Today’s food: Simple noodles topped with mapo nappa

Nappa mapo on noodles

 

I’m still mortified that I used the word “overload” in my earlier post. It’s just one of those words like “explosion” that immediately discredits the dish by its name. However, I am going to keep that word there to remind myself of what a humiliating being I can be.

Noodle soup topped with simplified mapo. Instead of sweet black bean sauce (ten men jian), I season the mapo with only do ban jian (hot bean sauce), garlic (which are sauteed in oil before everything else is thrown in), soy sauce, wine, and sugar. The nappa doesn’t have an assertive texture, but blends in and adds some heft to the mapo sauce.
The simple noodle soup is just my leftover turkey broth seasoned with soy sauce and rice wine.

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Filed under faux chinese, Japanese noodles, ramen

Today’s food: Mushroom overload with hot and sour noodles

Mushroom hot and sour soup with noodles

The only thing more comforting than hot and sour soup is hot and sour soup noodles. Since the soup only requires dumping in chicken stock, cooking wine and soy sauce in a pan with ingredients, and finishing it up with white pepper, cornstarch mixed with a bit of water, and black vinegar, its an ideal dish to make when your head is pounding with residual beer from last night.

In this version, in lieu of the traditional ingredients, I dumped in any mushroom I can find in my house. Dried wood ear, dried shiitake, enoki, and whatever else was rolling around in my crisper drawer. Stuck a heap of homemade chili oil on top.

It was glorious.

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Using up the turkey: Chiayi turkey rice and khao soi

So in the last thing I wrote, I noted that I used the turkey breast for turkey porchetta char-siu, and the turkey back and carcass for ramen broth. I was stuck with the remaining wings and thighs, and I was coming down with a fever and a hangover, so I decided to do the easiest thing possible and just throw them in a pressure cooker, cover them with the least amount of water possible (to produce a concentrated broth) and left it on the stove until the meat were falling off the bones (about 20 min). I separated the meat from the bones, and the broth from whatever was left in the liquid.

The first batch I used to make khao soi. I combined Andy Ricker’s recipe from Pok Pok and Kenji Lopez’s recipe from Serious Eats.

Khao soi

And yes, I did not have any cilantro on hand, so I sprinkled some green onions. I regret that part, but that’s what home cooking is like. It’s balancing out the ideals represented in the cookbook with the realities of your pantry.

The second part I used to make Chiayi style turkey rice. It’s one of those extremely homey dishes that you get for dirt cheap, but is somehow memorable. It’s also the easiest dish to make if you already have some poached turkey and turkey broth on hand.

Taiwan chicken rice

The turkey rice actually doesn’t have that much turkey on it. A lot of the flavor comes from the turkey fat (that you can get by skimming the broth after it congeals) and the oil from the fried shallots.

So you start out by either frying up some shallots and garlic in a pool of oil until they become brown and crisp, or purchase some fried shallots from an Asian supermarket. They are sometimes called fried onions. It’s all the same. I think. I actually can’t tell the difference between shallots and onions sometimes. I personally think that this fact disqualifies me from writing about food at all.

Reserve the oil. Put shredded turkey in a pot and cover with very little amount of turkey broth. Salt and pepper. Throw in an awful lot of fried shallots/onions and stew on low for five minutes. Add some of the oil, enough so that the dish would be a bit too oily for your liking. Dump the whole thing onto some rice, and the oily-ness will become balanced.

If you have one of those artificially sweetened, artificially yellowed radish pickles they sell in Asian markets, garnish the dish with those.

Excellent with tofu mixed with preserved duck eggs, or clear broth with Chinese chives and congealed pig blood.

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Turkey ramen with turkey porchetta char-siu

I’m still taking my time getting used to the early Canadian Thanksgiving. Actually, I don’t have too much to get used to, since being a foreigner, Thanksgiving doesn’t mean too much to me except holiday TV episodes, friends coming home with depressing family stories, and cheap turkey.

Anyway, I grabbed a bag of cheap turkey a couple days before Thanksgiving day. Since I was going to a friend’s house to indulge in the beauty of traditional Thanksgiving day fare, I decided to use up my turkey for a completely Asian fare.

First, I made turkey char-siu with the breast. I created a turkey porchetta (as described on Serious Eats), but instead of the herb mixture, I rubbed in a thoroughly pounded mixture of green onion/ginger/garlic. Afterwards, I stewed the whole thing in a sugar/water/sake/mirin/soy sauce mixture with kombu (dried kelp) on low heat, until the insides were 150f.

Turkey breast char siu

I decided to boil down the remaining sauce to use it for the basic seasoning of the ramen, for brining the eggs, and for future char-siu making sessions. The boiled down braising liquid keeps well in the fridge, and the flavor improves as you keep using it and topping it off. The meaty goodness of the sauce improves any dish that it’s added to. So don’t throw away the braising liquid.

I made the ramen stock with the turkey back, neck, and other leftover parts. I just used my regular method of parboiling briefly, washing, and then throwing it in the pressure cooker with some green onions and ginger slices for 30-40 minutes.

The result:

Turykey shoyu ramen

Turkey porchetta char-siu, broth seasoned with braising liquid, eggs pickled in the same sauce, green onions, scallion oil, and some crushed garlic to top it off.

This turned out as a very comforting old-school shoyu ramen, despite the unorthodox use of turkey. The turkey porchetta char-siu was undoubtedly the highlight of the dish. And the char-siu braising liquid that I ended up with is being poured into my dishes every chance I get.

Now I’m left with the drumstick and thighs. I’m going to try to replicate the experience of eating Taiwanese turkey rice that I ate obsessively in Chiayi. My god I love Thanksgiving for its discounted poultry.

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Filed under Japanese noodles, ramen

Today’s food: sesame leaf pasta with pork and enoki

Ground pork, enoki in sweet soy sauce with sesame leaves

I bought a big bag of sesame leaves for making gamjatang. And now I’m stuck with a bunch of these things. It seems like there’s a conflation of sesame leaves and perilla leaves in English websites, but from my experience, there is a difference between the two, albeit in subtle ways.

Anyway, I decided to use them interchangeably. Otherwise, they’ll just wilt in my crisper drawer.

So this pasta dish is made by sautéing ground pork and enoki and adding a soy sauce-rice wine (or mirin)-sugar mixture, adding the pasta, and topping everything with a generous heap of sesame leaves cut into ribbons. Good stuff.

 

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Today’s food: gochujang carbonara

Carbonara-style with gochujang, pork belly, garlic, green onions

I always thought the method employed in carbonara of creating a thick, rich sauce from whole eggs had a lot of potential. For this dish, I rendered the fat out of sliced pork belly, mixed in some sandon noodles (udon will work fine) and then tossed the noodles in an egg and gochujang (korean chili paste) mixture, warming it up carefully so the eggs won’t completely congeal. Threw in some green onions, and I was finished. Simple, and a great way to use up the big vat of gochujang sitting in my fridge.

 

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Filed under Japanese noodles, pasta, udon

Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok

Complimenting on the cookbook Pok Pok at this point is like stating that cats are fluffy. People have acknowledged it, and already moved on. However, I just cannot get over how every dish I made from the book has turned out amazing. Sure, the dozens of homemade condiments listed in the ingredients are time consuming to make, and I did end up subbing a lot of ingredients (although it is explicitly stated not to do this) due to the large number of hard-to-find or hard-to-use-up ingredients. But even with my constant bastardizing of the dishes with Japanese/Korean ingredients, every dish provided a wholly novel flavor that took me out of the monotony of my home cooking.

I love this cookbook as dearly as I love the Thai recipes from the blog She Simmers. Besides the obvious commonality that they both feature Thai cuisines is that they both take a critical stance against the notion of authenticity.

 

So here are some of the highlights:

Khao Phat Muu: stir-fried rice. I thought I was bored, tired of any iterations of fried rice dishes. I was wrong.

Khao Phat Muu, Thai fried rice from Pok Pok

Khao Tom: Rice soup. Wonderful for warming your body, getting over colds, and hangovers.

Pok pok's rice soup

Yam Makheua Yao: eggplant salad

Thai eggplant salad

Phat Fak Thawng: stir-fried squash. My partner’s new favorite way of eating squash. Actually, her only favorite way of eating squash.

Squash from pok pok

Tam Taeng Kwaa: Cucumber salad

Thai cucumber/tomato/vermicelli salad

Holy basil chicken without the holy basil. I feel remorse.

Thai basil chicken

Yam Khai Dao: Fried egg salad. I am not sure if I would qualify this as a salad. But it’s delicious.

Thai fried egg salad

Kung Op Wun Sen: glass noodles and shrimp baked in a pot. This one’s one of the more Chinese influenced dishes in the cookbook. It’s one of the few noodle dishes that actually pairs wonderfully with rice. Thai-Chinese vermicelli baked in clay pot

PHak Buung Fai Daeng: stir-fried water spinach. Although I used gai-lan. Oyster mushroom, Thai chili, gai-lan

Khao Soi Kai: Northern Thai curry noodle soup with chicken. It’s hell making this dish without a mortar and pestle (I used a cylindrical baking pin with pint glasses.) But it’s worth it. If this dish involved less work, I would seriously consider replacing this with my curry udon recipe as my hangover morning food.

Khao Soi Gai

 

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Filed under cookbooks, Food, Thai, Uncategorized