Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tapioca Thread Noodles with Lemongrass Broth, Beef Short Rib and Lap Cheong

     Noodle House Special #1!
     Translucent glass noodles are usually made from tapioca or mung bean starch.  Glass Noodles are popular in Vietnamese cuisine and many other Asian cuisines.  Glass Noodles have become a trendy item in America too.
     Noodle House Restaurants in Las Vegas offer menus that are written in several languages, with a corresponding photo and number for each menu item.  All a customer has to do is say the number or point at the picture.  Some Noodle House Restaurants have over 100 menu options.  Usually the house specialty is menu option #1.
     For the English language translation menu section, the name of the noodle is usually the first words of the menu item title.  Then either the traditional name of specific preparation follows or a list of featured ingredients follows.  For example, "Pho Duck and Mushroom."  
     The type of broth is not always described in the menu item title, because the broth is usually made with the scraps from the featured savory item.  Customers know that a "Pho Duck and Mushroom" entrée will have a savory duck broth. 
     If the broth in a noodle bowl entrée has nothing in common with the savory ingredients, then the type of broth should be described in the menu item title.  Today's recipe marries a light Lemongrass Vegetable Broth with beef and sausage, so the broth should be mentioned in the entrée name or customers might assume that the broth will be beef broth.  

     Many noodle houses use some pre-prepared items in recipes that can also be found in Asian food markets.  Prepared items are not only a time saver for professional chefs, these items are a convenience for home cooks.  Prepared items include things like pastes, sauces, roasted meats and frozen meatballs.
     Some noodle houses make every item in their own kitchen and use no pre-prepared items.  Just like the saying goes, there is nothing like good old fashioned scratch cooking!

     Lap Cheong translates to "Wax Sausage."  Wax Sausage refers to "Chinese Wind Dried Sausage."   In plain English, Wind Dried Sausage means the same thing as Dry Cure Sausage.  Meat combined with a preserving salt mixture is packed into a sausage casing, then the sausages are hung up till they are dried and cured.  This specialty sausage is available in Asian food markets.
     Lap Cheong is made with a variety of meats and the most popular choice is pork.  Duck Lap Cheong is popular too.  Lap Cheong has to be steamed or boiled, so the dry hard sausage reconstitutes.
     All Lap Cheong varieties have a slightly sweet savory flavor.  Lap Cheong is renowned as being one of the world's best, because the flavor is so unique.

     Roasted short ribs are an old traditional item in many Vietnamese pho soup recipes.  One or two meaty short ribs is usually a good portion for a large bowl of pho soup.  Like many Vietnamese pho soups, the noodles and vegetables make up the higher proportion of the ingredients in the soup.

     *This entire recipe yields one large noodle bowl!

     Roasted Short Rib:
     Step 1:  Place 1 meaty beef short rib (about 5 to 7 ounces) in a small bowl.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of water.
     Roll the short rib in the marinade to coat all sides
     Marinate the short rib for 5 to 10 minutes.
     Step 2:  Place the short rib on a small roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 275ºF oven.
     Slowly roast the short rib, till it is fully cooked and thoroughly browned.
     Set the short rib aside.
     Tapioca Thread Noodles with Lemongrass Broth, Beef Short Rib and Lap Cheong:
     Step 1:  Place 3 cups of light vegetable broth in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 shoot of lemongrass that is tied in a knot.
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer for 5 minutes.
     Remove the lemongrass knot.  (The lemongrass knot can be saved for a second recipe.)
     Step 3:  Add the oven roasted beef short rib.
     Add 2 ounces of thin bias sliced Lap Cheong.  (Chinese dry cure sweet pork sausage)
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 3 or 4 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Simmer till the sausage starts to soften.
     Step 5:  In a separate pot, start cooking 1 portion of tapioca thread noodles in boiling water.  Boil till the noodles are tender.
     Use a strainer to drain the water off of the glass noodles.
     Set the noodles aside.
     Step 6:  Raise the temperature of the broth in the other pot to medium high heat.
     Add these ingredients to the broth:
     - 2 baby bok choy that are cut lengthwise into quarters.
     - 1 green onion that is cut into bite size pieces.
     - 5 trimmed snow peas.
     - 6 thin slices of daikon radish
     - 1/4 cup of thin julienne sliced bermuda onion.
     - 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Step 7:  Briefly boil till the vegetables are blanched al dente.
     Remove the pot from the heat.

     Place the broth, vegetables, sausage and short rib in a large noodle bowl.
     Mound the tapioca thread noodles on the center of the soup.
     Try to expose the short rib and some Lap Cheong on the surface of the broth, so they can be seen.
     Garnish with 2 large sprigs of Thai Basil.
     This is a delicious noodle bowl!

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