Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ramen with Galangal Broth, Lotus Root and Spicy Shrimp

     Gourmet Ramen Noodles!
     Ramen Snack Noodles are popular worldwide.  Ramen Noodles have a reputation for being a college student's main staple.  Almost anything can be added to Ramen Noodles to jazz up the flavor. Fancying up a bowl of Ramen helps to liven things up when living on a low budget.
     There are a few noodle house restaurants in Las Vegas that feature Gourmet Ramen creations, but most many noodle house chefs prefer to only market traditional Ramen recipes.  Either way, a Ramen Noodle House is a great place to dine when seeking new ideas for making Gourmet Ramen Noodles at home.
     Today's Ramen creation actually has good eye appeal.  The Spicy Shrimp garnish has a mild spicy heat level and it adds a nice color contrast.  Galangal is Thai Blue Ginger.  Galangal adds a zesty ginger flavor to the savory broth.  Lotus Root kind of tastes like potato, but Lotus Root will retain its crispy bite even after simmering for an extended time.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 portion!
     Galangal Broth and Lotus Root:
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of shrimp broth in a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 2:  Add 6 thin slices of peeled lotus root.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground galangal powder.  (Thai Blue Ginger Root)
     Add 1 small pinch of Chinese Chile Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Step 3:  Boil the lotus root till it just starts to become tender.
     Allow the broth to reduce to about 1 1/4 cups.  Add water if too much liquid evaporates.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Keep the broth and lotus root warm till it is needed.

     Ramen Noodles:
     Shocking ramen noodles is a traditional method for creating a chewy texture.
     Boil a pot of water over high heat.
     Add 1 portion of ramen noodles.
     Stir the noodles occasionally, till they become fully cooked.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     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.
     Spicy Shrimp:
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 whole large shrimp that has the head attached.  (Trim off the long antennae.)
     Sauté the shrimp on both sides till it is almost fully cooked.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of Chinese Chile Powder on the shrimp.
     Sprinkle 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika on the shrimp.
     Keep the shrimp warm on a stove top.
     Galangal Lotus Ramen with Nori and Spicy Shrimp:
     Step 1:  Raise the temperature of the Galangal Broth to medium high heat.
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Remove the lotus root slices from the broth and set them aside on a platter.
     Step 2:  Add the prepared ramen noodles to the hot broth.
     Allow the noodles to reheat for about 30 seconds.
     Step 3:  Place the ramen noodles and broth in a noodle bowl.
     Place the lotus root slices against the edge of the bowl around the noodles.
     Step 4:  Place a few cilantro leaves around the ramen noodles.
     Cut a few thin strips of roasted nori seaweed with scissors.
     Sprinkle the nori strips around the ramen noodles.
     Step 5:  Place thin lime slice garnish on top of the noodles.
     Place the spicy shrimp on the lime slice.
     Place a small Thai Basil sprig on the shrimp.
     Delicious, healthy and nice looking Gourmet Ramen Noodles!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Samgyetang - Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup

     The Traditional Korean Cure All! 
     Samgyetang is a traditional Korean soup that has medicinal value!  This soup is usually served during the summer season, but it is great for chilly weather too.  During warm weather Samgyetang is like a tonic that increases stamina.  During the winter, this medicinal soup helps to fight off the common cold or flu.
     It seems like every culture around the globe has a chicken soup recipe that has a reputation for being a cold remedy.  Chicken Broth cold remedies are far from just merely being an old wive's tale.  Scientific studies show that the broth from one whole chicken will substantially boost the immune system enough to help conquer the common cold.

     Of all the chicken broth soup cold remedies in the world, Korean Samgyetang has to be at the top of the list for many reasons.  For a start, one whole young chicken is used to make one serving of this soup, so the chicken broth dosage level is absolutely correct.  The whole small chicken is stuffed with just the right amount of sticky rice.  The rice and chicken meat provide necessary proteins and slow acting carbohydrates that give the body enough long lasting energy to fight off illness.  As one can see, the basic elements of this Korean "cure all" soup are well founded.
     For a really bad cold or flu, it takes more than just chicken, broth and rice to get over the illness.  This is where a little bit of Asian medicinal food knowledge comes in handy.  To some folks, the medicinal ingredients in a Samgyetang might seem exotic, but every item in this recipe can be found in the average Asian food market.
     Ginseng is one of the most important Samgyetang ingredients.  Fresh Korean Ginseng, dried ginseng of nearly any kind and little jars of wine that contain whole ginseng root, all sell for a nice price at Asian food markets.  Ginseng is a strong antioxidant that also acts as a blood thinner that improves circulation.  Ginseng helps to tone the body and mind, while ridding the body of toxins.
     Garlic acts as a blood thinner and it helps to boost immune system response.  Strong aromatic fresh garlic is best for making Samgyetang.
     Fresh Ginkgo Nuts are an essential Samgyetang ingredient, because this medicinal nut is an effective immune system booster and it is a very strong antioxidant.  Eating 5 or 6 fresh Ginkgo Nuts will result in a charged up feeling that can be compared to taking strong cold pills from the old days.  Sinuses dry out and the lungs take in air more freely.  Cryovac packaged peeled fresh Ginkgo Nuts are available in nearly any Asian market.
     Korean Red Dates (Jujube) can be found as a dried fruit product at any Asian market.  Pitted Dried Korean Red Dates are easy to work with and it only takes about 15 minutes of simmering till they fully reconstitute.  Jujube are a rich source of vitamins and natural sugar.  Jujube also have an antioxidant effect.
     Egg Yolks also boost immune system response and the protein in egg whites promote fast recovery from illness.  Both the chicken and the egg work together in Samgyetang.

     Judging by the ingredients, Samgyetang by far is the best chicken soup cure for the common cold.  Now the question is, what is the best Samgyetang recipe?  The answer is, nobody knows!  This is because many Samgyetang recipes are an ancient family secret.
     Samgyetang is so popular in Korea, that there actually are restaurants that only sell Samgyetang and nothing else.  Each chef adds their own medicinal food knowledge to the basic Samgyetang recipe.  Even though all Samgyetang may look alike, no two recipes are exactly the same.  One might say that Samgyetang is tailor made for the medicinal needs of the individual guest!

     Korean Red Dates (Jujube):
     Place 8 dried pitted Korean Red Dates in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough water to cover the dates.
     Place the pot over low heat.
     Simmer till the red dates are soft and reconstituted.
     Remove the red dates from the liquid and set them aside.

     Sticky Rice Stuffing:
     This recipe yields a little more than what is needed to stuff 1 small chicken.
     Step 1:  Boil 1 1/2 cups of water in a small sauce pot.
     Add 3/4 cup of Sticky Rice.
     Return the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Simmer and steam for about 20 minutes, till the Sticky Rice is fully cooked.
     Take the pot off of the heat and let the Sticky Rice cool.        
     Step 3:  Place the Sticky Rice in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin sliced ginseng root.
     Add 1 thin sliced small shallot.
     Add 3 chopped Korean red dates.
     Add 4 chopped shelled fresh gingko nuts.
     Mix the stuffing ingredients together and set it aside.
     This recipe yields 1 large bowl of broth soup with a whole small chicken.  (This is exactly what the doctor ordered!)  
     Step 1:  Select a small whole young chicken (1 pound or less) or a Cornish Game Hen.  (Cornish Game Hen was used to make the Samgyetang in the photos.)
     Stuff the cavity of the small chicken with the rice stuffing mixture.
     Use a bamboo skewer to seal the cavity opening shut, so the rice stuffing is sealed inside.
     Step 2:  Select a pot that is just a little bit wider than the chicken.
     Add 3 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of shopped garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Korean style Coarse Red Chile Paste (sambal).
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Boil the broth for 5 minutes.
     Step 4:  Place the stuffed chicken in the hot broth.
     The broth should almost cover the chicken.  Add water if necessary.
     Add 5 large bite size pieces of ginseng root.
     Add 3 coarsly chopped fresh gingko nuts.
     Add 5 of the prepared Korean Red Dates.
     Add 4 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 5:  Bring the broth back to a boil over medium high heat.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Place a lid on the pot.
     Simmer the soup till the chicken is fully cooked and the meat can easily be pulled from the bones with chopsticks.  (About 1 hour.)
     Turn the chicken over in the broth every once in a while.  Add water if necessary.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat.
     Step 7:  Separate the yolk and white of 1 large egg into 2 separate bowls.
     Whisk the egg white till it just starts to foam.
     Briefly whisk the egg yolk.
     Step 8:  Heat a non-stick small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Pour the egg white on one side of the pan.
     Pour the egg yolk on the other side of the pan.  (Use a rubber spatula to get every last bit out of each bowl.)
     Gently pan fry the egg yolk and egg white till they are fully cooked on both sides.  Try not to brown the egg!
     Step 9:  Place the fried egg yolk and egg white on a cutting board.
     Slice the egg into thin strips.
     Step 10:  Place the stuffed cooked chicken in a large soup bowl.
     Remove the bamboo skewer.
     Step 11:  Pour all of the broth into the soup bowl.
     Add 3 large bite size pieces of green onion to the broth.
     Step 12:  Drape the strips of fried egg white and egg yolk over the chicken in the soup bowl.
     Sprinkle 1 thin bias sliced green onion over the egg strips.

     Samgyetang not only is Korean style cold medicine ... this soup looks good and tastes great!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Banh Pho Noodle Bowl with Surimi, King Mushroom and Ginkgo Nuts

     A Healthy Noodle Bowl!
     Banh Pho is one of many names for flat ribbon shaped rice noodles.  Fresh Ribbon Noodles are available at Asian food markets.  Ribbon Noodles are great "slurping material" when served as a Vietnamese style noodle bowl.
     The Cherry Blossom Surimi in today's recipe is a fancy one that I purchased in Las Vegas.  Fancy Surimi is available in many different shapes and design colors.    
     King Trumpet Mushrooms are the largest member of the Oyster Mushroom family.  Complex proteins in King Mushrooms actually boost the immune system.  Fresh ginkgo nuts add a mellow flavor and they have very strong anti oxidant properties.  The medicinal properties of today's noodle bowl can help to ward off the common cold.  
     Lotus Root adds starchy crunch with each bite.  Lotus Root slices always add eye appeal to a broth noodle bowl.  Radicchio adds color and an interesting bitter cabbage flavor.  It is traditional to garnish a Vietnamese style noodle bowl with plenty of fresh herbs.
     Banh Pho Noodle Bowl with Surimi, King Mushroom and Ginkgo Nuts: 
     This recipe yields 1 large noodle bowl entrée.
     All of the ingredients are available at Asian food markets!
     Step 1:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 2/3 cup of thin sliced King Mushroom.
     Sauté till the mushroom slices till they start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Add 2 1/2 cups of light vegetable broth.
     *For an extra brothy noodle bowl, add 1 extra cup of broth.
     Add 1/3 cup of thin sliced radicchio.
     Add 8 thin slices of peeled fresh lotus root.
     Add 6 fresh ginkgo nuts.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Fish Sauce.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 3:  Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Gently boil till the lotus root slices are fully cooked, yet al dente (crisp to the bite).
     Step 4:  Add 1 portion of fresh ribbon rice noodles (Banh Pho or Ho Fun.)
     Add 1 green onion that is cut into bite size pieces.
     Add 3 thick fancy surimi slices.  (About 1/2 ounce apiece.)
     Step 5:  Gently boil till the noodles are fully cooked and hot.  (This only takes 1 or 2 minutes.)
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the contents of the pot into a large noodle bowl.
     Try to expose the fancy surimi and some of the featured ingredients on the surface, so they can be seen.
     Mound generous amount of small cilantro sprigs on the center.
     Garnish with a Thai Basil sprig.
     Serve with lime wedges on the side.

     Healthy and delicious!