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Braised Birthday Noodles with Hoisin Lamb

In China, the egg symbolizes continuity and fertility so it is frequently included in birthday dishes. The noodles traditionally served at birthday celebrations are left long: it is considered bad luck to cut them since this might shorten one's life.

ingredients

serves 4
350 g (12 oz) thick egg noodles
1 kg (2 1/4 lb) lean neck fillets of lamb
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
115 g (4 oz) fine green beans, topped and tailed, and blanched
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs, halved, and 2 spring onions, finely chopped, to garnish

for the marinade

2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 ml (2 tsp) grated fresh root ginger
30 ml (2 tbsp) soy sauce
30 ml (2 tbsp) rice wine
1 - 2 dried red chillies
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil

for the sauce

15 ml (1 tbsp) cornflour
30 ml (2 tbsp) soy sauce
30 ml (2 tbsp) rice wine
grated rind and juice of 1/2 orange
15 ml (1 tbsp) hoisin sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) wine vinegar
5 ml (1 tsp) soft light brown sugar

method

1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes only. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside.

2. Cut the lamb into 5 cm (2 in) thick medallions. Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a large shallow dish. Add the lamb and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole. Fry the lamb for 5 minutes until browned. Add just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, skim, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the meat is tender, adding more water as necessary.

4. Make the sauce. Blend the cornflour with the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Stir into the lamb and mix well without breaking up the meat.

5. Add the noodles to the lamb with the beans. Simmer gently until both the noodles and the beans are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the noodles, lamb and beans among four large bowls, garnish each portion with half a hard-boiled egg, sprinkle with spring onions and serve.

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