Tag Archives: ramen

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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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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Today’s food: Taiwan maze-men

Taiwan maze-men has nothing to do with Taiwan. It’s a dish that came from Nagoya, the Japanese equivalent of a midwestern city, a middle child living in the shadows of Tokyo and Osaka. However, there are numerous strange culinary inventions that originated in that city, such as the cutlet doused in miso sauce, or Japanese style spiced wings. Taiwan maze-men is not the best known of Nagoya foods, but it’s still a highly popular dish.

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Maze-men is a direct translation of the Chinese ban-mian, soupless noodles that are meant to be mixed before being eaten. Taiwan maze-men consists of thick noodles, onion or garlic oil, spicy sauteed ground pork, shredded nori, and chopped Chinese chives, and an uncooked egg yolk on top.

I didn’t have any chives, so I topped it with some thinly sliced cabbage. Not the best substitute, but it’ll provide some crunch. I had some doubts about the freshness of my eggs, so I threw them in a 140f hot water for 45 minutes, so that they would come out soft-cooked. The eggy parts are essential to this dish.

The spicy pork I made by sauteeing doubanjian (Chinese spicy chili bean) with garlic until the oil turned red, and then threw in some soy sauce, sugar and sake. The ground pork is the main salty element in this dish, so season heavily.

If you have the ground pork, noodles, and the egg yolk, I think you got the most essential parts covered. This sum of this dish is much, much greater than its parts. It becomes this eggy, spicy, porky mass when it’s mixed.

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Today’s food: Gazpacho Asian noodles

Cold noodles are wonderful. Much like watermelons, swimsuits, and ripe tomatoes, they are only meant to be enjoyed during a limited time, and lamented over the other seasons (although the jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita was a strong advocate for cold noodles served year-round at restaurants.) With the beginning of the fall, we approach the end of cold noodle season. Simultaneously, we’re at the tail end of the period when tomatoes are the most flavorful.

Gazpacho somen

The gazpacho part of the gazpacho noodles follow the conventional recipe for the cold soup, except for the additions of ginger, soy sauce, and a bit of sesame oil at the end. Today it’s topped with scallions, homemade kimchi, cucumbers, and leftover roast beef. Any kind of asian noodles would do, but my favorites are sômen noodles and ramen noodles.

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

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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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Ramen failure and partial success

One thing that I could never figure out is how long the initial boil of the bones should be. Without it, the broth takes on a cloudy and brown color, and overdoing the process leads to a less flavorful broth.

Example 1: Too much boiling

Shoyu ramen

I used a bunch of leftover chicken thigh bones for this one. Even after two rounds of throwing the bone into a pot of boiling water and washing it, the broth took on a shade of pink. After the third time, when I put the lid on my pressure cooker, hoped for the best, and left it on for an hour, the broth still had an unappealing color. I threw that away, and filled my pot up with water for the third time. The result was a clear, beautiful looking broth that tasted like nothing.

Example 2: Partial success

 

Shoyu ramen with pork back soup

For this one, I used pork back bones I got from a Chinese market. Instead of throwing the bones in boiling water, I put the bones in cold water, and washed the bones after the water came to a boil. This worked much better, and the amount of coagulated blood and other unidentifiable gunk that floated on top satisfied me immensely.

After an hour and a half in the pressure cooker, I took out the bones and picked the meat from them. I sautéed the meat in sugar, sake, soy sauce, and a bit of fish sauce. When I took a bite, the meat tasted amazing. A bit too good, in fact.

Meat from pork back bone, after ramenThat’s when I realized that I didn’t stew the bones for long enough. If I extracted every bit of flavor in the bones, I should have ended up with tasteless, dry bits of meat that can only be salvaged by heavy flavoring. However, this ramen by-product that I made still retained some porky flavor that could have gone into the soup.

This is completely unrelated, but Taiwan has a bill on review for same sex marriage. Taiwan has one of the most progressive countries in Asia in terms of LGBT issues, and the passing of this bill could help not only in making people’s lives more livable, but in affecting the discourse on marginalized sexuality in Asia. The bill has been opposed by some, who state that the passing on this bill will encourage polyamory or orgies (which ignores the fact that this will benefit monogamous couples) or even bestiality (which I have no idea why this is an issue. If you cannot differentiate between homosexuality and bestiality, I don’t think  you understand the issue at hand.)

Anyway, if you can read Chinese, or have anybody that can translate for you, and would like to support the bill, you can sign a petition here. 

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