ffwd: shrimp and cellophane noodles

shrimp and cellophane noodles

This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is a bit of Asian fusion, sort of. Dorie says she was first served this dish, Shrimp and Cellophane Noodles, by her friend Hélène Samuel as part of a dinner of orange food. Interesting… I’ve been wondering which part of the dish is considered orange. The coral of the cooked shrimp or the red of the tomato puree. I’m not sure.

Ingredients for this dish spawned a trip to HMart, a gigantic nearby Korean supermarket with a usually large selection of Asian ingredients. Though they have more choices of kimchis and marinated meats for Korean BBQ than I’ve seen anywhere else, their inventory usually includes what’s needed for most Asian cuisines. For some reason, this trip, I was surprised that there was only one choice for tree ear mushrooms and one choice for cellophane noodles. On the bright side, half of the back wall of the store is a fresh fish counter, so I could pick up shrimp and make it a one-stop shop.

To be fair, this recipe should have been named Shrimp, MUSHROOM, and Cellophane Noodles. The dried tree ear mushrooms, once rehydrated, were the main ingredient. I couldn’t believe how much the mushrooms, well, mushroomed. The little one ounce pack grew to fill a medium sized bowl with gigantic tree ears. I debated using only half of the mushrooms, once shredded, but ended up using it all.

Bloomin' Mushrooms

Also, I didn’t understand why the rehydrated noodles were doused in sesame oil and then, shortly before assembling the dish, cooked ever so briefly in the pot of water which simply washed the oil off. I added more sesame oil afterwards, but I wasn’t sure about the purpose this step. Anyone have a clue?

Asian ingredients with tomato puree sounded like we were in for a bit of fusion cooking. Unfortunately, the end result was weird. I mentioned the large amount of mushrooms. The dish offered varied textures with the firm shrimp, the slippery noodles, and the dominant shredded mushrooms. I didn’t expect it to taste Italian from tomatoes alone, however, the tomatoes seemed to flatten out the taste completely. There wasn’t any hint of the Asian flavors, even though there was ample sesame oil, five-spice powder, and garlic in there. To Howard, it tasted very sweet, though we couldn’t figure out if that was from the miniscule amount of sugar or the warm spices in the five-spice powder. The consensus at our table was that this dish didn’t quite work.

We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To see what other Doristas thought of this recipe, check out their posts here.

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Posted on 25 January 2013, in French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Yeah, weird is the word…. But this dish did remind me how much I like 5 spice :-)

    Stay warm

  2. We agree. Asian-meets-Italian? So strange. Looking forward to going back to French recipes!

  3. I was curious about the orange part too. With only a small amount of tomato puree, mine looked kinda orange. But other than that? I dunno. This was definitely a strange dish. I think the only thing I really learned was that I don’t like cellophane noodles! I’m looking forward to going back to the French food!

  4. I added the sesame oil after… a lot of things didn’t make sense in this recipe.

  5. That seems to have been the general consensus across the board this week. I was also confused by the need to cook the noodles twice, mine were completely tender after a quick soak and so I didn’t bother recooking them.

  6. Wood ear mushrooms and cellophane noodles are more a chinese thing than Korean–probably why they didn’t have a whole lot of choices at Hmart. I opted not to make it when I read through the recipe. There was just too much that was just not right.

  7. I made adjustments and ended up liking the recipe. I’m not sure I’d make it again, but it was good, in my opinion.

  8. HI Betsy! I didn’t realize how much the tree mushrooms grew when hydrated!! I couldn’t find them so I’m probably lucky for that! I also read the comments so I knew not to put in the tomato puree- very strange recipe that needed major tweaking;-)

  9. Best part of this dish was the shrimp, mushrooms, and the 5 spice – if it had only had those three…. Not a keeper. Was a little strange.

  10. You are in the majority this week. I didn’t love this dish, but thought it was ok.

  11. Well, I think weird is the world of the day for this recipe…not a good one. I hope Dorie reads some of our experiences with her book. We’ve learned lots from her, but once in awhile we can teach her too.

  12. the sesame oil keeps the noodles from sticking together in a huge mass… it is weird though that she has us washing it off essentially. once I read that, I waited til the rest of the food was ready before I made the noodles because they just dont take any time really and doused them in sesame oil which made a great contrast to the tomatoes and I loved it!

  13. Betsy, I think we can all agree that this recipe is not really quite worthy of a repeat performance – as you already saw I ended up making a totally different Noodles & Prawns dish and took a lot of liberties with Dore´s recipe (something I do not usually do). Alice is right, the Sesame Oil is supposed to keep the Chinese noodles from becoming too sticky but since it is quite an expensive oil, so I am always careful not to douse my food in it, it is too strong tasting to be using it liberally.
    I guess we are all looking forward to other great recipes! Have a wonderful weekend!

  14. I was a little put off by the mushrooms too – they were huge! But it was fun to try something new at least!

  15. This was definitely a different dish. I forget about checking the Ps and Qs each week I guess because we didn’t have them for so long. This is one week I would have benefited from reading them first. :) But, I do like following the recipe the first time and then making adjustments if I don’t like the recipe. I like your photo of the mushrooms. You can see why they got that name! :) I hope you have a great weekend!

  16. I’m looking forward to next week’s normal recipe of veggies which sound delightful.
    Have a great weekend.

  17. I think this might be the least popular of all the recipes in the book.

    I didn’t bother with the tree ear mushrooms, because I found a mix of fresh wild mushrooms that I couldn’t resist. They look really interesting, though, even if the quantity was a little off for this recipe.

    I didn’t rinse the noodles – I wonder if it was a method of reheating them? I also used a different kind and just threw them into the wok for the last 30 seconds or so.

  18. For some reason yours does seem like quite a few mushrooms. Odd! And I totally agree, it’s just a weird recipe!

  19. The sesame oil stops the noodles clumping together. And the sweet comes from the tomato purée. Not a winner, this one. Sans tomato purée yes but the way it’s written, no.

  20. I was too weirded out by the tomato puree so I skipped the dish altogether. Kudos for trying it!

  21. This was a weird combination of ingredients…I had to leave out the tomato puree…just didn’t sound good to me! Kudos for giving it a try, Betsy!

  22. I agree there were too many mushrooms, and a strange combination of flavors.

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