Category Archives: faux chinese

Today’s food: char-siu rice bowl lunchbox

lunch box: Char-siu pork rice bowl

This char-siu was initially made for my ramen. Japanese style char-siu is deceptively simple, and involves simply tying up a hunk of pork (loin or belly) and stew the pork in a mixture of water, soy sauce, sake, and sugar, while staying somewhat vigilant to scoop up any gunk that floats around. The soy sauce mixture used to stew the pork can later be boiled down and reused for stewing other bits of pork, or as a savory, porky alternative to soy sauce. In the case of this rice bowl, the reduced sauce was poured on top. Wonderful stuff served with some stir-fried bok choy.

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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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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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Today’s food: knife cut noodles with seaweed chili soup

Knife cut noodles, douban jian, soy sauce, sugar, ground pork, shredded nori

Usually, being time constrained leads me to make something that tastes like crap, but this time the dish worked. This dish turned out pretty amazing. The seaweed element is essential for this dish, and you can use either the Chinese dried seaweed that comes in big, round slabs, or just shred some nori, which is what I did.

So to make this dish, you fry up some chili bean paste (doubanjian, 豆板醤), garlic, ginger in oil until the oil turns red. Put in ground pork and mix it up with the chili bean paste. Once the pork changes color, pour in chicken broth, wait until it’s boiling, and add some cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Once the noodles are boiled and ready, throw in the seaweed, pour everything over, and garnish with green onions.

One of the key points is to use very little broth, less than 200cc per person. This makes for a small amount of intensely flavored broth, rather than a lot of bland liquid.

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Today’s food: ramen in cold broth (hiyashi ramen)


This was really good. Only about once or twice a year I hit on an original recipe that’s very simply, without a doubt, delicious.  What started out as a half-assed attempt to recreate the hiyashi-ramen that I’ve been reading about turned into a wonderful dish. Proximity to the authentic hiyashi-ramen ceased to be an issue.

Boil konbu (kelp) in small amount of water for konbu stock. Add salt and dash of fish sauce. Discard konbu and chill. Combine with refrigerated mature hen stock. Make flavored oil by heating oil with dried shrimp, garlic, sesame seeds, green onions, and whatever aromatic stuff.

Boil and rinse noodles in cold water. Top with tomatoes, sliced red cabbage, cilantro, boiled egg, whatever protein you have on hand (grilled chicken, charsiu), and flavored oil.

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Today’s food: torisoba, noodles in chicken broth

Throw mature hen in pressure cooker for 1.5 hours (after cleaning and quick parboil). Set aside 200-300ml for torisoba. Season soup with rice wine (or Shiaoxing wine), a dribble of soy sauce, and salt. You can soak some kelp in there for some added glutamate umami. Blanche some Asian greens, shred meat from hen, and throw everything together with some very thin ramen noodles (or egg noodles, or thin wheat (like sômen) noodles). Add a drizzle of sesame oil.

Tori-soba: simple chicken noodle


Stare into the clear, golden broth and slurp.

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Filed under faux chinese, Japanese, Japanese noodles, Uncategorized