Friday, September 30, 2016

Shrimp and Enoki Miso Soup with Pickled Wakame Seaweed Salad

     Savory, Umami and Zesty!
     The dashi for today's miso soup is made with shrimp broth and salt packed dried wakame seaweed.  This combination creates a savory umami broth flavor that goes well with pale yellow miso paste.  
     Pickled Wakame Seaweed Salad is available as a pre-made product at Asian food markets and some grocery stores.  Seaweed Salad is flavored with mustard seed and vinegar, so it adds a zesty flavor to a savory miso soup.  Wakame is loaded with micronutrients and Iodine, which contribute to good health.    
     Enoki Mushrooms are available at Asian food markets and many grocery stores.  Enoki Mushrooms offer many health benefits and they strengthen the immune system.  When the cold clammy weather of autumn sets in, a bowl of today's miso soup may be just what the doctor ordered!    
     Shrimp and Wakame Dashi:  
     This recipe yields enough dashi broth for 1 large bowl of miso soup.
     I usually freeze shrimp shells for making broth or stock.  Shrimp paste, dried tiny shrimp or dried shrimp bouillon can be used to make the broth if no shrimp shells are available.     
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped rinsed salt packed dried wakame seaweed.
     Let the seaweed soak for about 10 minutes, so it reconstitutes.
     Step 2:  Add 2 cups of shrimp shells and shrimp heads.
     Bring the dashi broth to a boil over medium high heat.
     Boil the broth for ten minutes.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the dashi broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Discard the shrimp shells and seaweed.
     *The finished volume of dashi broth should be about 2 1/4 cups.  Add water if too much liquid evaporated.  

     Shrimp and Enoki Miso Soup with Pickled Wakame Seaweed Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 large bowl of soup.  (About 2 1/4 cups)
     Step 1:  Place the pot with the dashi broth over medium heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Bring the broth to a gentle boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of pale yellow color miso paste, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the miso paste combines with the broth.
     Step 3:  Cut 4 peeled and deveined medium size raw shrimp in half lengthwise.  (Remove the tails from the shrimp.)
     Add the shrimp to the soup.
     Simmer the soup till the shrimp are fully cooked.  (About 2 minutes.)
     Step 4:  Add 2 snow peas that are cut into very thin strips.
     Stir the miso soup one last time to combine the miso paste with the broth.
     Step 5:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Place a few raw enoki mushrooms on the surface of the soup.
     Mound 1/5 cup of pickled wakame seaweed salad in the center of the soup.
     The spicy mustard seed flavor of pickled seaweed salad adds a nice flavor to this soup.  This is a healthy miso soup that is nice for a chilly day!

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!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ramen Noodles with Peking Vegetables, Radicchio and Dried Shredded Squid

     Gourmet Ramen Noodles!
     During bad economic times, ramen noodles are a saving grace.  Poor college students on a tight budget often rely on ramen noodles to get through a week.  A simple plain bowl of ramen noodles with broth is better than going hungry.  It only takes a little bit of imagination to figuring out ways to make a cheap bowl of ramen taste like a million bucks.
     Korean style dried shredded squid snacks are seasoned with salt and sweet vinegar.  Bags of dried shredded squid snacks can be found at Asian food markets.  Radicchio adds a contrasting bitter flavor to this recipe.  Small heads of radicchio can be found at nearly any grocery store.

     Ramen Noodles with Peking Vegetables, Radicchio and Dried Shredded Squid:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan or mini wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 1/3 cup of large diced onion.
     Sauté till the onions just start to get some brown highlights.
     Step 2:  Add 1 chopped clove of garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1/4 cup of thin green bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/2 of a green jalapeño pepper that is thin sliced.
     Sauté till the vegetables just start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Add 3/4 cup of light fish broth.
     Bring the broth to a boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of catsup.
     Add 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce.
     Add 1 teaspoon of honey.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sweet rice wine vinegar.  (sushi vinegar)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of red miso paste.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Step 5:  Add 2 pinches of Chinese Five Spice Powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Stir the sauce till the ingredients combine.
     Step 6:  Add 1/5 cup of very thin sliced carrot.  (flower shapes)  
     *Cut lengthwise grooves with a channeling tool to achieve this effect!
     Add 2 large leaves of radicchio.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a medium thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 7:  Start cooking 1 portion of ramen noodles in a pot of boiling water.
     Boil the noodles till they are tender.
     Drain the water off of the cooked ramen noodles.
     Step 8:  Place the ramen noodles in a medium size noodle bowl.
     Place the wilted radicchio leaves on the edge of the bowl.
     Spoon the Peking Vegetables & Sauce over the noodles.
     Mound 1/2 cup of Korean shredded dried squid snack on top of the noodles. 

     Another tasty gourmet ramen noodle bowl!