Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ramen Noodles with Moroccan Sardines, Leek Shrimp Broth and Wasabi Sauce

     Everybody has their own unique way of turning a package of ramen noodles into an interesting meal.  Dressing up ramen noodles is a fun pastime for many home cooks.  College students on a tight budget really know how to kick the ramen noodle game up a notch.  Modern noodle house chefs like to let all hang out when creating new Gourmet Ramen Noodle recipes.  Ramen noodles are a great medium for creativity!

     When I recovered from a serious illness a few years ago, I landed in the thick of the Great Recession that has caused many families to lose their homes in Las Vegas.  The only job that I could find in Las Vegas was a low end sales rep job.  Nobody was making much money at that company, but it was better than having no money at all.
     Most of the employees made a ramen noodle lunch in the break room each day.  I cannot even count how many times I heard the employees say "I can't wait till I can afford to eat something besides ramen noodles!"
     One weird guy at that business preferred to just eat the ramen noodles dry without cooking them!  He would sprinkle the package of seasoning on the dry uncooked ramen noodles as he ate.  That is about as basic as ramen noodles can get!
     Most of the rest of us employees would fancy up the boiled ramen noodles with cheap canned food or fresh ingredients.  I always preferred my own lunch break ramen noodles with sardines and lots of hot sauce.
     At about the same time during the recession, a few new ramen noodle house restaurants opened up for business.  During bad economic times, consumers seek cheap eats, so the new ramen noodle restaurants became popular overnight.  Modern ramen house restaurants offer both traditional Japanese favorites as well as exciting new ramen creations made with gourmet items.  Ramen noodle house restaurants offer good dining value when times are tough.

     Wasabi Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1/3 cup.
     Only a small amount is needed for today's gourmet ramen recipe.  Any extra sauce can be saved for other recipes.
     Pre-made Wasabi Mayonnaise in a plastic squirt bottle is available at Asian food markets and some grocery stores.  The problem with manufactured Wasabi Mayonnaise is that it has very little flavor.  Making a tastier Wasabi Mayonnaise is easy to do. 
     Step 1:  Place 1 teaspoon of wasabi powder in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Stir till the wasabi becomes a paste.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise.
     Whisk till the sauce is blended.
     Step 3:  Place the wasabi mayonnaise in a squirt bottle.
     Refrigerate the sauce for 1 hour, so the full flavor develops.  
     Canned Moroccan Sardines Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 ramen entrée.
     Moroccan brands of sardines caught in the Mediterranean region are true sardines.  The flavor is superior to canned small herring, which are sold as sardines in many countries.  Moroccan Sardines can be found in Mediterranean food markets.  
     *Care must be taken when cleaning and separating canned sardine filets, because they are easily damaged!  
     Open a can of good quality Moroccan Sardines.
     Gently and carefully scrape the skin and scales off of each sardine.  (This is easily done by holding the sardine under gently running water while brushing the fish with a pastry brush.)
     Carefully pry the sardines open from end to end to separate the filets.
     Remove the spine bones and innards.
     Set the sardine filets aside.  (About 6 whole filets are needed.)
     *Canned sardines must be handled gently if the filets are to remain in one piece.  If the filets do break apart, just leave them alone, till it is time to set them on the noodles later in the recipe.  They can be pieced together at that time.

     Ramen Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Cook 1 portion of ramen noodles in a pot of water over high heat till they are tender.
     Drain the water off the noodles.
     Shock the noodles in a container of ice water while stirring, till they gain a chewy texture.
     Drain off the water and set the ramen aside.
     Ramen Noodles and Moroccan Sardines in Leek Shrimp Broth with Wasabi Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 ramen bowl entrée.
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of shrimp broth in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced French leek.  (The green part can be used too.)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of a minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil.
     Add 1 pinch of ground Szechuan Pepper.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Simmer till the leeks are tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add the reserved cooked ramen noodles.
     Stir till the noodles are reheated.
     Step 4:  Pour the broth and ramen noodles into a noodle bowl.
     Use a fork or chop sticks to mound the noodles in the center of the bowl.
     Step 5:  Carefully place the prepared Moroccan Sardine filets vertically on the noodles, so each sardine points outward from center.
     Step 6:  Use the squirt bottle to paint the sardines and noodles with streaks of Wasabi Sauce.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of toasted white sesame seeds over the noodles.
     Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of black sesame seeds over the noodles.
     Step 7:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of chopped roasted red bell pepper on top of the noodles.
     Insert 2 or 3 long thin green onion top slivers vertically into the roasted pepper garnish.
     A simple yet nice looking bowl of modern gourmet ramen noodles!

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