Quick breakfast recipe: Chinese macaroni soup noodles, with a twist

by Clarence D. Staley

I love Chinese breakfasts of macaroni soup noodles, served at inexpensive restaurants. The dish comes with various toppings, including a thin slice of ham (or a thicker slice of pan-fried canned luncheon meat, such as Spam) and a fried egg, in a monosodium gluta­mate-heavy broth.
My favourite version has thin slivers of pork cooked with zha choi (also known as zha cai), or Sichuan preserved mustard stem. I also like it with sausage and egg, but I make it with Taiwanese pork sausage instead of the hot dog served at most restaurants.
Hong Kong-style macaroni soup noodles with pork and preserved mustard stem
Most restaurants serve the noodles and toppings in a light broth flavoured with MSG. I use unsalted chicken broth, but because the pork and preserved vegetable are salty, it also works with water. Tell your guests to mix the toppings with the noodles and the water will have plenty of flavour.
300 grams boneless pork loin or tenderloin
10ml light soy sauce
10ml rice wine
½ tsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp finely ground white pepper
½ tsp cornstarch
5ml sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling
Fine sea salt
120 grams zha choi
250 grams small macaroni
1.2 litres unsalted chicken stock (preferably home-made) or water
4 eggs
Cooking oil, as necessary
1-2 spring onions

1 Cut the pork across the grain into thin strips and place in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, pepper, cornstarch, 5ml of sesame oil and 1/8 tsp of fine sea salt. Mix well, then set aside for a few minutes while preparing the other ingredients.

2 Thoroughly rinse the zha choi to remove as much of the sticky red coating as possible. Dry with paper towels and cut into thin batons.
3 Boil a pot of salted water, add the macaroni and boil until tender. Drain the pasta, then rinse with cold water and drain again.
4 Cook the topping. Heat a wok over a medium-high flame and add about 10ml of cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add the pork and its marinade and stir-fry until the meat loses its pink colour. Add the zha choi and stir well, then mix in about 60ml of water. Simmer until the meat is cooked, then turn off the flame. The mixture will taste very salty, but it’s not meant to be eaten on its own.
5 Heat the chicken stock (or water) in a saucepan over a medium flame. When the liquid boils, lower the flame and keep it hot.
6 Lightly oil a skillet (preferably well-seasoned black cast iron) and place it over a medium flame. When the skillet is hot, fry the eggs one or two at a time, oiling the skillet as necessary so they don’t stick. Cook the eggs sunny-side up, so the white is barely set and the yolk is still runny. Place the fried eggs on a tray or plate.
7 Rinse the macaroni with hot water, then divide between four bowls. Divide the chicken stock (or water) between the bowls, then add the pork and vegetable topping. Add a fried egg to each portion. Quickly mince the spring onion and scatter it over the top. Drizzle a little sesame oil into each bowl, then serve immediately.

Hong Kong-style macaroni soup noodles with sausage and egg
Taiwanese pork sausages are delicious. They are slightly fatty with a sweet-salty flavour. I buy them at City’super.
4 Taiwanese pork sausages, about 75 grams each
250 grams small macaroni
Fine sea salt
1.2 litres unsalted chicken stock, preferably home-made
4 eggs
Cooking oil, as necessary
Sesame oil, for drizzling
1-2 spring onions
1 Very lightly oil a skillet (preferably black cast iron) and place the sausages in it. Put the skillet over a medium-high flame and heat until the sausages start to sizzle. Lower the heat to medium and cook the sausages until done (about 10 minutes). Turn them over as necessary so they brown lightly and adjust the flame so they cook at a low sizzle.
2 While the sausages are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Boil a pot of salted water, add the macaroni and boil until tender. Drain the pasta, then rinse with cold water and drain again.
3 Heat the chicken stock (or water) in a saucepan placed over a medium flame. When the liquid boils, stir in ¾ tsp of salt (or more, to taste), then lower the flame and keep it hot.
4 Cook the eggs as in the first recipe.
5 Rinse the macaroni with hot water. Divide the macaroni and the chicken stock between four bowls. Slice the cooked sausages into thick pieces, then add them to the bowls and top each with a fried egg. Mince the spring onion and scatter it over the top. Drizzle with a little sesame oil, then serve immediately.

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