In Pakistan ‘noodles’ are almost synonymous with Chinese food…ChowMein, Chop Suey and noodle soups being as popular as the local cuisine. The history of Chinese food in Pakistan goes back more than half a century, therefore a variety of Chinese noodles and sauces are readily available not only in big shopping malls but even at small, neighbourhood grocery stores.

Like the Cantonese cuisine, Pakistani -Chinese food is mostly chicken stock based and uses seasonings like soya sauce, hot sauce, oyster sauce and vinegar quite generously.

In Pakistani restaurants all Chinese soups are served with fish crackers on the side. The condiments are red chilli sauce, soy sauce and sliced green chilli peppers soaked in vinegar. Heat from the chillies is not added to the soup while cooking as these Chinese soups are very popular with families and specially kids. One can adjust salty, sour and hot,using the condiments on the table, to suit personal taste.

I’ve used rice noodles for this recipe but egg noodles, wheat noodles or even spaghetti can also be used, depending on the availability…just cook them according to the instruction on the packet. Another adaptation we do to Chinese recipes is that we replace bok choi with local variety of cabbage as the former is not easily available in Pakistan.

* slightly under-cook noodles if they are to be added to stir fries and soups. If they are perfectly cooked to start with, they will turn mushy in the soup or stir fry.
* the taste of soup depends a lot on the taste of stock. Make rich, flavourful stock for a tasty soup.

For Prawn Noodle Soup :

6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons ginger, julienned
16 king prawns, peeled (raw)
1 red chilli pepper, chopped
2 stalks spring onion, chopped
Few leaves bok choi/ Chinese cabbage/cabbage, torn by hand
Half packet rice noodles/egg noodles, 200 g
4 tablespoon lemon juice

This Is What You Do :
Place rice noodles in a deep bowl, pour boiling water over them till they are completely submerged. Stir them a little every 2-3 minutes to loosen them. Take them out of water after 7-8 minute, when they are still slightly under-cooked. Rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.
Heat chicken stock in a deep pan or large wok. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Add prawns and simmer for 2 minutes . Add noodles and cabbage leaves, simmer a minute. The prawns should turn pink as soon as they are done, 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat, add lemon juice. Ladle the soup immediately into soup bowls, garnish with ginger, spring onions and red chilli pepper.
Serves 4

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