It’s been a week of downs and ups since I last posted. The downs consisted of me being glutenated in rather strange circumstances which I’m still investigating. The suspected culprit is currently the food additive maltodextrin which was in a fruit bar masquerading as a gluten-free product. I’m still doing my research on the topic and I’ll do another post when I’m a bit clearer but I’d be interested to know if anyone else has had either a confirmed or suspected adverse reaction to maltodextrin.

Anyway, on to the ups. My very first guest blog post at LiveGlutenFree went  live on Monday morning (April 30th). It was so exciting to see my recipe published on another site and to get so much positive feedback from Twitter and from visitors to the blog itself. If you haven’t discovered LiveGlutenFree yet, you should go and check them out. They have gluten-free recipes, information about gluten-free-friendly restaurants, advice for coeliacs, guest blogs (mine included!) and much more. Last month’s recipe was Millionaire’s Cheesecake with Fresh Raspberries, inspired by a packet of gluten-free caramel slices kindly brought round to our house by a visitor.

If the look of it has tantalised your tastebuds, do click on the link and have a gander at the recipe. I’m now busily thinking up what this month’s recipe is going to be!

But enough of the self-promotion 😉 … on to this week’s recipe!! Everyone’s got a wok, right? Um, no. I DID have one once. A beautiful, brand-spanking-new non-stick one that my Mum and Dad gave me for Christmas. I brought it home full of big ideas about all the sumptuous Chinese banquets I would cook. I in fact used it just the once to make a stir-fry. My flatmate (strange girl) decided to do the washing-up. I looked over her shoulder to see her SCOURING it with a BRILLO PAD. RIP beautiful new wok. I haven’t had one since. If I ever fancied Chinese food, I’d just go to the takeaway…then gluten decided that it hated me and that particular avenue of gastronomic pleasure was shut off. I’ve never been to a Chinese takeaway since to attempt to order anything gluten-free. I just think that there’s probably too much rogue soy sauce splashing about to be worth the risk but I’d be really interested to know if anyone else has tried it.

If I want anything vaguely ‘Chinese-style’, I have to cook it at home now with gluten-free tamari. My egg noodle recipe is a variation on my pasta recipe – after all, you can’t really get as much as a cigarette paper between the difference. I did, in my research, however, discover that Chinese egg noodles are chewier than Italian pasta because alkaline, or lye, water (which is sodium carbonate and NOT to be confused with sodium BIcarbonate) is added. This, however, can be toxic if you don’t know what you’re doing. Nice… So I’ve made my noodles chewier by increasing the starch-to-flour ratio and adding a smidgen more xanthan gum. Seemed to work!


Chicken chow mein with gluten-free egg noodles

Serves 3

150g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
30g cornflour (cornstarch)
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 eggs
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seed oil
cold water
toasted sesame seed oil to drizzle on cooked noodles

250-300g chicken fillet (breast or leg), skinned, deboned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tbsp gluten-free tamari
2 tbsp oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1-2 medium red chillis, chopped OR 1-2 tsp Very Lazy Chilli (optional)
1 onion, peeled, quartered then quartered again (I find it easier to leave the root attached until I’ve finished slicing and then remove it at the end)
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
150g mushrooms (field or shiitake), thinly sliced
200g beansprouts
1-2 tbsp gluten-free tamari
1-2 tbsp water

You will also need a pasta rolling machine with a spaghetti attachment (mine came from Lakeland) and a wok or large non-stick frying pan (don’t use non-non-stick because the cornflour-coated chicken WILL stick to the bottom and burn).

First of all, place the chicken in either a Ziploc bag or a plastic container with a lid, along with the Chinese 5-spice and tamari, seal and shake so that all pieces are coated. Leave to marinate.

Then, make the noodles. Cut a strip of greaseproof baking paper about 30cm long and wide enough to fit underneath the rolling machine. You will need this when cutting the noodle dough with the spaghetti attachment.

Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Blitz for a couple of seconds to mix the flours and break up any lumps. Add the two eggs and both oils. Blitz again to combine and gradually add a little cold water through the funnel until you have a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and knead into a ball. It should be soft and sticky and feel quite light and pliable*. Now either wrap the ball in clingfilm or return it to the bowl of the food processor and put the lid back on to keep the noodle dough from drying out.

Place a large plate dusted with flour next to the rolling machine. Working with a tomato-sized piece at a time, roll the dough out on an unfloured surface with a rolling pin until it is a few millimetres thick. Try to get either the width or the length approximately the same width as the pasta rolling machine. Pass the dough just once through thickness setting 3**. Make sure you carefully support its weight with your free hand. Dust each side of the sheet of dough with flour*** and make sure that the greaseproof paper is in place underneath before putting it through the spaghetti attachment. Slide the greaseproof paper out from under the machine and tip the noodles onto a plate. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Put a large pan of lightly-salted water on to heat. When the water has reached a rolling boil, add a handful of the noodles****. The noodles will float to the top almost immediately and the water should very quickly return to the boil. Allow the noodles to bob about on the surface for about 30 seconds and then start scooping them out into a bowl (I use a spaghetti spoon – I think they might also be called kitchen spiders – over a wad of kitchen roll so that they drain properly). Add a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil and toss through so that they don’t stick. Continue cooking the rest of the noodles in batches and dress with oil. Cover and set aside to cool until ready to cook the rest of the chow mein.

When you’re ready to cook the chow mein, add the cornflour to the marinated chicken and stir until all the pieces are coated. Heat the oil in either a wok or a large, non-stick frying pan (skillet). When the oil is very hot, add the garlic, ginger and chilli (if using). Stir quickly to avoid burning for about 30 seconds and then add the chicken. Brown the chicken for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Next add the onion and red pepper and continue to stir for another couple of minutes. Then add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another minute. Next, add the tamari and a couple of tablespoons of water to form a sauce and stir for another minute. Then finally add the beansprouts and noodles. Cook for another minute or so until the beansprouts have started to wilt slightly and the noodles are heated through. Serve with extra tamari for drizzling.

* If the dough is sticking, flour the work surface and knead the ball of dough. Then break the ball up and return it to the flood processor. Blitz into small piece to distribute the flour more evenly, tip back onto the surface and knead into a ball. Likewise, if the dough is too hard and dry, break the ball up and return it to the food processor. Blitz into small pieces and add a little more water. Once it has come together again, tip back out onto the work surface.

** The sheet will have slightly raggedy edges and may have a few holes. This is to be expected and it won’t be noticeable when cut into noodles. If the dough disintegrates as it goes through the rollers, it is probably too dry. See *

*** This is really important because it will stop the noodles from sticking and clumping together.

**** I cook the noodles in small batches – this allows the water to quickly come back up to the boil and avoids the noodles becoming overcooked.

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