To my surprised (I imagine it will be my family’s as well), I am writing a recipe with spring onions, not as a garnish, but as the main ingredient! I was never keen on spring onion so much since I was a child, although I grew up seeing them often in our kitchen and whenever I went to the market with my mother, we were always given spring onion for free if we bought vegetables from the stalls, but I could somehow avoid eating it. If any of it did land on my bowl, it would be skillfully removed by me with chopsticks almost immediately, even the smallest loop that was hidden in my food (and I was famous for that). I remember vividly that my sister Karen and I once went for congee (Chinese style slow-cooked rice soup) in a local eatery in the old Macau city, when the food arrived, I was horrify by the sight of a large pile of chopped raw green onions on top of my congee, and I scooped it out with my porcelain soup spoon without hesitation, in a split second, the onions and the spoon were landed on Karen’s bowl (as she loves spring onion). She was so surprised how fast I was (as I was always the sluggish one in the family) and we both laughed in tears and people who shared our table were curiously looking at us with amusement. This was how much I dislike spring onions, and I disliked it for a very long time.
Not until recent years, when I started working closely with food, did I realise how much flavour spring onion can provide to a dish. Like other types of allium, such as onion, leek, shallot, garlic etc, spring onion is part of a good foundation of many savory dishes as well as condiments and sauces, with its piquancy and subtle sweetness. I prefer it cooked (still not so keen on eating it raw though) because cooking allows it to reach its full potential. When cooking spring onion at home, it perfumes the house with wonderful and lengthy aroma, for me, it is comforting.
It is important to grill the spring onions as whole, which allows the vegetable to remain moist on the inside, charred and caramelised on the outside. This recipe makes an easy and delightful side dish and it will go very well with grilled meat and fish (or vegetables). Ramen or other type of noodles can be use to replace spaghetti, but I rather like the texture of the spaghetti and it can always be found in the kitchen cupboards. A squeeze of lime juice is essential, as it gives the whole dish one more layer of flavour.
serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main
- 200g spaghetti (I use gluten-free one)
- 1 bunch spring onion, trim off the root, washed, pad dried (cut the green top across if they are too long to fit in the pan)
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, separated
- Vegetable oil
- 6 tbsp. Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
- 4 tbsp. maple syrup
- lime, quartered
In a small bowl, combine tamari, maple syrup and mix well. Set aside.
Cook the spaghetti in a pot of salted boiling water according to package instruction. Once cooked, drained in colander and add 1 tablespoon of butter to the spaghetti (to prevent them from sticking together) and mixed well.
Heat a griddle pan on medium high. Coat the spring onions with a little vegetable oil and grill on the pan until soft and charred, about 4 minutes, turn them once or twice during cooking. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then roughly chopped. Set aside.
In a wok or high-rimmed frying pan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and a little drizzle of vegetable oil. Add spaghetti and about 3 tablespoons of the tamari maple sauce. Stir fry for about 2 minutes until the spaghetti is coated evenly with the sauce. Add spring onions and 2 more tablespoons of the sauce, fry for another minute, have a taste, add more sauce if needed. When you are happy with the taste, remove the pan from heat.
Divide the noodles on warm plates, served with a squeeze of lime juice and the remaining tamari maple dressing (as desired). Served immediately.