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Recipe: How to Make a Delicious La Pi Salad

A heavenly, yet simple, classic Chinese appetizer

 

At a recent dinner party, one of my guests helped me clear the dishes after the cold appetizers—an assortment of Beijing-style Liang Cai. She wandered half-mesmerized into the kitchen carrying an empty plate. Clinging longingly to the dish, she went on to explain, “If you had served me just this one dish, I would have gone home totally satiated. It was heavenly!” That dish was shredded chicken and la pi salad—the ultimate comfort food and a popular Liang Cai.

 

 

One of the richest aspects of Chinese cuisine is the highly evolved balance between texture and flavour. The magic of this dish lies in the winning combination of both chewy and crunchy textures, smothered in a smooth dressing—a sesame sauce that is at first nutty, then salty, dialed up with a burst of tartness and then rounded out with a touch of sweetness and all the warmth of mustard and fresh garlic.

 

 

The dish hails from Dongbei, whose cooking style has long been embraced by Beijing cuisine. Meaning "pulled skin," la pi is a translucent noodle made from mung bean starch, which imparts a sensually soft, chewy texture. You generally won’t find la pi in the supermarket; the trick is to head for your nearest fresh tofu vendor. With a good-humoured chuckle, you will be presented with a small cellophane pack that at a glance, appears to contain a translucent, gelatinous mass. It is in fact a pack of magical la pi noodles. Fresh, they can be kept for up to seven days in the refrigerator.

 

 

Foreigners often lament that Chinese cooking is complicated and time consuming, but this recipe is anything but. It’s quick and easy, can be prepared ahead and adapted to suit your taste. Use shredded leftover roast chicken or leave it out completely, serving with cucumber and julienned carrots instead. Either way, la pi is truly heavenly!

 

 

Ingredients: Fresh la pi noodles (450g), chicken breast 200g, one tablespoon of sesame oil, cilantro for garnish, two small cucumbers, three cloves of fresh garlic.

 

Sauce: Three tablespoons sesame paste, three tablespoons soya sauce, two tablespoons, prepared mustard, one tablespoon sesame oil, one tablespoon rice vinegar, one teaspoon sugar, and one half teaspoon wasabi.

 

Directions

1. Place chicken breast into a pan of boiling water and poach for ten minutes until cooked through. Remove. Cool. Discard any skin. Shred.

2. Meanwhile, blanch the la pi noodles in another pan of boiling water for two minutes. Separate the noodles. Remove, run under cold water, drain and cool. Mix in one tablespoon of sesame oil and set aside.

3. Finely slice the cucumber. To julienne, cut thin slices diagonally across the cucumber. Then, stacking a few slices together at a time, cut into thin sticks.

4. Peel and finely mince the garlic.

5. To make the sauce, combine the sesame paste, soya sauce, mustard, sesame oil, vinegar and sugar. If you want to kick it up a notch, add the wasabi. Stir into a smooth, pourable sauce, adding water, if necessary.

6. Arrange the la pi noodles on a plate. Arrange the cucumber on top in a circular fashion. Top with shredded chicken and minced garlic.

7. Just before serving, drizzle the sauce on top. Mix, serve and enjoy!

 

 

Recipe by Karin Moorhouse


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