I guess this is a theme dish?
In my defense, I started out with only the most honest culinary intentions. After cooking the chicken liver, sage & rigatoni out of Marc Ventri‘s new cookbook exactly per directions–okay, I subbed pork liver pâté from Krakus Market for the chicken livers, red pepper flakes for the sage and added peas–it occurred to me that I could nudge the technique in the direction of something similar to Han Dynasty‘s dan dan mian. (Oh okay, I was making theme fusion food then. Fuck.)
I have pretty much abandoned the project of perfectly recreating Han’s noodles, but I really like the combination of pork, sesame, Sichuan peppercorns & noodles and will often riff on the dish. Vetri’s technique seemed like a promising new approach, a cool trick to coat the noodles with dan dan goodness. With the idea to make dan dan in my head, I started looking at what I had available in my kitchen.
A friend had given me a package of black rice noodles and I already mentioned the pork liver pâté. I’ve been experimenting with fermenting different stuff lately, so I had a jar of Sichuan chili paste sitting in my refrigerator from a dan dan ramen I made the previous week; using it for pickles, I could offset some of the noodles’ heaviness. I learned while making the ramen that tahini separates under heat, so that could not be an option for including that flavor in the dish. A partial solution was garnishing with toasted white sesame (not uncommon in an Asian dish), but I was looking for something more intense. When I cook other noodle dishes, I’ll usually toss the noodles with oil to prevent them from sticking, so that problem was solved by toasted sesame oil.
After figuring out how to arrive at the flavor I wanted, the stupid idea to do it in Flyers colors struck. Since I was using black noodles, it would be easy enough to shred carrots for the pickles to complete the look. Soy sauce, already in the recipe for flavor, would do double-duty to darken other components to fit the color scheme. (But since the dish is named “Winter Classic Noodle,” shouldn’t the colors of the Flyers’ opponents in that game, the NY Rangers, also be represented? Well… shut up.)
My thinking here might be a little strange, but the flavor & aesthetics of the dish both turned out to be pretty much what I had envisioned.
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