How amazing to begin again. A clean plate with new possibilities and flavors after taking our last swallows of holiday cookies and treats. Today the crumbled pieces of dollies and wax paper go into the garbage along with the last crumbs and dustings of festive indulgence. Of course, my sentiments are bittersweet. The ritual of the last evenings of savoring a hot cup of tea with a chunk of fruitcake made by a friend will have to come to an end. I will have to forgo a sweet reward in the night and find fresher and lighter indulgences. The last bites of handmade fudge and nut cookies will be remembered fondly.
But before I move into my new ritual, I focus on a creating new tradition. Of course as I write the word “tradition” I wonder if I would indeed repeat the action next year. I am not one who practices traditions with success as the beat of my life is not regular. Every year is different. But deep down inside, I crave something familiar, something to anticipate.
Over the recent holidays we visited with an old friend of my husband’s sister. Etsuko Watada who lives in Tokyo was a pen pal of my sister-in-law Mollie Kobayashi from their childhood days. For over 50 years, these two have kept in touch and their children have been able to experience each other’s culture as they have grown up.
Etsuko shared with me her tradition of celebrating the New Year with champagne and noodles. She orders handmade artisan soba noodles and secures a supply of French champagnes. I fondly thought of how I have celebrated Chinese New Year and birthdays with noodles. Noodles represent long-life in the Asian culture and the longer the noodle better. Written records date back to the East Han Dynasty around AD 25 to AD 200 with archeologists recently unearthing a 4,000-year-old noodle in China. Why not honor this age old tradition? Why not celebrate the American New Year slurping noodles? I should of thought of this sooner.
Celebration and comfort will make for perfect partners. Sparkling wine or champagne is the perfect beginning for any meal, whetting our appetites and spirits. Then whenever I seek security, I find it by eating a bowl of noodles. So with a fizzy glass of sparkling wine symbolizing festivity and new beginnings, and noodles representing my ultimate comfort fare, I, at an older age have put together the perfect celebratory meal I believe.
A Happy New Year to all and wishes of long lives, good fortunes and delicious experiences.
Crispy Noodles with Stir-Fried Lobster with Black Beans, Green Onions and Ginger
Makes 2 servings
This dish is luxurious and yet filled with comfort. The sauce is silky and rich while the black beans provide just enough pungent saltiness and the ginger just enough citrusy spice. The generous sprinkle of green onions makes the dish look pretty and fresh. The sauce bathes the noodles. Pair this dish with a Schramsberg Crémant or my current favorite Inman Family Sparkling Brut Rosé and surely any year, anytime will be happy.
2 lobster tails in shell, about 16 ounces (A whole fresh lobster is the best option!)
4 stalks green onions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced diagonally
2-inch piece ginger, minced, divided
2 teaspoons dry sherry
1/2 pound Chinese egg noodles
5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 tablespoons black beans, rinsed, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
For Black bean sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1. Cut each lobster tail in half lengthwise through the shell, and remove the vein. Cut each half into 5-6 pieces, following the natural sections of the shell. (Chop the claws into small comparable size pieces if you are using a whole lobster.)
2. In a large bowl, mix the lobster pieces with the minced ginger and dry sherry and marinate for 15 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cook the noodles in boiling water until tender. Drain and place on a sheet tray to air-dry for 10-15 minutes.
4. In a nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Place the noodles in the pan in an even layer. Let the noodles cook on one side for about 10 minutes or until the edges become brown. Flip the noodle pancake by sliding onto a plate and then flipping back into the pan. Cook for about 8 minutes on the other side or until side is browned. Flip onto a plate and put into oven. Turn oven off.
5. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, sherry, sugar, chicken broth, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.
6. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a hot wok or skillet over high heat. Add the julienned ginger and white part of sliced green onions. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the lobster and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Remove lobster pieces from the wok and set aside.
7. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok and then black beans, garlic and remaining ginger. Stir-fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour in the sauce mixture; stir and mix until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Add lobster pieces back and stir-fry for about 1 minute to coat lobster with the sauce and to rewarm the meat.
8. Ladle lobster and sauce over noodles. Garnish with the green part of sliced green onions and serve immediately.