Wednesday, April 29, 2015

KoMex Fusion! Cactus Fruit Cut Noodles with Chile Colorado Sofrito Sauce and Shrimp Bulgogi

Left to Right:  1 Chile Morita, 3 Chile Pulla, 1 Chile Negro, 1 Chile Guajillo
     KoMex!  Korean Mexican Fusion Cuisine!  
     KoMex cuisine is a popular food trend in Las Vegas.  Ever since chile peppers, corn, peanuts, sweet potatoes and tomatoes were introduced to Asia during the Colombian Exchange, a new wave of Asian cuisine flavors took shape.
     Korean cooks really took a liking to hot chile peppers.  Many Korean recipes are loaded with red chile pepper powder or chile pepper paste.  Mexican cuisine makes use of a wide variety of chile peppers.  It was a natural for the two most respected chile pepper cuisines to merge as one and become the KoMex cuisine!

     Not all Korean food is spicy.  Bulgogi is a traditional Korean recipe that is over 2,000 years old.  Nearly any kind of meat can be used to make bulgogi.  Pork and beef are the most popular.  Shrimp is an option too.  Bulgogi involves thoroughly marinating meat, then grilling the meat over an open flame or on hot cast iron.  
     Chile peppers were not available when Bulgogi was first created.  Only modern Bulgogi recipe variations have chile peppers in the recipe.  I chose to use a traditional Bulgogi marinade recipe for today's KoMex creation, because the Mexican style noodle sauce is loaded with chile pepper flavor.
     Korean or Chinese Cut Noodles are made by stacking sheets of noodle dough and then slicing the noodle dough sheets into long thin noodles.  Flavored noodles have become popular in recent years.  Dried powdered Prickly Pear Cactus fruit is sometimes used to flavor modern fancy noodles.  Prickly Pear Cactus fruit has a nice mild strawberry flavor.
     Koreans have a method for making noodles chewy.  The boiled fresh noodles are removed from the hot water and then they are shocked in ice cold water.  The noodles are stirred in the ice water by hand, till they gain a chewy texture.  The noodles are removed from the ice water and set aside, till they are used in a recipe.  This technique is good for Cut Noodles.

     Sofrito is pretty much the same thing as mirepoix.  Sofrito often refers to basic vegetable sauce that is used to create the base flavor of a recipe.  There are a few different kinds of sofrito and the choice of sofrito vegetable combination depends on the recipe application.  Today's KoMex recipe requires sofrito vegetables that accent the flavor of tomato.

     Chile Colorado Sauce is always made with dried red chiles.  It is the chef's choice as to which Mexican chile peppers are used.  I chose a combination of dried chile peppers that have a complex combination of fruity, tobacco, licorice and classic robust chile flavor characteristics. 
     The spicy heat level of this entree is on the lower end of the mild to medium range.  In a noodle house restaurant, the spicy heat would be described as "Spicy Heat Level # 4 or #5."  If you prefer a spicier sauce, add 1 chile arbol or add 1 chile habanero.  If you prefer a milder sauce, you are out of luck!  So sorry, Charley!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 large noodle house KoMex entrée!

     Shrimp Bulgogi Marinade:
     Step 1:  Peel and devein 10 medium size shrimp (21/25 per pound count).  Leave the tails on the shrimp.  
     Select 2 nice looking whole medium size shrimp that have the heads attached, so they can be used as a garnish.  (Trim the thin long antenna feelers off of the 2 whole shrimp.)
     Step 2:  Place all of the shrimp into a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin julienne sliced onion strips.
     Add 1/2 of a chopped green onion.
     Add 1 teaspoon of garlic paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ground sesame seed.  (Use a spice grinder or a food processor if you have one.  I ground and chopped sesame seeds by hand with a chef knife the old fashioned way for this recipe.)
     Add 2 teaspoons of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of white pepper.
     Step 3:  Gently toss the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours, till the ingredients thoroughly marinate. 

     Chile Colorado:
     Step 1:  Remove the stems and seeds from these dried chile peppers:
     - 1 chile morita
     - 3 chile pulla
     - 1 chile negro
     - 1 medium size chile guajillo
     Crush the dried chile peppers.
     Step 2:  Place the crushed chile peppers into a sauce pot.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Simmer the chiles over low heat, till they become soft.
     Step 3:  Allow the broth to cool to room temperature.
     Puree the chiles and the chile broth liquid together.  (Use a blending wand, food processor or blender.)
     Step 4:  Place the thin dried red chile puree in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Add /4 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground anatto.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Step 5:  Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a thin medium thin sauce consistency.
     Set the chile colorado sauce aside.

     Tomato Sofrito:
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add 3 tablespoons each of these small chopped vegetables:
     - onion
     - celery
     - green bell pepper
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Sauté till the vegetables are tender.
     Step 2:  Add 4 canned plum tomatoes that are diced and a proportion of juices from the can.
     Add 1/4 cup of tomato puree.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add 1 pinch of Mexican Oregano.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced epazote.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin tomato sauce consistency.

     Chile Colorado and Tomato Sofrito Sauce:
     Add the chile colorado sauce to the warm sofrito sauce in the sauce pot.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

     Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Cut Noodles:
     Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of prickly pear cactus fruit flavored fresh cut noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they are fully cooked.
     Use a pasta net to drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the noodle in a container of ice water.
     Stir the noodles by hand, till they gain a chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the noodles aside, till the bulgogi shrimp is cooked!
     Shrimp Bulgogi Topping:
     The shrimp bulgogi only takes a few minute to cook, so finishing this recipe moves along at a quick pace.  
     *Keep a pot of water boiling so the noodles can be reheated in the final part of the recipe! 
     Step 1:  Heat a seasoned cast iron griddle or a seasoned cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat.
     Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the griddle.
     Place the bulgogi shrimp, onions and marinade on the griddle. 
     Grill the shrimp, till they are fully cooked and brown highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Use a spatula to transfer the shrimp bulgogi to a bowl. 
     Keep the shrimp bulgogi warm on a stove top.

     KoMex Fusion!  Cactus Fruit Cut Noodles with Chile Colorado Sofrito Sauce and Shrimp Bulgogi:
     Step 1:  Place the prepared cactus fruit cut noodles in a pasta net.
     Reheat the noodle in the pot of boiling water.
     Drain the water off the noodles.
     Place the noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add just enough of the warm Chile Colorado Sofrito Sauce to generously coat the noodles.
     Toss the noodles with the sauce.
     Step 3:  Mound the sauced noodles on a plate.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of chopped cilantro over the noodles.
     Step 4:  Place the warm shrimp bulgogi on top of the noodles.
     Set the 2 whole unpeeled shrimp on top as a garnish.
     Sprinkle some thin bias sliced green onion on the plate around the noodles.

      If you like Korean food and if you like Mexican food, then you will really like KoMex Fusion food!   The spicy flavors go well together!

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