Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Heritage: Memory of My Grand Father's Duck Noodle

--An email from a good friend--


What's so special about your dish, Street Market Noodles with Duck, is how it triggers so many memories-my own fondness for the dish, nostalgia for your restaurant, The Road to Mandalay. Our friendship which goes back to the days of the restaurant, and most touchingly, your memories of food and family in Myanmar. It's a trip down sense memory lane.

My grandfather's famous noodle with roast duck, fried garlic, dash of salt
Recently a dear friend from the days of my first restaurant in New York, The Road to Mandalay, finally tied the knot after being together for 25 years. They asked me to make food for their wedding reception. Among the 7 dishes they requested was my grandfather's Street Market Noodles with Duck, a dish my grandfather cooked at the night market in Yangon, Myanmar.

It was sold as supper after 9pm. People would stroll into the market and either sit on wooden stools to eat it or have him tie the noodles up into a bundle like a tamale with  banana leaf as a take-out snack. I was only a few years old when I first tasted the dish. A garlicky noodle dish as simple as could be, it is seared with duck fat, garlic oil, fresh egg noodles, sliced duck, minced spring onion and crispy fried garlic.

Growing up I remember how my family and friends would rave about these noodles. It was always a special treat on the day when the aroma of garlic would permeate the house, and you could hear noodles sauteing on the wok. When I opened my restaurant, Road to Mandalay, I introduced the dish to New York. I got the same reaction from my customers, people like the rocker, Lenny Kravits and the Persian filmmaker and artist, Shirin Neshat, as I did from my family in Myanmar.

When I closed Road to Mandalay I took a sabbatical in Asia, and then came back and launched Saffron59. As part of my comprehensive menu I offered an array of noodle dishes but never Street Market Noodles with Duck--until a few days ago. After receiving rave reviews from the wedding party guests, I realized it was time to consider adding my grandfather's celebrated noodle dish to the menu.

Ingredients for my grandfather's famous duck noodle by Saffron 59
 Ingredients for my grandfather's famous duck noodle, a photo by Saffron 59 on Flickr.

Duck Noodle

5lb Duck Breast scored strips (or from your local butcher)
4 bulbs of garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and black pepper
6 tbsp soy sauce
3lb fresh egg noodles
8 bunches of spring onions, minced
1 1/2 cups of oil
Fry the garlic in 1 1/2 cups of oil til the garlic get medium brown and separate on paper towel, save the oil
Sear the duck, skin down til medium rare and sliced into strips, reserved the oil.
Fill up wok with water and bring to a boil.
Add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes til the pasta surfaced.
Drain well and toss with a dizzle of garlic oil
Heat the wok and add garlic oil, duck fat, add the spring onions and toss in the noodle and duck meat
Toss some soy sauce, salt and black pepper to taste.
Stir fry for a minute or two til all the ingredients are incorporated and add the fried garlic chips
Garnish with some more fried garlic and spring onions.
Yield: 30 guests

*we recommend to wok seared the noodle in batches

  Have a happy holiday to you and to your loved ones!