10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 3 teaspoons extra
1½ teaspoons sugar
5cm piece ginger, shredded finely
1 telegraph cucumber
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons black vinegar
2-3 tablespoons chilli oil
4 spring onions, sliced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cooked brown lentils, well drained (canned is fine)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons peanut oil
200g fresh mushrooms, very finely chopped
350g wheat noodles

I have loosely based this recipe on dandan noodles – a Sichuan speciality – replacing the pork with lentils and mushrooms. It’s a balancing act, as without the fattiness from the pork you do need the oiliness of the chilli oil. So, if you don’t want the noodles too hot, replace chilli oil with peanut oil or similar. The addition of the ginger cucumber really adds zing and a fresh crunch.

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1.Put the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl, cover with warm water and leave to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes.
2.In a small bowl, combine the rice vinegar, sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, half a teaspoon of the sugar and the ginger. Set aside.
3.Cut the cucumber into long matchsticks (a mandoline is useful here) and set aside in another bowl (don’t mix with the ginger yet).
4.Toast the peppercorns in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
5.Transfer to a mortar and crush lightly.
6.Scoop out all but about half a teaspoon and set aside.
7.Grind the remaining to a powder and put in a bowl.
8.Toast the sesame seeds in the frying pan for about 2 minutes, tossing, until golden.
9.Set aside 1 tablespoon for garnish, put the remainder in the mortar and grind roughly.
10.Add to the bowl with the finely ground pepper, then add the black vinegar, chilli oil, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix well and set aside.
11.Add the green part of the spring onions to the cucumber.
12.Put the white part in a separate bowl.
13.Drain the shiitake and chop very finely, discarding the tough stem, and add to the bowl with the spring-onion whites.
14.Add the garlic, lentils, hoisin, Shaoxing, remaining 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and the crushed Sichuan pepper.
15.All the previous steps of this recipe can be prepped in advance, ready to cook quickly when needed.
16.To finish, bring 4 cups of water to the boil and simmer with the lid on.
17.Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a wok over a high heat, add the fresh mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes.
18.Add the lentil mixture; stir-fry for 5 minutes.
19.Cook the noodles in the simmering water until tender.
20.Towards the end of cooking, spoon off 8 tablespoons of the cooking water into the chilli sauce and stir to combine. Drain the noodles.
21.Divide the sauce between 4 bowls and top with the noodles and lentil mix.
22.Toss the cucumber with the ginger dressing and pile this on top, scattering with a few sesame seeds to garnish.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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