Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl with Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini and Persian Preserved Lemon

     A Persian Arabic Gourmet Ramen Flavor!
     Ramen Noodles are a medium that allows a modern chef to create some great flavor combinations that are not bound by tradition.  All it takes is a little bit of imagination to extend Ramen creativity to new frontiers.  
     Selecting an odd item at a food market is a good way to trigger Ramen creativity.  For example, purchasing a can of Vienna Sausage triggers memories of packing a can in a tackle box, just in case a snack is needed when going on a fishing trip.  The memory inspires a thought process that results in creating a Ramen Noodle Bowl that has a fishing trip snack food theme.  Viola!  A Fisherman's Survival Kit Ramen Noodle Bowl recipe idea is born!  
     Today, I was thinking of how relatively few people outside of Iran know that mushrooms are part of many traditional Persian recipes.  Many westerners only picture Middle East countries as having harsh desert climates.  In reality, the opposite is true.  The climate is as diverse as the cultures of people that live there.  Eastern Iran is a prime mushroom foraging area.  Mushroom cultivation also is a big business in that country and there are thousands of tasty traditional Persian mushroom recipes that can be found on the internet.  These thoughts were on my mind when I left to go shopping at a grocery store.  
     After returning from the grocery store with a few odd items consisting of a package of Ramen Noodles and a handful of mushrooms, I took a look at what else was on hand in the kitchen.  I thought to myself that I really needed to use up some Arabic spices and the last bit of sesame paste in a jar sometime soon before these items go bad.  All of a sudden something clicked.  Why not make a Middle Eastern style Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl.  It seemed like a good idea and it might inspire readers to look into traditional Persian mushroom recipes.  Go with it!
      Since all international cuisines were part of my formal culinary arts education at Le Cordon Bleu, it was relatively easy to set the Persian Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl idea into motion.  What I ended up with, was a great tasting vegetarian Ramen Noodle bowl that had a nice Persian Arabic flavor combination.  Fenugreek Leaves have an aromatic maple flavor.  Black Caraway Seed has a very nice roasted onion and cumin flavor.  The sprinkle of Sumac Berry Spice tops off the entrée with a lemony red wine flavor.  Persian Preserved Lemon has a mellow tart flavor that lightens the rich Sesame Seed Paste Sauce on the palate.   
     Tahini is Sesame Seed Paste.  Tahini Sauce has many ingredients added to create a traditional sauce flavor.  Unflavored Sesame Paste is needed for today's recipe, so look for a jar that says Tahini, not Tahini Sauce.  By the way, a jar of Tahini at a Mediterranean food market costs less than half the price at an average grocery store.  A vast array of North African and Middle Eastern spices can also be found at a Mediterranean food market.  
     Peanut butter is used to thicken certain stew sauces in Africa and the Philippines.  Tahini can be used the same way.  Any nut seed paste will readily absorb liquid and a little bit of Tahini goes a long way.  When a little bit of Tahini is added to a portion of broth, the liquid will quickly thicken to a sauce consistency after a few minutes.  A Tahini thickened sauce looks creamy, like a milk or yogurt sauce.  Be careful not to add too much Tahini or the sauce will have to be diluted several times. 

     Mushrooms en Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  (About 1 1/3 cups)
     All the spices in this recipe can be found in a Mediterranean food market.
     Step 1:  Keep a pot of water boiling over medium high heat, so the ramen noodles can be cooked later in the recipe!
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 1 cup of Button Cave Mushrooms that are cut into small wedges.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender and lightly brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
     Sauté till the onion turns clear in color.
     Step 4:  Add 3 pinches of Black Caraway Seeds.  (A little more than 1/4 teaspoon.)
     Sauté for about 10 seconds, so the Black Caraway becomes aromatic.
     Step 5:  Add 1 1/2 cups of light vegetable broth.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of crushed dried Fenugreek Leaves.
     Add 2 pinches of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.  (optional)
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add enough Tahini (unflavored sesame paste), while stirring, to thicken the sauce to a very thin consistency.  About 1 tablespoon to 1 1/2 tablespoons is enough.  
     *Tahini absorbs a lot of water quickly, so add a little bit of tahini at a time, till the sauce thickens to the correct consistency.
     Step 7:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil. 
     Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  Stir the sauce occasionally.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Mushroom Ramen Noodle Bowl with Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini and Persian Preserved Lemon:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of Ramen Noodles in the pot of boiling water till they are tender. 
     Drain the water off of the noodles.
     Step 2:  Mound the Ramen Noodles in the center of a shallow noodle bowl.
     Spoon a little bit of the Mushrooms en Fenugreek Black Caraway Tahini Sauce over the Ramen Noodles.
     Pour the remaining sauce and mushrooms around the noodles on the border of the bowl.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches of Sumac Berry Spice over the noodles.
     Place about 1 tablespoon of small chopped red bell pepper on the center of the noodles.
     Place 2 thick slices of Persian Preserved Lemon on the noodles.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin bias sliced green onion slivers over the noodles.

     Viola!  Persian Arabic flavor gourmet Ramen Noodles! 

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