Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lomi Noodles with Pork Belly, Baby Bok Choy and Sweet Banana Flower Sauce

     Pork Belly and Noodles!
     One of the hot items in recent creative cooking trends is pork belly.  There are so many great traditional pork belly recipes around the world, that creating a totally new pork belly recipe is not an easy task.  It seems like every island in the South Pacific has great pork recipes.  Some of the very best pork belly recipes can be found in the Philippines.  Most Philippine pork belly recipes involve slow cooking over a long period of time.  
     Today's Pork Belly and Lomi Noodles recipe is not really a slow cooked entrée, but it does feature flavors that are common in Filipino cuisine.  Tart tasting banana flowers, sugar and soy sauce create a traditional Philippine cuisine flavor that is perfect for pork.  Lomi Noodles are thick fresh egg noodles that are popular in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.  

     Pork Belly, Baby Bok Choy and Sweet Banana Flower Sauce with Lomi Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Lomi Noodles are fairly easy to make.  Fresh Lomi Noodles are also available in Asian food markets.  
     Whole banana blossoms, banana flowers and dried banana flowers can be found in Asian food markets.  The long thin banana flowers are revealed when peeling off layers of banana blossom petals.Banana flowers have a bitter flavor.     
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling, so the fresh Lomi Noodles can be cooked later in the recipe.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan or mini wok over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add about 6 ounces of skinned pork belly that is cut into large bite size cube shape pieces.
     Sauté the pork belly till it is light golden brown on all sides.
     Step 3:  Add 2 crushed garlic cloves.
     Add 1/4 cup of julienne sliced onion.
     Sauté till the garlic and onions turn a golden color.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of light pork broth.
     Add 1/4 cup of rice wine.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.   
     Add 1 tablepoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 2 tablespoons of raw sugar.
     Stir the ingredients.
     Step 5:  Add 10 dried banana flowers that have been rinsed.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of yellow curry powder.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer till the banana flowers are tender and the flavors meld.  (About 5 minutes)
     Step 7:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Mix 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water to make a slurry. 
     Add the slurry while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a very thin consistency.
     Step 8:  Add 4 baby bok choy that are cut in half lengthwise.
     Rapidly simmer and reduce, till the bok choy is al dente and the sauce is a thin consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Step 9:  Place 1 portion of fresh Lomi Noodles in the pot of boiling water.  
     When the noodles are fully cooked and hot, drain the water off of the noodles.  (Fresh Lomi Noodles only take about 1 minute to cook!) 
     Step 10:  Add the lomi noodles to the ingredients in the pan.  
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 11:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Place the Lomi Noodles, pork belly, and baby bok choy on a plate.  Try to expose a few of the pork belly pieces, banana flowers and baby bok choy on the surface, so they can be seen.
     Pour any remaining sweet banana flower sauce over the noodles.      
     No garnish is necessary!

     Philippine style bitter sweet banana flower sauce is tasty with pork belly and bok choy! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sukiyaki Style Grilled Marinated Pork Loin, Udon Noodles and Gelatinous Beef Broth

     A Simple Soothing Noodle Bowl!
     Sukiyaki is a style of Japanese cooking that requires a pot of broth to be kept hot at the table over an open flame.  Sukiyaki is not just a meal, it is a social event.  The guest is basically the chef at a sukiyaki table, because the guest selects the ingredients and the guest does the cooking!   
     A choice of broth is always offered for sukiyaki at a restaurant.  Bone marrow broth, dashi broth, chicken broth, gelatinous meat broth and vegetable broth are just a few of the broth options.  The noodles for sukiyaki are usually freshly made udon noodles.  Extra ingredients and herbs are commonly offered.   Meat, tofu or vegetables are dipped in marinade and either cooked in the broth or grilled at the table and then added to the broth in a bowl.     
     At home or in a standard restaurant, a hot open flame or chargrill in the dining area is not always an option.  An electric hot plate that reaches a moderately high temperature can keep the broth hot enough to cook whatever is dipped in it.  
     Sukiyaki can be prepared in a kitchen, then brought to a table, but this would not be a social way to dine.  Sukiyaki that is prepared in a kitchen would be more like a street food style sukiyaki, where customers point at items on a menu that they want cooked in the broth.  Today's recipe is done street food style, but it can easily be adapted to a sukiyaki table setting.        

     Gelatinous Beef Broth:
     This recipe yields about 1 quart.  (2 portions)
     Step 1:  Place 16 ounces of beef neck bone pieces in a large sauce pot.  (Be sure that the bones have plenty of cartilage and connective tissue attached.)
     Add 1 crushed garlic clove.
     Add 1 coarsely chopped shallot.
     Add a 5" x 5" piece of dried kombu seaweed.
     Cover the bones with 1" of extra water.  (About 1 1/2 quarts) 
     Step 2:  Place the pot over low heat. 
     Gently simmer for about 4 hours, till the broth is a golden tan color and full of flavor.  
     *Add water as necessary to keep the bones covered, but let the broth reduce in volume to about 1 quart. 
     Step 3:  Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Set the broth aside or chill it for later use. 

     Udon Noodles:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Fresh udon noodles are fairly easy to make.  They also can be found in Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Place 1 portion of fresh udon noodles in a pot of boiling water over medium high heat.
     Boil till the noodles are fully cooked.  (This only takes about a minute.)
     Step 2:  Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Place the hot noodles in a container of ice water.
     Stir the noodles till they gain a firm texture.
     Step 3:  Drain the cold water off of the noodles.
     Set the prepared udon noodles aside.
     Pork Marinade:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce into a small bowl.
     Add 2 tablespoons of the gelatinous beef broth.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice wine.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Place the marinade in a small shallow ceramic bowl.
     Set the bowl aside.

     Sukiyaki Style Grilled Marinated Pork Loin, Udon Noodles and Gelatinous Beef Broth:
     This recipe yields 1 noodle bowl entrée.
     Paper thin slices of pork loin can be found at Asian food market butcher shops.  If you slice your own pork loin, then partially freeze the meat before slicing.   
     Step 1:  Place 2 cups of Gelatinous Beef Broth in a sauce pot.
     Bring the broth to a gentle simmer over medium low heat.
     Step 2:  Select 3 ounces of paper thin sliced pork loin.
     Separate the slices on a platter.  
     Step 3:  Heat a non-stick griddle over medium/medium low heat.
     Season the griddle with just a few drops of vegetable oil.
     Sauté a few of the paper thin slices of the pork loin at a time.
     When the pork loin slices are fully cooked, place them in the marinade.
     *Leave the griddle on the heat!  
     Step 4:  Toss the grilled thin pork loin slices with the marinade.
     Let them sit in the marinade for about 30 seconds.
     Step 5:  The next few steps finish the dish and they have to be done quickly, so everything is hot when served!
     Place the prepared Udon Noodles into the pot of hot broth.  
     Pour the hot gelatinous beef broth and noodles into a large soup bowl.
     Step 6:  Return the marinated grilled pork loin slices to the hot griddle.
     Grill the pork till a few light brown highlights appear.  
     Step 7:  Place the grilled marinated pork loin slices on the surface of the broth an noodles.
     Place 1 tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro on the center of the noodles.
     Garnish the bowl with 2 perilla leaves.

     When alone or if no table hot pot is available, you can still enjoy street food style sukiyaki!    

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Shiitake Egg Miso Soup

     Healthy Miso Soup!
     Miso soup is a popular breakfast in Japan.  If you think about it, soup broth is the easiest item for a body to digest.
     There is no use in eating heavy carbohydrates in the morning, because carbohydrates take nearly 10  hours to digest and convert to energy.  Long distance runners load up on carbohydrates the night before a race, not the morning of a race.
     Sugary sweet breakfast food provides immediate energy that has the effect of a quick acting drug.  The body reacts to sugar like it is a drug or unknown substance, then the body quickly converts sugar into energy.  The quick morning sugar energy shock does not last long.  People that eat a high sugar content breakfast to get a jump start on a day, usually suffer a "sugar crash" or a sharp loss of energy when the sugar high starts to fade after a few hours.  If more sugar is consumed to get over the sugar crash, then a possible cycle of sugar dependency is created, which can be detrimental to health.
     Old fashioned dinners that include starchy root vegetables, whole grain or pasta will provide plenty of energy for the next day.  So what does the body really crave in the morning, if long acting carbohydrates were consumed the previous evening?  The answer is muscle building protein and micronutrients that increase awareness, endurance and performance!  Miso soup for breakfast is a good source of micronutrients and protein.  The Japanese tradition of miso soup for breakfast actually makes sense!
     Today's miso soup recipe actually is nice for breakfast, but it can be served with any meal.  The Shiitake Mushrooms add a nice flavor and plenty of nutritional value.  This high protein miso soup will leave you feeling healthy and strong!
     Iriko and Wakame Dashi):
     This recipe about 2 cups.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of sun dried anchovies.
     Add 1 tablespoon of rinsed salt packed wakame seaweed that is finely chopped.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Boil the dashi broth for 10 minutes.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a second sauce pot.
     Set the sauce pot aside.
     *Discard the anchovies and seaweed or save them for another recipe.
     Shiitake Egg Miso Soup:
     This recipe yields about 2 cups.  (1 portion)
     Step 1:  Place the sauce pot of Iriko and Wakame Dashi over medium low heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of soy sauce.
     Add 2 to 3 drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1 small pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon of white or yellow miso paste.
     Stir till the miso paste dissolves.
     Step 3:  Add 2 very thin sliced fresh small shiitake mushrooms.  (About 1/4 cup.)
     Gently simmer the soup, while the egg is being poached.
     Step 4:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add enough water, so the liquid is about 1 1/4" deep.
     *Only add enough water to partially cover the egg, so the yolk is exposed to the air and it remains a bright yellow color.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Bring the water to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Place 1 shelled large egg in the hot water.
     Poach till the egg white is firm and the yolk is still uncooked.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 6:  Stir the Shiitake Egg Miso Soup one last time.
     Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.
     Step 7:  Use a slotted spoon to set the poached egg in the center of the miso soup.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion on the miso soup.

     This soup is delicate tasting and satisfying!