Friday, June 9, 2017

Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Fried Tofu, Vegetables and Egg Sauce







     Healthy, Savory and Delicious!
     Fuzhou Noodles are made with a special kind of flour from Fuzhou, China.  The water that is used to make Fuzhou noodles has a high lye content.  The lye adds an interesting flavor to the noodles and it creates an elastic texture.
     This recipe is not made in the style of Fuzhou cuisine, but this entrée does have gentle flavors.  Fuzhou is one of the 4 cuisines of the Fujian Cuisine category.  Fujian Cuisine is one of the 8 major Chinese Cuisines.  Overall, Fujian cuisine is known for light gentle flavors that feature umami taste sensations.  Light sweet sour flavors are also part of Fujian cuisine.  Egg sauces are not really in this cuisine category, but the gentle savory flavor does fit in with the theme.
     Today's tofu and Fuzhou noodle recipe features an egg sauce that has a light savory flavor.  Egg sauces have a high nutritional value and nutrients in the yolks help to improve eyesight.  The tofu is egg washed and pan fried then added to the entrée as a featured garnish.  Tofu can be pan fried with no batter coating, so skipping the batter coating step is an option for those that prefer traditional Chinese style fried tofu.
 
     Batter Fried Tofu:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Cut 2 thick rectangular slices of Firm Tofu that measure 2" x 4" x 3/8" thick.
     Cut the 2 rectangle tofu pieces into 4 triangle shapes.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/4" deep.
     Adjust the temperature so the oil is 350ºF.
     Step 3:  Dredge the tofu triangles in flour.
     Dip the tofu in egg wash.
     Pan fry the egg dipped tofu triangles till they are a light golden brown color on both sides.
     Step 4:  Remove the fried tofu triangles from the pan and set them on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan.
     Keep the Batter Fried Tofu warm on a stove top.
   
 
     Lucky Fuzhou Noodles with Fried Tofu, Vegetables and Egg Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 large entrée that can be shared by 2 guests.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling on a back burner for cooking the Fuzhou Noodles later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Place 1 1/2 cups of light chicken broth in a container.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside and stir again before adding it later in the recipe.
     Step 3:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Briefly stir fry for a few seconds till the garlic and ginger become aromatic.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 cup of thin sliced celery.
     Add 1/4 cup of sliced Button Cave Mushrooms.
     Add 1/4 cup of large diced red bell pepper.
     Add 1/4 cup of large diced green bell pepper
     Add 1/4 cup of large green onion pieces.
     Add 1/3 cup of sliced onion.
     Add 1/3 cup of small broccoli florets.
     Add 1/3 cup of asparagus tips.
     Add 1/2 cup of chopped cabbage.
     Step 5:  Stir fry the vegetables till they are a little more than halfway cooked and still crisp.  (al dente)
     Step 6:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.
     Bring the sauce to a boil while stirring.
     Stir till the sauce thickens.
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Push the vegetables to one side of the pan.
     Slowly stream 1 whisked large egg across the exposed sauce in the pan.  Try to create long thin ribbons of egg.
     Toss the egg sauce and vegetables together in the pan.
     Step 8:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce and vegetables warm.
     Step 9:  Place 1 portion of Fuzhou Noodles in the pot of boiling water.  (The thin Fuzhou Noodles will fully cook in just a few seconds!)
     Boil till the Fuzhou Noodles are tender.
     Step 10:  Use a fine mesh strainer to drain the water off of the noodles.
     Place the Fuzhou Noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil to the noodles while tossing.
     Keep the noodles warm on a stove top.
 
     Presentation:
     Mound the Fuzhou Noodles on the center of a plate.
     Spoon the vegetables and egg sauce on the plate around the noodles.
     Place the Batter Fried Tofu Triangles on top of the vegetables and Fuzhou Noodles.
     Pour any extra sauce in the pan over the tofu.
 
     Fuzhou Noodles bring good luck!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly









     Tasty Spicy Coconut Milk Curry!
     Boiling or simmering food in coconut milk is an old Thai and Malaysian cooking style.  This cooking technique is used for making many Thai Curry recipes.  The finished sauce can be simmered and reduced till it becomes thick or it can be served thin and soupy.  The coconut milk can also be simmered till it becomes coconut oil, so the ingredients can be gently stir fried.  As one can see, a variety of textures can be achieved when using coconut milk.    
     Thin broth coconut milk style Thai Curries tend to be delicate in flavor.  A coconut milk curry that is simmered till it is thick will have a richer flavor, which works well when pork is the featured ingredient.  The problem is that not all coconut milk products will thicken when simmered and reduced.  
     Depending on the brand name, canned coconut milk can vary in consistency.  Shelf stable cartons of coconut milk tend to be emulsified and they are much thicker than canned coconut milk.   Dried coconut milk powder is an option too and it is easy to adjust the consistency with the amount of powder added to water.  Overall, it is best to stick with a coconut milk product that you are familiar with, so no surprises occur when preparing a recipe.
     Fresh Galangal (Thai blue ginger) really makes a big difference, when making a Thai style coconut milk curry.  Dried Galangal Powder does not pack the same punch.  The flavor of today's Thai curry has an unforgettably good long lasting fresh Galangal flavor.  
     Making home-made Thai Green Curry Paste is not difficult to do, but purchasing this product is a nice convenience.  Many chefs prefer to use pre-packaged Thai Curry Pastes.  One container of Thai Curry Paste can flavor plenty of food, so it is a good deal.  
     It is not only green chile peppers that gives Thai Green Curry Paste its green color.  Small Thai Green Eggplant actually are the base of the recipe.  Some pre-made packaged Thai Green Curry Paste products have Green Eggplant in the list of ingredients and some do not.  For today's recipe, try to select a Green Curry Paste product that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.

     Wood Ear Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
     Wood ear mushrooms are sometimes call Cow's Ear Fungus.  Wood Ear Mushrooms have many health benefits.  
     Step 1:  Place about 6 to 8 dried wood ear mushrooms in a container of water.  
     Soak the mushrooms overnight in a refrigerator to reconstitute them.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the mushrooms.
     Cut the mushrooms into bite size pieces and set them aside.

     Sticky Rice:
     Boil or steam 1 portion of sticky rice and keep it warm on a stove top. 

     Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée that can be shared by 2 guests. 
     Fresh Galangal does take a while to become tender when it is simmered, so it must be added early in the recipe. 
     For this recipe, select a Thai Green Curry Paste that has eggplant in the list of ingredients.  The volume of the container will be much larger than one that contains no eggplant.
     Step 1:  Select a 5 ounce to 6 ounce piece of meaty pork belly.  
     Remove the skin if it is attached.  (Save the skin for making cracklins!)
     Cut the pork belly into thin bite size slices.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1 fresh lemongrass shoot that is tied in a simple knot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh Galangal (Thai Blue Ginger)
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add the reserved pork belly pieces.
     Add the reserved wood ear mushroom pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste. 
     Add 1 minced green Thai Chile Pepper.  (Optional.  Only add the chile pepper if a spicy hot flavor is preferred.) 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Add 1 fresh Kaffir Lime Leaf that is cut into thin strips.  (Optional.  Kaffir Lime Leaves are not always available.)
     Add 1 teaspoon of Palm Sugar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. 
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 cup of rich coconut milk.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lime juice.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 5:  Keep the curry warm over very low heat.
     Remove and discard the lemongrass knot before serving. 
     
     Presentation:
     Use a tall cup mold to place a portion of sticky rice in a shallow bowl.
     Ladle the Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly in the bowl around the rice. 
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the rice and curry.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of toasted shredded coconut over the rice and curry.

     The savory flavor and aroma of Thai Green Curry Wood Ear Mushrooms and Pork Belly is nice!  This spicy curry is a good summer entrée, because it helps to be the heat!  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with Black Sesame Rice and Chile Garlic Bok Choy






     Hunan BBQ!
     Hunan Barbecue Sauce is a variation of Char Siu BBQ Sauce.  The spice flavors are a bit more pronounced in Hunan Barbecue Sauce and red food color is always added.  Hunan Barbecue Sauce is best for pork, chicken and seafood.  This traditional barbecue sauce glazes the meat with plenty of good flavor!
     Lap Cheong os a cured sweet pork sausage that is dried by the wind.  Lap Cheong is highly seasoned and it is flavored with aromatic items like soy sauce and rose water.  Lap Cheong is very firm and dense, so it is best to simmer this sausage till it starts to become soft, before using it for a barbecue skewer recipe.
     Modern BBQ entrées look best when presented with some stylish flair.  Leaning the skewers on a mound of fancy rice adds height to the presentation.  Placing a bed of vegetables on the plate adds interesting color.      
 
     Hunan BBQ Sauce: 
     This recipe yields a little more than 1 cup.
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a sauce pot.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil till the clear sugar syrup is a thin consistency that can lightly glaze a spoon.  (The finished volume will be about 2/3 cup.)
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of Hoisin Sauce.
     Add 2 tablespoons of honey.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
     Add 1 or 2 pinches of Chinese Hot Red Chile Powder.  (to taste)
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.  (2 to 3 pinches)
     Step 4:  *Brands of Food Color vary in strength.  Only enough food color should be added to give the sauce a translucent red color!
     Add about 3 to 6 drops of red food color while stirring with a whisk.
     Step 5:  Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that can easily glaze a spoon.
     Step 6:  Place the Hunan BBQ Sauce in a container.
     Set the sauce aside or chill it for later use.

     Black Sesame Rice:
     This recipe yields 3 to 4 portions.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 clove of chopped garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of black sesame seeds.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of Dried Sticky White Rice.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Gently simmer and steam till the rice is fully cooked.  (About 20 minutes,)
     Keep the Black Sesame Rice warm on a stove top or in a 135ºF bain marie.
 
     Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers: 
     This recipe yields 2 skewers.  (1 portion)
     Chinese Lap Cheong is a very hard dry cure sausage.  Even after simmering, the sausage texture will be firm.
     Step 1:  Soak 2 bamboo skewers (10" length) in a container of water for 1 hour.
     Step 2:  Cut 6 slices of Chinese Lap Cheong Sausage that are about 3/8" thick.
     Place the sausage slices in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the sausage.
     Place the pot over medium low heat.
     Simmer till the sausage slices start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Set the sausage slices aside and let them cool to room temperature.
     Step 4:  Peel and devein 10 large shrimp.  (Leave the tails on.)
     Step 5:  Place equal amounts of the shrimp and sausage pieces on the 2 bamboo skewers.
     Step 6:  Place the 2 Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers on a roasting pan.
     Lightly brush the skewers with vegetable oil.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Set the pan with the skewers aside or chill them for later use.
 
     Chile Garlic Bok Choy: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Adding some spicy hot chile powder to the Bok Choy creates a flavor that compliments the Hunan BBQ.
     Step 1:  Place 1 quart of water in a sauce pot.
     Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
     Step 2:  Cut 5 Baby Bok Choy in half lengthwise.
     Place the Bok Choy in the boiling water.
     Blanch for 1 minute, so the Bok Choy are cooked al dente.
     Step 3:  Remove the blanched Bok Choy from the hot water and set them aside.
     Step 4:  Heat a mini wok (or wide sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic.
     Sauté till the garlic turna a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add the blanched Baby Bok Choy halves.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste (sambal).
     Sauté and toss the ingredients together for one minute.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Chile Garlic Bok Choy warm on a stove top.
     
     Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with Black Sesame Rice and Chile Garlic Bok Choy: 
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Heat a broiler to a moderate temperature.
     Place the broiler pan with the skewers under the broiler.
     Broil till the shrimp are halfway cooked.
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the broiler.
     Brush the Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers with the Hunan BBQ Sauce.
     Finish broiling the skewers till the shrimp are fully cooked.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the broiler.
     Brush the skewers with the Hunan BBQ Sauce one last time before serving.
     Step 4:  Use a 3" diameter ring mold to place a portion of the Black Sesame Rice on the back half of a plate.
     Place a bed of the Chile Garlic Bok Choy on the plate, so it fans out from the rice.
     Step 5:  Place the 2 Hunan BBQ Shrimp and Lap Cheong Sausage Skewers on the bed of Bok Choy and criss-cross the ends of the skewers on top of the rice mound.

     This is an exciting looking plate of Hunan BBQ that tastes great!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lemon Ginger Asparagus and King Trumpet Mushroom with Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles








     Light and Delicious!
     Today's noodle entrée is not vegetarian because the sauce is made with chicken broth.  Lemon and chicken broth is a classic flavor combination that cannot be duplicated with vegetable broth.  Ginger makes the lemon chicken broth sauce taste even more appealing.
     King Trumpet Mushrooms are in the Oyster Mushroom family.  When eating most mushrooms in the Oyster Mushroom family, it is best to not consume alcohol or illness will likely occur.  King Trumpet Mushrooms contain only a trace of the chemical that reacts with alcohol, so having a fermented beverage with the meal will do no harm.
     King Trumpet Mushrooms have a very long shelf life when they are refrigerated.  I purchased 3 fresh large King Trumpet Mushrooms and immediately used two of them to make a couple of recipes.  The third King Mushroom sat in the refrigerator for more than one month and it still looked as fresh as the day it was purchased.  This is not a fluke occurrence, because King Mushrooms have a reputation for being durable.

     Lemon Ginger Asparagus and King Mushroom with Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 noodle entrée.
     The vegetables and sauce can be prepared while the noodles boil.  Be sure to have all the ingredients ready ahead of time.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 cup of rice wine (Sake) in a container.
     Add 3/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the sauce mixture aside.
     *Stir the sauce mixture again before adding it later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Start cooking 1 portion of Tapioca Thread Glass Noodles in a pot of boiling water over high heat.
     Step 3:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 3/4 cup of thin sliced King Trumpet Mushroom.
     Stir fry till the mushroom starts to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 8 asparagus that are cut into spears and tender stalk pieces.  (Discard the tough fibrous stalk ends.)
     Add 1 bias sliced green onion white section.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.  
     Stir fry till the asparagus starts to become tender.
     Step 5:  Add the reserved sauce mixture.
     Bring the liquid to a boil and stir as the sauce thickens.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat till the noodles are ready.
     Step 7:  When the Tapioca Thread Noodles are tender, drain the water off of the noodles.
     Step 8:  Mound the Tapioca Thread Noodles on the center of an oval plate.
     Spoon the asparagus, King Mushroom and lemon ginger sauce on the border of the plate around the noodles.
     No garnish is necessary!
 
     This is a nice tasting entrée and the Glass Noodles create eye appeal!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Salmon, Vegetable and Thai Basil Rice Paper Roll





     A Healthy Light Lunch or Appetizer!
     Rice Paper Rolls are a nice snack that also can be served as a light lunch.  Rice Paper Rolls are usually filled with a high proportion of vegetables and herbs, so they highly nutritious.  When meat or seafood is added, only a small amount is needed.  An 8 ounce salmon filet can feed four people when it is used to make rice paper rolls.
     Vietnamese cuisine requires a wide variety of fresh herbs.  Just about any combination of Vietnamese herbs can be used to flavor a Seafood Rice Paper Roll.  Thai Basil has a gentle basil flavor and it adds a fresh garden herb flavor to today's Salmon Rice Paper Roll.  The vegetables for a Rice Paper Roll can be fresh or lightly cooked.  Briefly stir frying or steaming guarantees that the vegetables will still have a crisp bite.
     Sheet of Culinary Rice Paper come in all shapes and sizes.  Basically, the paper thin sheets are made with rice starch.  Rice Paper is very easy to work with and all it takes is soaking a sheet of rice paper in a shallow pan of hot water to reconstitute it.  The countertop surface should be dampened when assembling a Rice Paper Roll, because moist Rice Paper will stick to a dry surface like glue.    

     Salmon:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Select a 3 ounce piece of salmon filet.
     Cut the filet into 2 long strips that are less than 1/2" wide.
     Lightly season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the 2 salmon strips.
     Sauté till the salmon is fully cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the salmon strips warm on a stove top.
 
     Vegetables:
     This recipe yields enough for 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 4 thin red bell pepper strips.  (3/16" wide)
     Add 4 Yellow Squash Strips.  (Remove the seed marrow.)
     Add 1/3 cup of Mung Bean Sprouts.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Briefly sauté till the vegetables just start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Toss the ingredients together till the spinach leaves start to wilt.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the vegetables on a platter.
     Keep platter warm on a stove top.

     Salmon, Vegetable and Thai Basil Rice Paper Roll:
     This recipe yields 1 Rice Paper Roll.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot of water to about 150ºF.  
     Step 2:  Select a 12" diameter round rice paper sheet.
     Place a shallow pan that is wider than the rice paper sheet on a countertop.
     Place the rice paper sheet in the pan.
     Pour hot water over the rice paper sheet.
     Soak the rice paper till it becomes reconstituted and soft.
     Step 3:  Dampen a countertop with a sprinkle of water.
     Place the soft rice paper sheet on the wet countertop.
     Step 4:  Place the 2 salmon strips across center of the rice paper.
     Place 5 or 6 fresh Thai Basil Leaves over the salmon.
     Evenly mound the prepared vegetables over the salmon strips.  Arrange the vegetables so they point lengthwise, like the salmon.
     Step 5:  Fold the ends of the rice paper over the ends of the row of salmon and vegetables.
     Roll the rice paper up to make a sealed cylinder shape.  (Just like rolling an Egg Roll.)
     Let the rice paper roll dry for a few minutes, to the seal does not come apart.
   
     Presentation:
     Step 1:  Bias slice the rice paper roll in half.
     Set the rice paper roll halves against each other on a plate, so one half stands tall.
     Step 2:  Garnish the plate with accompaniments of your choice.
     *The plate in the photos was garnished with Steamed Asparagus Spears, Daikon Radish Kimchi, Cabbage Kimchi, Korean Style Red Serrano Chile Sauce and Hoisin Sauce.
     Garnish with a Thai Basil sprig.
  
     This is a tasty healthy Rice Paper Roll!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl with Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini and Persian Preserved Lemon










     A Persian Arabic Gourmet Ramen Flavor!
     Ramen Noodles are a medium that allows a modern chef to create some great flavor combinations that are not bound by tradition.  All it takes is a little bit of imagination to extend Ramen creativity to new frontiers.  
     Selecting an odd item at a food market is a good way to trigger Ramen creativity.  For example, purchasing a can of Vienna Sausage triggers memories of packing a can in a tackle box, just in case a snack is needed when going on a fishing trip.  The memory inspires a thought process that results in creating a Ramen Noodle Bowl that has a fishing trip snack food theme.  Viola!  A Fisherman's Survival Kit Ramen Noodle Bowl recipe idea is born!  
     Today, I was thinking of how relatively few people outside of Iran know that mushrooms are part of many traditional Persian recipes.  Many westerners only picture Middle East countries as having harsh desert climates.  In reality, the opposite is true.  The climate is as diverse as the cultures of people that live there.  Eastern Iran is a prime mushroom foraging area.  Mushroom cultivation also is a big business in that country and there are thousands of tasty traditional Persian mushroom recipes that can be found on the internet.  These thoughts were on my mind when I left to go shopping at a grocery store.  
     After returning from the grocery store with a few odd items consisting of a package of Ramen Noodles and a handful of mushrooms, I took a look at what else was on hand in the kitchen.  I thought to myself that I really needed to use up some Arabic spices and the last bit of sesame paste in a jar sometime soon before these items go bad.  All of a sudden something clicked.  Why not make a Middle Eastern style Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl.  It seemed like a good idea and it might inspire readers to look into traditional Persian mushroom recipes.  Go with it!
      Since all international cuisines were part of my formal culinary arts education at Le Cordon Bleu, it was relatively easy to set the Persian Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl idea into motion.  What I ended up with, was a great tasting vegetarian Ramen Noodle bowl that had a nice Persian Arabic flavor combination.  Fenugreek Leaves have an aromatic maple flavor.  Black Caraway Seed has a very nice roasted onion and cumin flavor.  The sprinkle of Sumac Berry Spice tops off the entrée with a lemony red wine flavor.  Persian Preserved Lemon has a mellow tart flavor that lightens the rich Sesame Seed Paste Sauce on the palate.   
     Tahini is Sesame Seed Paste.  Tahini Sauce has many ingredients added to create a traditional sauce flavor.  Unflavored Sesame Paste is needed for today's recipe, so look for a jar that says Tahini, not Tahini Sauce.  By the way, a jar of Tahini at a Mediterranean food market costs less than half the price at an average grocery store.  A vast array of North African and Middle Eastern spices can also be found at a Mediterranean food market.  
     Peanut butter is used to thicken certain stew sauces in Africa and the Philippines.  Tahini can be used the same way.  Any nut seed paste will readily absorb liquid and a little bit of Tahini goes a long way.  When a little bit of Tahini is added to a portion of broth, the liquid will quickly thicken to a sauce consistency after a few minutes.  A Tahini thickened sauce looks creamy, like a milk or yogurt sauce.  Be careful not to add too much Tahini or the sauce will have to be diluted several times. 

     Mushrooms en Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (About 1 1/3 cups)
     All the spices in this recipe can be found in a Mediterranean food market.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling over medium high heat, so the ramen noodles can be cooked later in the recipe!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1 cup of Button Cave Mushrooms that are cut into small wedges.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender and lightly brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Sauté till the onion turns clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 3 pinches of Black Caraway Seeds.  (A little more than 1/4 teaspoon.)
     Sauté for about 10 seconds, so the Black Caraway becomes aromatic.
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 cups of light vegetable broth.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of crushed dried Fenugreek Leaves.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.  (optional)
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add enough Tahini (unflavored sesame paste), while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a very thin consistency.  About 1 tablespoon to 1 1/2 tablespoons is enough.  
     *Tahini absorbs a lot of water quickly, so add a little bit of tahini at a time, till the sauce thickens to the correct consistency.
     Step 7:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil. 
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  Stir the sauce occasionally.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     
     Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl with Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini and Persian Preserved Lemon:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Ramen Noodles in the pot of boiling water till they are tender. 
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Step 2:  Mound the Ramen Noodles in the center of a shallow noodle bowl.
     Spoon a little bit of the Mushrooms en Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini Sauce over the Ramen Noodles.
     Pour the remaining sauce and mushrooms around the noodles on the border of the bowl.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of Sumac Berry Spice over the noodles.
     Place about 1 tablespoon of small chopped red bell pepper on the center of the noodles.
     Place 2 thick slices of Persian Preserved Lemon on the noodles.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion slivers over the noodles.

     Viola!  Persian Arabic flavor gourmet Ramen Noodles! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles







     A Classic Flavor Combination!
     For many people, marinate can be a confusing term.  When some people hear the word marinate, they picture something soaking in a flavored liquid for several hours, but that is not usually the rule of thumb in Asian cuisines.  Many Chinese, Korean and Japanese recipes only require marinating meats for a minute or two, which is just long enough to slightly increase flavor.
     Chinese chefs use a technique of combining all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including the corn starch, before the stir fry begins.  The vegetables and meat are stir fried and the uncooked marinade is added to create the sauce.  Not one drop of food is wasted when using this cooking technique and the food is cooked in a matter of minutes.  Being able to cook quickly is essential in a busy Chinese restaurant.
     Often a featured item, like thin sliced beef, is marinated in the cold sauce mixture before the cooking starts.  The meat is removed from the sauce after briefly marinating, then it is stir fried.  The cornstarch in the cold marinade creates a velvety coating on the meat after it is briefly stir fried and the rest of the sauce mixture is added.  This technique is called "Velveting" and it takes good timing to master.  Stir frying for too much time or boiling the sauce for too long will cause the velvety coating to disappear.
     Udon Noodles originated in China.  They were introduced to Japan during the Edo period of history.  Udon have a different name in China, but the Japanese name of these noodles is what most people recognize in modern times.
     Today's Udon Noodle recipe only takes about three minutes to cook!  This recipe is cooked quickly over a high flame.  The ingredients cook so quickly, that the flavors remain crisp and bright tasting.  The main thing to remember when cooking a fast pace recipe, is to treat the noodles gently once they are added to the sauce in the pan or they will break apart.  A Chinese wok spatula is perfect for tossing the noodles with the sauce.  Never breaking a noodle is a hallmark of a great Chinese chef!
 
     Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Prepared Udon Noodles are a convenient product.  Vacuum sealed packages of pre-cooked Udon Noodles are available in Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling, so the pre-cooked Udon Noodles can be reheated later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Select a 3/4" thick piece of beef top round steak.
     Place the steak on a cutting board.
     Hold the knife at a 35º to 40º angle to the cutting board and cut the beef into wide ribbon slices that are about 3/16" thick.  (About 4 ounces will be needed for this recipe.)
     Step 3:  Place the portion of thin sliced beef in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 2 tablespoons of rice wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth.
     Add 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice.
     Step 4:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add a few long thin strips of fresh orange zest.  (About 1/2 teaspoon in volume.)
     Add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the bowl aside and let the beef marinate for 5 minutes.
     Step 5:  Cut 1 1/2 tablespoons of small diced carrot and set it aside.
     Cut 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion top and set it aside.
     Place 1 portion of Udon Noodles in a pasta net and set it aside.
     Step 6:  Heat a mini wok (or sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Remove the beef from the marinade and set the marinade aside.
     Add the beef it to the hot oil.
     Stir fry till the beef is almost fully cooked and a few brown highlights appear.  (This step only takes less than one minute!)
     Step 7:  Remove the stir fried beef from the pan and set it aside on a platter.
     Pour the excess oil out of the pan into a container.
     Step 8:  Return the pan to medium/medium high heat.
     Return the beef to the pan.
     Add the reserved diced carrots.
     Stir fry till the carrots become aromatic.  (About 10 seconds.)
     Step 9:  Add the reserved marinade.
     Bring the sauce to a boil.
     Boil till the cornstarch turns clear and the sauce thickens to a medium thin consistency.
     Step 10:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat and keep the Ginger Orange Beef warm.
     Step 11:  Use the pasta net to dip the portion of Udon Noodles in the boiling water till they are hot.
     Use the pasta net to drain the water off of the noodles.
     Add the hot noodles to the Ginger Orange Beef in the pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 12:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Mound the Ginger Orange Beef Udon Noodles on the center of a plate.  Try to expose the slices of beef around the surface of the noodles.
     Pour any remaining sauce over the noodles.
     Sprinkle the reserved sliced green onion tops over the noodles.
 
     Chinese stir fry techniques will keep a cook constantly moving.  The flavors of soy, ginger and orange are perfect with beef and noodles!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Enoki, Mung Bean Sprouts and Ham Egg Foo Young with Red Chile Sauce






     Egg Foo Young!
     There are many Egg Foo Young recipe variations.  The most basic is a flat omelette that is flavored with ham.  Many kinds of vegetables and just about any kind of meat or seafood can be added to Egg Foo Young.  The Egg Foo Young batter can be made with only eggs and it can also be enriched with flour or cornstarch to create a firm pancake texture.  Egg Foo Young can be served dry or it can be smothered with sauce.  Egg Foo Young can even be garnished with fancy toppings.  Egg Foo Young can be made as small as a silver dollar or as large as a dinner plate.  As one can see, there is more than one Egg Foo Young!    
     Today's recipe is a large Egg Foo Young that has a little kick from the spicy Red Chile Sauce.  A big Egg Foo Young like this will satisfy a big appetite, but it can also be shared by guests when served during a multi course meal.  The Mung Bean Sprouts and Enoki Mushrooms are sandwiched in the center of the egg batter, instead of simply being mixed with the eggs from the start.     
 
     Red Chile Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 cup.
     The level of spicy heat is fairly mild.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly sauté till the garlic and ginger becomes aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of raw sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean style Coarse Ground Red Serrano Chile Paste (sambal).
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of water to make a slurry.
     Add the slurry while stirring with a whisk to thicken the sauce.
     Bring the sauce back to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.  (Add a little water if the sauce becomes too thick.)
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the sauce warm till the Egg Foo Young is ready.
    
     Enoki, Mung Bean Sprouts and Ham Egg Foo Young with Red Chile Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 large Egg Foo Young entrée.  (1 or 2 portions)
     Western style cooking techniques are used to make this big Egg Foo Young.
     *Have all the ingredients ready before starting the stir fry and Egg Foo Young!
     Step 1:  Heat a mini wok (or wide sauté pan) over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced ham.  (Julienne = 1/8" x 1/8" x 3".)
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Add 2/3 cup of Mung Bean Sprouts.
     Add 6 snow peas that are julienne sliced.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Stir fry till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 1 small bunch of trimmed whole Enoki Mushrooms.  (About 1/3 cup.)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Briefly stir fry till the ingredients are mixed together.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat, while the vegetables are still slightly crisp (al dente).
     Set the pan of stir fry vegetables and ham aside.
     Step 4:  Place 3 large eggs in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
     Whisk the ingredients till they are blended and foamy.
     Step 5:  Heat a non-stick wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Pour 1/2 of the whisked egg mixture into the hot pan.
     Evenly spread the stir fry vegetable and ham mixture on top of the loose egg batter.
     Sauté till the bottom half eggs are cooked firm, but not browned.
     Step 6:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Pour the remaining egg batter over the vegetables and ham in the pan.
     Step 7:  Place the sauté pan in a 350ºF oven.
     Bake the Egg Foo Young till the egg batter is fully cooked and golden highlights appear.
     Step 8:  *This step is optional.  By flipping the Egg Foo Young, the surface of the eggs will look smoother.
     Remove the pan from the oven.
     Slide the large Egg Foo Young onto a sheet pan.
     Place a large serving plate over the Egg Foo Young.
     Invert the plate and sheet pan together as one.
     Remove the sheet pan and the smooth side of the Egg Foo Young will be facing up!
     Step 9:  Pour a generous amount of the Red Chile Sauce the Egg Foo Young and onto the plate.  (About 2/3 cup to 1 cup.)
     Place a few fresh Enoki Mushrooms on top of the Egg Foo Young as a garnish.  (The heat of the eggs and sauce is enough to cook the tiny enoki mushrooms.)  
  
     This is a nice big Egg Foo Young that has plenty of flavor!