretty awesome version of wan-za-mian, so thanks for some solid recs and my introduction to this dish !

  • Mandy I hope you get some answers soon. Sometimes just having an answer is relief enough. I spent 18 months doctor hopping and although I didn’t get the answer I wanted, at least I knew what was wrong.

    I made this last night and like all of your recipes it was a winner. The only thing I did different was use the Lao Gan Ma’s chili mixture instead of the chili oil. Since it’s not an oil, I used a lot less. I halved the meat mixture and it still made about 3 bowls. I’m eating the rest of it this morning with spaghetti noodles since I used all the ramen up last night. Looking forward to making this again.

    Wishing you all the best

  • Your blog is the sunshine in my life. I wish I could do the same for you as what you do for me. Good luck and food (esp the hot stuff) will hopefully heal.

  • just want u to know that you are an inspiration to all my home cooking and i absolutely adore your very authentic recipes! full of the x factor ! your blog is my getaway place .. thank u so much for being all that u are ! there is good to be found in all situations and am really praying and hoping that u will be able to focus your mind on the positive side of things! stay strong !!!

  • I was hoping that your absence meant a manuscrpt to submit, I am SO sorry that I was wrong. Sending you all my positive vibes for your condition, hope you’ll be better soon ☺
    for the other thing… well, I’m Italian… that’s EXACTLY how I felt more than once in the past years. I know that feeling. Don’t be too depressed, not worth it.
    hugs!!

  • WOW! I actually first tasted this dish in Paris (i know, wtf?!?!?) and went bananas for it (in a place called dnoodles that only has 3 things on the menu. their IG username is dnoodlesparis). It looked kind of meh at first, but then after mixing the noodles with the sauce from the bottom, it was a revelation. So porky. So Fatty. It was like slurping pure crack. You are like a mind-reader!

    Hope you get and feel better soon! I might be wrong, but i think Dana from Minimalist Baker mentioned a similar health issue in her podcast interview with Jess Lively (mentioned on her recent Best of April post), which was very inspiring (i listen to podcasts while doing dishes) XO

  • Mandy, so sorry to hear about your current health troubles. Whatever this “condition” turns out to be, I hope to will stay positive and be able to continue living a good life. Keep us posted! In the meantime, sending you love from NYC :)

  • Mandy I also suffer from premature alopecia. It sucks balls. I cannot say I can relate what you are going through 100%, but I can imagine the frustration. Anyway, I wish you strength and courage. <3

  • Hi Mandy! I always look forward to your posts and this one felt really close to home for me. It’s difficult struggling with health issues and I appreciate your candor. I hope you keep finding the strength to move through this… your spunky posts are always so inspiring!

  • Out.stan.ding. I’ve been collecting ingredients all week dreaming about maing this and finally made it tonight, following almost everything to the letter (only a smidge less sugar and a mix of pork & lean beef). The two of us licked our very large bowls clean. What a fantastic mix of flavours and so so satisfying textures. Thank you!

    I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis and wish you well.

  • Hi Mandy! I’m sorry you’ve been going through a rough patch and I truly hope and will lift up a prayer that every bit of obscurity with your illness will come to light–hang in there, girl! And how’d you know I was about to google that word? As always this looks like such a fantastic recipe and I can’t wait to try it when I (somehow someway) find the time. I’m a huge fan of not-really-soup but not-really-sauce consistency, yum! God bless you and take your time because we’re still here just patiently waiting <3

  • Hi Mandy

    Thanks for sharing!, Your an inspiration, I like your healthy recipe post and I will definitely try this one. Your strong and I know that you will get better soon! Hoping for a positive response from your doctors and for your return. I just want to ask about the cost of the ingredients?

  • FYI, your site is the only one that’s managed to make me feel better about stuff in the last few weeks. Between your earnestness and candidness and other various ‘ness-es, it was a much-needed relief – thank you.

    So sorry about the health bummers! The human body may be a miracle of cellular cooperation or whatever, but it’s bothersome as f&ck when some bits go rogue. I hope your body gets those jerk cells in line pronto :)

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