Monday, September 19, 2016

Fuzhou Noodles en Bean Paste Broth with Leek, Shallot and Wood Ear Mushrooms

     Lucky Noodles!  
     Chinese Fuzhou Noodles are also called Lucky Noodles.  Fuzhou Noodles have a reputation for bringing long life and good luck to those who eat them!  Fuzhou Noodles are very thin noodle threads.  These noodles are treated with lye water and a hint of lye can be tasted.  The lye flavor creates some interesting taste perception changes, when other ingredients are added.
     Wood Ear Mushrooms are also called Cow's Ear Fungus.  These mushrooms have a very delicate woodsy flavor.  Many vegitarians in Asia refer to Wood Ear Mushrooms as meat.  Wood Ear Mushrooms are loaded with essential nutrients, and these mushrooms contain immune system boosters that actually slow down the aging process.  Wood Ear Mushrooms are great for people who want to stay young and healthy!
     Leeks and shallots are commonly used in Asian cuisine.  There are dozens of shallot varieties and many are not in the onion family of plants.  Asian Leeks are tiny bulbs that look like a small onion bulb.  Chinese Garlic Chive Plants are the source of Asian Leeks.  Fresh Asian Leeks are not easy to find in most western countries.  In Asia, the tiny leeks are harvested, then kept in brine till they are used for cooking.  Jars of Asian Leeks in brine are available at most Asian food markets.  If none are available, then use a regular European Leek.
     Miso Paste (Bean Paste) has a rich soy flavor.  There are many varieties of bean paste and most are identified by their color.  I used a light yellow orange colored bean paste for today's recipe.  Yellow or pale miso paste has a lighter flavor.  Red Miso Paste comes in few varieties.  Korean red bean paste can be very strong tasting.  Japanese red miso paste is a little bit milder.  The choice of miso paste in a traditional recipe can be specific, but many Asian recipes allow personal preference.
     Bean Paste Broth with Leek, Shallot and Wood Ear Mushrooms: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Soak about 1/5 cup of dried wood ear mushrooms in water overnight in a refrigerator.
     Step 2:  Drain off the liquid.  (Wood ear mushrooms impart very little flavor to the soaking liquid, so the liquid can be discarded.)
     Set the mushrooms on a cutting board.
     Slice the mushrooms into thin strips.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 3/4 cups of vegetable broth or mushroom broth.
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 4:  Add the wood ear mushroom strips.
     Add 3 Asian Leek bulbs (or 1/3 cup of sliced European Leek).
     Add 1 sliced shallot.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 5:  Boil the soup, till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of pale yellow color miso paste.
     Stur the miso paste into the broth.
     Simmer the soup for a few minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Fuzhou Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Place a container of ice water on a countertop.  (About 1 quart.)
     Step 2:  Boil a small pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of Fuzhou Noodles.
     Boil till the noodles are tender.  (Fuzhou Noodles only take a few seconds to cook!)
     Step 3:  Pour the noodles into a fine mesh strainer to drain off the water.
     Step 4:  Place the hot noodles in ice water and swirl the noodles, so they gain a chewy texture.
     Drain the ice water off of the noodles.
     Set the prepared noodles aside.
     Fuzhou Noodles en Bean Paste Broth with Leek, Shallot and Wood Ear Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 noodle bowl.
     Step 1:  Pour the Bean Paste Broth with Leek, Shallot and Wood Ear Mushrooms into a large soup bowl.
     Step 2:  Place the prepared Fuzhou Noodles in the center of the soup.
     Use tongs or chop sticks to submerge the noodles in the hot broth.
     Gather the noodles into a mound in the center of the bowl.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle a few cilantro leaves on the surface of the broth.
     Fuzhou Noodles bring good luck and long life!

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