Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ramen Noodles, Fried Ikan Bilis and Wakame en Black Vinegar Red Sauce

     A Fusion Of Healthy Flavors In A Gourmet Ramen Bowl!  
     Anchovies of any kind are not well received by the majority of people in Europe and the Americas.  The reason that anchovies tend to turn people off is obvious.  Low quality, fishy smelling, salty, canned anchovies are not pleasant on the palate.  After tasting low quality canned anchovies once, the awful flavor is enough to make a person say no to anchovies for the rest of their life.
     High quality European canned anchovies are a different story.  Top of the line canned anchovy filets are featured in Italian cuisine, French cuisine and Mediterranean cuisine.  Good canned anchovies are not fishy smelling.  They are pleasantly salty and they have a nice mild umami flavor.  If more people experienced good quality canned anchovies when tasting them for the first time, then anchovies would be far more popular.

     Ikan Bilis are Malaysian style Dun Dried Anchovies.  Sun Dried Anchovies are called Iriko in Japan.  Sun Dried Anchovies are not salty and the fishy aroma is fairly tame.  Crispy Fried Sun Dried Anchovies are a popular snack in Southeast Asia. 

     Aquaculture will eventually feed nearly all seafood consumers as time goes on.  Many farm raised salt water fish, like farm raised Sea Bass, are fed Sun Dried Anchovy meal.  Anchovy depletion is causing a chain reaction in the ocean ecosystem food chain that affects populations of rockfish, snapper and many other small predator fish.  
     Why feed one farm raised fish the food that several other fish species depend upon?  Why eat farm raised sea bass at all?  Why not eat Sun Dried Anchovies instead!  
     To put things in perspective, it takes several big buckets of anchovies to raise one farm raise small sea bass.  It takes 1 handful of anchovies to feed 1 person for 1 day.  Ecologically speaking, not eating farmed sea bass and eating anchovies makes sense.   
     By not demanding farm raised sea bass and by eating sun dried anchovies instead, an entire ecosystem of wild oceanic fish will increase in numbers.  It sure would be nice to be able to publish red snapper recipes in the future once again!  
     Not all farmed fish cause depletion of feed stock.  Knowing the facts before purchasing certain species of farmed fish require taking the time to do a little research.  Obviously, the best farmed fish to purchase is a farmed fish species that is not picky about what it eats.  Farmed freshwater fish, like catfish and trout are currently the best choices to curb the trend of ocean fish depletion.  

     Salt Packed Dried Wakame Preparation:
     Salt packed wakame seaweed is actually a fresh product.  The wakame is actually is still alive.  This style of wakame reconstitutes quickly and it becomes very large after soaking.
     Step 1:  Rinse a 7" long piece of salt packed dried wakame under cold running water.  
     Soak the wakame in a container of water, till it reconstitutes.  (About 25 minutes.)
     Cut the reconstituted wakame into large bite size pieces.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of shrimp broth.
     Add 2 cups of water. 
     Add the wakame.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Keep the wakame warm on a stove top till later in the recipe.
     Fried Ikan Bilis:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add enough vegetable oil, so the oil is about 1/4" deep.
     Add about 3/4 cup of small sun dried anchovy.  (ikan bilis)
     Pan fry the sun dried anchovies till they are crispy golden brown.  (CGB!)
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat..
     Remove the fried sun dried anchovies from the pan and place them in a strainer over a drip pan.
     Season the ikan bilis with sea salt and white pepper.
     Keep the ikan bilis warm on a stove top.

     Ramen Noodles: 
     Shocking ramen noodles is a traditional method for creating a chewy texture.  
     Step 1:  Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of ramen noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked and tender.
     Step 2:  Use a pasta net to gather the noodles.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Step 3:  Place the noodles in a bowl of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they feel like they have a firm chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the noodles aside.

     Black Vinegar Red Sauce:
     Chinkiang Vinegar (Chinese Black Vinegar) can be found in Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Sauté for a few seconds, till the ingredients become aromatic.
     Step 2:  Add 3/4 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1 cup of shrimp broth.  (The excess broth from the wakame preparation can be incorporated!)
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of coarse ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add sea salt.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of red miso paste.
     Stir till the miso paste dissolves.
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of Chinkiang Black Vinegar.
     Add enough cornstarch and cold water slurry to thicken the sauce to a medium thin sauce consistency.  (About 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons + 1 tablespoon of water.  Any extra slurry can be saved for another recipe.)
     Simmer and stir, till the cornstarch combines.
     Step 5:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Ramen Noodles, Fried Ikan Bilis and Wakame en Black Vinegar Red Sauce:
     *Keep a pot of water boiling over medium high heat, so the noodles can be reheated.
     Step 1:  Place the portion of prepared ramen noodles in a pasta net and dip them in the hot water, till they are piping hot.
     Place the noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add the warm wakame pieces.
     Toss the hot noodles with the oil and wakame.
     Step 2:  Mound the ramen noodle mixture in a deep noodle bowl.
     Ladle a generous amount of the Black Vinegar Red Sauce around the noodles.
     Sprinkle 1 sliced green onion over the noodles and sauce.
     Mound the crispy golden brown ikan bilis on the ramen noodles.
     Garnish with a trimmed green onion.

     Fried Ikan Bilis fans will surely like this noodle house style recipe!  

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