Hackney is full of Vietnamese restaurants and after a lovely noodle dish with juicy prawns and hot sweet flavours I asked the owner what was in it. I’m not sure I scribbled it down accurately. But it was something like this recipe. It’s made with thawed raw king prawns from the excellent Iceland, a mix of sweet, salty and hot flavours sir fried with spinach and noodles. Ideally you need some pickled sushi ginger and a splash of mirin (Japanese rice wine) but these are optional. The soy should give enough salty seasoning to the dish but check before serving and add some salt if you wish.
This is a pretty dish where the little speckles of red chilli peek through the creamy white of the noodles, the deep green of the spinach and crunchy pink of the prawns.
2 tablespoons of oil, ideally toasted sesame but any good quality oil is fine
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
Teaspoon of sugar
Tablespoon of mirin (Japanese rice wine – optional) or you could use white wine
I small shallot
1 red chilli hot or mild to taste
6 spring onions
10cm piece of fresh ginger
25g pickled sushi ginger (optional)
2 medium dried egg noodle nests
75g fresh spinach
12 thawed raw shelled king prawns, patted dry
Measure half the oil into a small basin. Add the soy, sugar and mirin to the oil.
Peel and dice the shallot.
Split the chilli and scrape out the seeds. Slice it into wafer thin rounds. Trim the spring onions and split them into matchstick length shards. Peel and grate the ginger. If you have sushi pickled ginger, chop it roughly
Plunge the noodle nests into a pan of boiling water. Let them unfurl and rehydrate until they are tender. Drain and set aside. Wash the spinach and let it wilt in boiling water before draining it, cutting it with kitchen scissors into small chunks and squeezing out as much water as you can.
In a wok, heat the rest of the oil and let the diced shallot soften on a medium heat. Add the thawed prawns and stir fry them until they turn pink. Add the spring onions, chilli and the ginger(s) and stir fry for about a minute more. Add the oil, soy, sugar and mirin mix and let it bubble, stirring vigorously. Add the cooked noodles and the spinach, stir well giving it another minute on the heat, using a spaghetti fork or tongs to mix it thoroughly and serve immediately in warmed deep bowls.