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On-the-Fly Noodles With Shrimp

6 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin, sweet sherry or sweet vermouth
Pinch of shichimi togarashi, see notes
1 cup cooked chopped spinach
6 jumbo shrimp, in shells but deveined
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, white and green parts, cut into 2-inch squares
12 ounces dried soba (buckwheat) noodles
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
Hot Chili Oil, see notes, to taste
1/4 cup white sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish

Combine water, soy sauce, sake, mirin and shichimi togarashi in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer to cook off the alcohol and let the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles, return to a boil and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain thoroughly in a colander.

Divide the noodles and spinach among 6 serving bowls.

Add the shrimp, chicken, onion and scallions to the simmering broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the broth mixture from the heat. Add 1 shrimp to each serving of noodles and spinach, then add chicken and vegetables, dividing them evenly. Ladle the broth into the bowls, then drizzle each serving with lemon juice, sesame oil and hot oil. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Notes: To make Shichimi togarashi, toast 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns and 1 small dried hot red chile. Grind together with 1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel and 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried dark green seaweed or substitute cayenne pepper

To make Hot Chili Oil: Steep 3 dried ancho chilies in hot water to cover until soft, about 40 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry. Transfer to a food processor, add 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes and process until smooth. Combine the pureed chilies with 2 cloves garlic, crushed, and 2 cups olive oil. Heat over medium heat until the oil begins to ripple. Remove and cool. Strain through damp coffee filters, changing the filter each time until the oil is clear. Store in a tightly capped clean jar in the refrigerator for a month.

Thursday, May 18, 2000

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