Monday, February 23, 2015

Chinese Buckwheat Vermicelli Noodles with Spicy Pork Meatballs and Surimi

     A Fancy Broth And Noodle EntrĂ©e  
     Is it a bowl of noodles or a soup?  Noodles are almost always not just served plain in Asia.  The most common way that noodles are served in Asia is in a bowl with a generous portion of broth.

     There are specific names for certain noodle and broth combinations.  There are specific names for certain traditional Chinese soups made with buckwheat noodles.  More often than not, at a noodle house restaurant a generic name is applied.
     For example, a noodle menu item might simply read as "Buckwheat Vermicelli with Pork Balls and Surimi."  Another item might read as "Ramen Noodles with Fish Head."  Either way, customers know that the noodles and accompanying ingredients will be served in a large bowl with broth.  The broth might even be garnished with herbs, spices and vegetables that add a signature touch.
     Noodle house restaurant menu items are written with a simple description for a good reason, because there can be over 100 different noodle bowl offerings on the menu!  House specialties and traditional noodle recipes that have a specific name are also included in the menu mix of offerings.
     If one can imagine a cook in a busy noodle house trying to negotiate 50 food orders at one time, it becomes easy to see why "the simpler, the better" is a good menu writing style.  When a cook sees an order for "Buckwheat Noodles with Pork Balls and Surimi," the cook knows which broth is best for the application, a few garnishes are added, then bam!  The noodle bowl is finished and off it goes to the customer.
     Noodle house cooking is about as fast as professional cooking can be, because noodle houses get swamped with tons of customers shortly before noon.  Busy noodle house cooks are lightning fast and they have to be that way just to keep up with the pace.  Just about the only American cuisine style that requires lightning fast cooks can be found at a busy breakfast restaurant.

     The pork meat balls for today's noodle recipe were made with fresh minced pork.  Pre-made frozen pork balls are what many busy noodle house chefs use.  Pork balls are available in Asian food markets.  Asian style pork balls are a good product and they are a nice convenience for busy people that have limited time for cooking at home.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 big noodle bowl serving!
     Spicy Pork Meatballs:
     Step 1:  Place 3 ounces of ground pork in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese chile powder.  (Chile Japon or Cayenne Pepper)
     Add sea salt and white pepper.  
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Roll small portions of the ground pork mixture into tiny meatball shapes that are about the size of an acorn. 
     Step 3:  Bring 4 cups of water to a gentle boil over medium high heat.
     Place the pork meatballs in the boiling water.
     Boil the meatballs, till they become firm and fully cooked.
     Remove the meatballs from the hot water and set them aside.
     Chinese Buckwheat Vermicelli Noodles:
     Cook 1 portion of Chinese vermicelli buckwheat noodles in boiling water, till they become tender.
     Use a pasta net to remove the noodles from the pot.
     Shock the noodles in ice water, while stirring, to give the noodles a firm texture.
     Drain the water off of the noodles and set them aside.
     Chinese Buckwheat Vermicelli Noodles with Spicy Pork Meatballs and Surimi:
     Fancy surimi can be found in Asian food markets.  There are many sizes, shapes and colors to choose from.  Surimi is the real name for what many people call imitation crab meat.  Surimi is gelled cooked fish meal and it is ready to eat.  
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Saute for about 5 seconds, so the garlic and ginger become aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 3 cups of light chicken broth.
     Bring the broth to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add the reserved pork meatballs.
     Add 5 thin slices of daikon radish.
     Add 6 to 8 thin slices of peeled lotus root.
     Add 6 to 8 thin slices of carrot.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 teaspoon of Korean Red Serrano Chile Pepper Paste or 1/2 teaspoon of mild sambal.
     Step 3:  Boil the soup, till the hard vegetables are cooked al dente.  About 2 1/3 cups of broth should remain.  Add a splash of water if too little broth remains.
     Step 4:  Add 3 or 4 thin slices of fancy surimi.  (About 2 ounces.)
     Take the pot off the heat.
     Pour the hot soup into a large soup bowl.
     Place the reserved buckwheat noodles in the center of the soup.  Use tongs to dunk the noodles in the hot broth to reheat them.
     Try to place some of the ingredients of the soup around the noodles in the broth, so they can be seen.
     Add a few very thin slices of onion to the broth.
     Add a few bite size green onion pieces to the broth.
     Add 3 thin julienne sliced snow peas to the hot broth.
     Place a generous amount of fresh cilantro leaves on the edge of the soup bowl.
     This is a nice healthy bowl of noodles for warming up a chilly day!     

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