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Crossing the bridge noodles (Guo qiao mi xian)

"Guo qiao mi xian, one of the great signature dishes of Yunnan, is named for a story about love and loyalty. It concerns a scholar who isolated himself on an island in Mengzi County to study for the imperial exams. Every day, his faithful wife would cross the bridge to bring him noodles, but alas, the noodles were cold by the time she got there. She discovered that pouring a layer of oil on top of the broth would keep it hot enough to cook the other ingredients. Her scholar-husband passed his exam. The dish relies on great chicken stock - so much so that restaurants guard their recipes like crown jewels."

You'll need

4 chicken carcasses 500 gm chicken wings 5 thick slices ginger 4 spring onions, coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves 5 dried licorice roots (optional; see note) 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns (optional) 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine To taste: light soy sauce   Dipping sauce 5 long red chillies 1 large garlic clove 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil 60 ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar 1 tsp caster sugar   Noodles and toppings 250 gm dried rice noodles (see note) 150 gm pickled Chinese greens, coarsely chopped (see note) 100 gm skinless chicken breast fillet, sliced paper-thin 100 gm pork fillet, sliced paper-thin 100 gm jamón, sliced paper-thin (optional) 100 gm fish fillets, sliced paper-thin 4 quail eggs 2 bok choy, coarsely chopped 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, sliced 3 spring onions and a handful of garlic chives, cut into 5cm lengths To serve: coriander, garlic chilli sauce and sesame oil


  • 01
  • Combine chicken carcasses and wings, ginger, spring onions, garlic, licorice roots and Sichuan peppercorns in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, skim scum from surface, reduce heat to low and barely simmer until stock is well flavoured (2-3 hours). Season to taste with sea salt, remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain stock into a clean saucepan and keep warm.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for dipping sauce, process chilli and garlic in a small food processor to a coarse paste. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add chilli mixture and stir occasionally until fragrant (2 minutes). Add vinegar, sugar, 250ml water and 1 tsp sea salt, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened (8-10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  • 03
  • Cook rice noodles in boiling salted water until cooked through, drain and set aside.
  • 04
  • Bring chicken stock, Shaoxing and soy sauce to the boil in a large saucepan over high heat and season to taste with sea salt.
  • 05
  • Divide pickled greens, chicken breast, pork, jamón, fish, quail eggs, bok choy, shiitake, spring onion and garlic chives among hot soup bowls. Ladle boiling broth over, top with noodles and scatter with coriander. Serve hot with dipping sauce, garlic chilli sauce and sesame oil.

Note Dried licorice roots and pickled Chinese greens, or yan cai, are available from Asian grocers, as are the thick dried rice noodles called guo qiao mi xian, which are made specially for this dish.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 people

Drink Suggestion

The best carefully bottle-aged riesling you can afford.

Featured in

Oct 2012

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