We have a strange heat wave impacting SoCal these last few days. It kinda comes and goes and I cannot wait till it’s finally over so I can officially welcome my favorite cooking season of the year and while I wait, here’s another asian inspired recipe that I wanted to document here and share with you. I love udon noodles and this dish, in particular, is becoming a tradition in the house. I have made it twice this week it is that good. Perfect comfort concoction in a bowl and as you’ve probably already guessed really simple to make. It’s’ noodles come on, let’s go do this!
Hey guys, here’s my humble version of takana fried rice. I’ve had this dish a number of times at Musha: A little Japanese restaurant not far from where I live in the Santa Monica area, LA. They serve traditional homemade style food, warm and cold dishes. The ambience is awesome and I really love that place. When I order I tend to gravitate towards the same dishes every time I visit which isn’t hard. The portions are tapas style so it’s pretty easy to sample your way through their entire menu in a few visits and find the dishes you really like.
Sometimes, you just throw whatever you find in the fridge in a pot and magical s%@# happens. THAT… happened to me last night. I didn’t bother checking seasoning or temperatures, pretty careless about the whole thing actually. I was just not in the OCD mood and literally threw this meal together last second almost angrily, well kinda, actually not angrily at all, I was in a pretty good mood. But usually proceeding this way ends up in disaster. I got lucky this time I guess. Pinch of this and that, boiled some water, 15 minutes later I was done.
L I B E R A T I N G.
I guess that feeling went away right around the time I had to place that egg yolk on top of that noodle mound, whatever, it was fun too. Anyways, for this post I tried a few new things photography-wise. I just got a gopro camera and a Knog LED light bank for it. Gopros are these tiny basic looking cameras. They’re super powerful tho, serious high tech stuff. They’re literally a cubic inch in size. They can do a lot of things. Time lapse photography is one of them. Wish they could do dishes too. I posted one video here, compressing about one hour into 50 seconds 🙂 Also, I used that Knog LED light bank instead of my speedlite flashgun for the main photography. It was super fun and I hope you enjoy the pics and vid. Ah right, the food… here is the recipe!
Ingredients (serves 2):
500g Dry or fresh ramen noodles, or any pasta you like.
1 can of sardines in tomato sauce and olive oil.
2 Tbsp of dried anchovies (Japanese ones rule)
2 Tbsp minced garlic (yep, that’s a lot of garlic, bring it on)
A bunch of marinated soybean sprouts.
2 Quail egg yolks. Or chicken egg yolks, let’s not discriminate.
Sriracha sauce to taste.
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives or green onions.
4 water crackers, crumbled.
Noodles. Cook these at the end. Get the water boiling at the beginning tho. By the time that water boils, the sauce (instructions below) should be pretty much done. Add some salt to the water. About a Tbsp per quart. When the water boils. Add the noodles and cook until ready. Some noodles will come with instructions, follow them… or… throw those away, the instructions I mean. Cook them until they are done and al dente. After 3-4 mins, start checking. Ramen noodles have the best al dente bite, love them. It’s probably better to rely on your own senses than on those instructions anyways.
Sauce. Like I said. Throw those other ingredients together in a pot except for the garnishes. Add a couple of Tbsp of water in the pot over medium heat. Boil off that water. That water will just cook the garlic and blend all the flavours together. Remove from the heat, and make sure the sauce is saucy, add some water if too dry. Keep reducing if it is not. Add the rinsed noodles to the pot and mix well. Keep the pot on the stove for a couple more minutes to boil off any extra water added by the noodles if that’s the case. Remove from the heat, keep mixing. Plate the noodles. Add the garnishes. Done. Easy. Hope the weekend is going great. I’m about to eat the leftovers from this post right about now.
Making ramen stock from scratch is a labor intensive process. A traditional pork stock for ramen can take up to 12 hours. I don’t have 12 hours during the day to watch after a stock pot (I have a day job), but nobody said I needed 12 continuous hours. In the course of 2 evenings and the help of my pressure cooker , I was able to render my first batch of homemade pork stock for ramen. I also dreamed of making the noodles at home but without a pasta machine I anticipated disaster so I decided to stop that madness right there. The following recipe was inspired by Kenji Lopez’s: The Food Lab Redux: How to Make the Perfect Bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen. He has an in-depth post with links to more in-depth posts on ramen. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves all things ramen and wants to learn more about it. This is my take. Wish me luck!
oh, one more thing. I’m back on INSTAGRAM! The link on my sidebar has been down for a while, but that’s no longer the case. I will be publishing all the blog photography there from now on (And will also try to get previous photography in there as well). So if you want to get updates, follow me on instagram! And…. back to cooking!
Ingredients (enough ramen soup for 8-10 servings):
2 chicken carcasses/backs (I had homemade chicken stock so I used that, about 3 cups)
2 white onions
16 green onions (white parts only)
4lb pig trotters
1 pound of brown mushrooms
12 garlic cloves
1 small knob of ginger (grated)
3 Tbsp miso paste (the darker kind)
Flavored Eggs :
1 cup water
1 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sugar
Pickled Bamboo Shoots (I couldn’t find menma!):
1 can Canned bamboo shoots
1 tsp Chilli oil
1 tsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp Soy sauce
1 tsp Sesame oil
Pork Belly (Sliced)
2 pounds of pork belly, preferably a meaty section of it.
No extra ingredients here. It’s pork belly, what else do you need.
Other garnishes (to your taste):
bean sprouts (I had kimchi ones, worked just fine)
chopped green onions (green parts only)
Making the stock!:
1. Getting those trotters ready. To prevent the stock from becoming too dark blanch the trotters in boiling water for about 10 min. Rinse in cold water. Remove any traces of dark matter, mainly blood (which will turn dark brown when cooked). Use a paring knife to get the job done. During this process a lot of skim is released. Cool, one less thing to worry about later.
2. Char a couple onions in vegetable oil over high heat. Pretty french thing to do if you ask me. Delivers intense flavor and color into the stock.
3. Caramelize the veggies (leeks, mushrooms, green onions) in some vegetable oil in the stock pot.
4. If you have raw chicken carcasses/backs, roast them in the oven. Don’t let anything burn. Just deep golden brown. You can brush the bones with vegetable oil during the roasting to speed things up.
5. I used chicken stock I had made previously. Use that, or store bought stock is good too.
5. Add the chicken carcasses/backs (or the chicken stock), the caramelized veggies, the onions, the trotters, the garlic and the ginger to a simmering pot. Cover with water and simmer for 12 hours. Or 2 6h sessions, or 3 4h sessions.. i wouldn’t stretch it any further. You could speed things up using a pressure cooker which I did. The stock will become darker due to the higher temperature, but it will be rich and delicious. I added 2/3 Tbsp of sea salt here. I don’t like cooking without salt. Specially in lengthy cooking like this.
7. Strain and discard solids, they’ve served their purpose and contain no flavor anymore. It’s all part of the stock.
8. Flavor the stock with miso and soy sauce to your taste.
9. This stock can be kept in the fridge for a week or so. Frozen… a few months for sure.
Flavoring those eggs!:
1. First of all, we need soft boil eggs. Soft boiling an egg is not an easy thing. There’s way too many variables to control. In my case, I used eggs at room temperature (About 70F). Bring a pot with water to a roiling boil. Gently submerge the eggs in the water. 6 minutes later. Remove the eggs from the water. Place in a bowl under cold running water for a moment. Peel.
2. Add all the ingredients to a jar or a ziplock bag, and place the eggs in. 4 hours later. Eggs should be flavored. Don’t over-marinate.
3. Done. They can stay in the fridge for a few days. Reheat in the ramen broth before eating. Although I don’t care, I’ll eat cold eggs with my ramen, on their own, for a midnight snack…etc.
Pickling the bamboo shoots!:
1. Mixed the ingredients except for the bamboo shoots in a small pot and simmer the mix for a min or so. Add the shoots. Take off the heat. Let them steep for a couple of min. Remove from the pickling liquid. Store in container. They can stay in the fridge for a few days. No rush. Done.
Cooking the pork belly!:
1. I decided I wanted to keep my pork belly away from more ingredients and simmer it in the ramen stock. Simmer the slices of pork belly in the stock for 1 hour if cooking in a regular pot. 30 minutes if cooking in a pressure cooker. Just long enough to break it down and have some of the fat rendered into the ramen stock… it was hard for me to type that last sentence… I just want pork so bad right now.
1. Like I said, I bought them at the store. I got fresh ones at my favorite chinese market (T&T near Olympic Villa in Vancouver), not the dry ones.
2. Boil some water, add some salt. Add the noodles. They will cook really quickly. About a minute or 2. Just keep an eye on them and strain them when they’re ready. It isn’t rocket science.
Putting this whole thing together!:
1. Get your dinner ware ready. Get those bowls out.
2. Place the noodles in those bowls. That’s right.
3. Add a cup of ramen stock to each bowl.
4. Top with a few slices of pork belly.
5. Add the rest of the garnishes.
6. Save the egg for last and with an extremely sharp knife, slice it over the bowl.
8. Distribute bowls of heaven and a some chop sticks.
Geoduck. I wish it looked more like a duck, seriously. The process of cleaning and prepping this giant clam is probably what an alien dissection must be like. Its appearance resembles, well… I don’t need to get all explicit here, the photos tell the story pretty well… But let’s talk about the positive aspects of this ugly fellow, or the one aspect that makes this thing totally worth experiencing. It’s simply delicious. The price is ridiculous though. About $30 per pound, and they are around 3 pounds on average, but pretty good yield. One geoduck can make 5-6 appetizer size portions. Requires no cooking and no seasoning. A wonderful savory flavor and awesome texture.
Geoduck can be hard to find and can be seen on menus at some high-end restaurants. Here in Vancouver, I found live geoducks at the t&t supermarket which isn’t a surprise. If edible, they’ll have it. It’s an insane and wonderful place. Ok, my favorite cooking season of the year is here and this is probably not the right recipe to kick it off with but I work with what I have! There will be stews and roasts coming up soon for sure. Time for some geoduck action! (that just sounds wrong…)
Ingredients (6 appetizer servings):
1 live and fresh geoduck
1 bunch of green onions or chives
Shanti vinegar or tamari and rice vinegar
The preparation is rather simple. Just boil water in a big pot and ready up an ice bath. Plunge the geoduck in the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Remove with tongs. Plunge the geoduck in the ice water immediately. And it’s done. This is the simplest way to instantly kill the clam and loosen the tough skin that covers it. Crack the shell open, and using a sharp knife remove the clam from the shell. Pull the skin off. Here’s a video that shows the whole process if you’re interested.
You can slice the geoduck and plate it at this point. And that’s basically it!!. Until the next one!
It’s been a few months since my last post. It has been a very hot summer here in Vancouver and perhaps that had to do with my not keeping up with cooking or mainly the blogging aspect of that. The cooking hasn’t stopped and neither has taking photos or learning new things in the kitchen though, but finding the energy to gather photos and notes.. and do the write ups… and post has been a little difficult (not to mention that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with chess lately). I’m working on a few new recipes, which I will be posting soon. Last sunday, I visited a very interesting place. The International Summer Night Market in Richmond.
There were about 200 food stands (maybe I’m exaggerating but it felt like there were millions of them) and anything imaginably edible being cooked. The food was phenomenal and the place was packed. I particularly enjoyed the amount of seafood and fish being prepared. The most popular stand in the whole place though was the “rotato” stand. I wish I had taken a photo of it, but it was impossible to get near this thing without getting hurt by the hungry hordes. And if you haven’t seen a rotato (which I hadn’t until then) It’s basically… potato chips.I love it. Here are some of the photos I managed to take without dropping my phone in a vat of frying oil. It almost happened a couple times actually. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested in learning more about this market: http://www.summernightmarket.com