Prep 20 mins
Cook 30 mins
Legend has it that South Lake in Mengzi County, Yunnan Province, China once boasted a great many literary scholars who worked hard to become officials. One of them was a Xiucai (person who passed the imperial examination at the county level in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties) with the last name of Yang. Yang often went to read books at the pavilion located in the middle of the lake. Although his wife would always take him something to eat, Yang was always so deep into his studies that he often forgot to eat. By the time he would remember, the food had already become cold, and thus his health deteriorated. One day, much concerned about her husband, the wife killed a hen, and cooked it in a pottery pot along with some rice noodles. Then, she took the chicken, noodles and soup to her husband. After a while, she came back to clean up. However, what she saw was the food left untouched by her husband who was intently concentrating on his book. With a sigh, she decided to heat it for her husband to eat later, but to her surprise, the pot was still warm when she touched it. Uncovering the pot, she found a layer of chicken fat floating atop the soup, which, together with the pottery container, helped preserve the heat. From then on, she cooked in this way to keep the food warm, and her husband was always able to eat warm food. Later, many people cooked rice noodles in the wife's innovative way, and found them really delicious and fresh.
- 8 dried Chinese black mushrooms
- 9 ounces very fine Chinese egg noodles
- 1 ounce spinach
- 2 ounces boneless chicken breasts
- 2 ounces fish fillets, skinned and deboned
- 2 ounces shrimp or 2 ounces prawns, shelled
- 1⁄4 lb prosciutto ham, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 teaspoon rice wine
- 1⁄8 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
- 1⁄8 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon soy sauce
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chicken fat
- 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes, drain, and set aside.
- Blanch the spinach briefly in boiling water, drain, and set aside. Mix the rice wine, ginger, 1/8 tsp of the salt, and the soy sauce into a marinade. Slice the chicken, fish, prosciutto and prawns paper-thin. Spread out on a serving platter and add the marinade. Let stand.
- Heat a pot of water to boiling and add the noodles. Bring back to a boil and cook uncovered until they are soft, about 4 minutes for dried noodles and 2 minutes for fresh ones. Drain in a colander and lay the spinach on top.
- Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan and add the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, and the chicken fat. Bring to a fast boil for 1 minute. Transfer to a tureen, previously filled with hot water and then drained, and bring to the table with the platter of meats and the colander of noodles.
- Submerge four large ceramic soup bowls in the sink under hot tap water until they are very warm. Place 1/4 of the noodles in each bowl. On top of the noodles, place 1/4 of the fish, shrimp, chicken, spinach, mushrooms and prosciutto. Pour the boiling broth into the bowls and let them sit for 2 minutes. Top each bowl with a little cilantro and serve.