Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ramen Noodle Bowl ~ Crab Roe Stuffed Fish Balls, Surimi, Wakame and Wood Ear Mushrooms

     A Gourmet Ramen Noodle Bowl!
     A package of Ramen Noodles does not have to be a boring meal.  Gourmet Ramen Noodle creations are still a popular trend.  There are several noodle house restaurants in Las Vegas that specialize traditional Ramen entrées and cutting edge Ramen creations.  Some of the Ramen creations simply make use of new combinations of traditional ingredients and this suits customers that have conservative tastes.   
     There really are no rules to obey when creating a gourmet Ramen Noodle recipe.  Just like any creation, it is best to stick with a theme.  The theme for today's gourmet ramen creation is health oriented and the noodle bowl features some popular Surimi fish meal products. 
     Surimi is made with dried fish meal.  The fish meal paste can be shaped in endless ways.  Surimi is known as Imitation Crab Meat in mainstream America, because it is shaped like Snow Crab Legs or Flaked Alaskan Crab Meat.  From a marketing standpoint, the word "imitation" has negative connotations.  Grocers that realize that traditional Asian style Surimi product shapes are in demand now stock a few of these products in the specialty food section of the store.  The round cylinder shaped Surimi that has decorative colors appeals to home cooks that like making Asian style noodle bowls and soups.  
     To find a wider variety of Surimi products, one simply has to go shopping at an Asian food market.  There are thousands of Surimi products that can be found in an Asian market.  Pre-made Surimi Fish Balls are a popular choice and some of the Fish Ball products can be quite fancy.  Crab Roe Stuffed Fish Balls are a gourmet style Surimi product that can add pizzaz to recipe creation.  Often the Crab Roe Fish Balls are a dumpling shape that adds eye appeal.  When the Surimi Fish Ball is cut open, the orange color Crab Roe appears.  The mild flavor of Crab Roe appeals to those that do not like strong tasting fish egg flavors.
     Traditional Surimi cylinder shaped rolls that have colorful designs can be purchased at Asian food markets too.  The Pink Swirl Surimi roll that I used for today's recipe is also used as a garnish in noodle house restaurants.  Saimin Soup is a good example of a traditional recipe that is nearly always garnished with slices of Pink Swirl Surimi.  
     Even though today's recipe looks like a soup, it is usually called a Noodle Bowl.  Broth noodle bowls are popular, because the high proportion of broth helps to quickly revitalize nutrients that the body is lacking.
     Today's Gourmet Ramen Noodle recipe is easy to make and there are no special cooking techniques, other than separating the yolk and white of one egg.  The egg garnish does have to be fried in a separate pan.  The Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms can be soaked in a refrigerator ahead of time, so this recipe can be finished in less than 15 minutes.  A nutritious noodle bowl is great for those who are on the go!   

     Ramen Noodle Bowl ~ Crab Roe Stuffed Fish Balls, Surimi, Wakame and Wood Ear Mushrooms:
     This recipe yields 1 large noodle bowl entrée.
     Crab Roe Stuffed Fish Balls available as a pre-made frozen product at Asian food markets.
     Step 1:  Soak 4 or 5 dried Wood Ear Mushrooms in a container with 2 cups of water overnight in a refrigerator, so they fully reconstitute.  (These dried mushrooms will become quite large after they are soaked!)
     Drain off the water.
     Cut the mushrooms into thin slices.
     Step 2:  Separate the white and yolk of 1 large egg into two separate bowls.
     Whisk the white and yolk in the separate bowls.
     Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add the white to the hot pan and cook it on both sides, till it is fully cooked but not browned.
     Set the cooked egg white on a cutting board.
     Cook the egg yolk the same way and set it on a cutting board.
     Cut the cooked egg yolk and egg white into thin ribbons and keep them separated from each other.
     Step 3:  Boil 3 1/4 cups of light fish broth in a large sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Add 1 tablespoon of tiny dried shrimp.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped rinsed Salt Packed Dried Wakame Seaweed.
     Add the prepared sliced Wood Ear Mushrooms.
     Add 3 Crab Roe Stuffed Surimi Fish Balls.  (The stuffed fish balls can be thawed or added frozen.) 
     Boil till the Wakame Seaweed reconstitutes.  (About 5 minutes.)
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 cup of rice wine (Sake).
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon drops of pure sesame oil.
     Add about 1/6 cup of thin carrot sticks.
     Add 1 pinch of five spice powder.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Add 1 portion of Ramen Noodles to the broth.
     Boil till the noodles are tender.
     *Check the amount of broth, because it will reduce while boiling.  There should be about 2 1/3 cups of broth in the pot after the noodles cook.  Add a spash of hot water if the level of broth is too low.
     Step 5:  Cut 5 or 6 slices of fancy Pink Swirl Surimi Roll that are about 3/16" thick.
     Add the Surimi slices to the broth.
     Wait about 30 seconds, so the Surimi warms up. 
     Step 6:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the broth, noodles and ingredients into a large wide soup bowl.
     Use tongs or kitchen chopsticks to gather the Ramen Noodles in the center of the bowl.
     Try to expose the Crab Roe Stuffed Fish Balls on top of the noodles.
     Try to expose a few slices of the fancy Surimi slices on the surface of the broth.
     Step 7:  Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of very thin sliced onion strips on the surface of the broth.
     Place the fried egg yolk ribbons and fried egg white ribbons on opposite sides of the bowl.
     Garnish with a sprig of cilantro or parsley.
     *Serve with chopsticks and an Asian style soup spoon!

     Ramen Noodles do not just have to just be college student survival food!  Ramen Noodles can be turned into a very appealing healthy meal!         

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Miso Hawaiian Chops

     Miso Hawaiian!      
     Pacific rim fusion cuisine has been popular since the 1990's.  Many great cooking ideas came from the creative fusion trend.  The western world chefs that took the time to learn how the Asian ingredients and cooking techniques were traditionally applied, seemed to fare better than those who did not.  A formal cross-cultural cuisine education enables chefs to design fusion food items that appeal to a wider marketing sector.     
     French Asian fusion cuisine can be sophisticated or very simple.  Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches are a good example of simple fusion cuisine at its best.  Another simple style that is still successful is fusion comfort food.  The Fat Choy Restaurant in Las Vegas is a prime example of how Asian cuisine flavors and cooking styles can be incorporated with classic American diner food to create comfortable new food items that appeal to a wide range of guests.         
     The theme for today's Miso Hawaiian Chops is a fusion of American diner style Hawaiian comfort food combined with Japanese ingredients.  In a classic American diner, Hawaiian style comfort food is usually pork chops with some kind of a sweet pineapple sauce that is thickened with corn starch and garnished with Maraschino Cherries.  This Hawaiian Pork Chops entrée was popular shortly after WWII and it is still offered as a "Blue Plate Special" at some diners to this day.
     Now that the dining public has become more sophisticated, more Asian ingredients can be incorporated into American diner style comfort food to create fusion comfort cuisine.  Most people are now familiar with Miso Paste, so this easy to recognize item is a good choice for flavoring pork chops.  Since the old diner style cornstarch thickened pineapple glaze for pork or ham is thoroughly worn out, creating something more appealing to take its place fits in with the modern fusion comfort food theme.  Even so, the main ingredient must be pineapple because of the association of this tropical fruit with Hawaii meets customer expectations.  
     Thinking up a flashy name for an entrée is part of the modern fusion comfort food game.  The word "Miso" has endless possibilities when applied in a fun entertaining way.  Fusion comfort food is meant to be fun and entertaining, especially when served in a modern noodle house restaurant atmosphere.  An entrée name like "Miso Hawaiian Chops" definitely sounds funny enough to capture the attention of guests!  

     Miso Marinated Pork Chops Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty portion.  (2 pork chops)
     Step 1:  Place 3 tablespoons of Red Miso Paste in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 cup of warm water while whisking.  
     Whisk till blended and smooth.
     Step 2:  Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of blended sesame oil.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Select 2 pork chops with the bone attached that weigh about 6 to 8 ounces apiece.  
     Place the pork chops in the marinade.
     Toss the pork chops with the marinade, so they are evenly coated.
     Place the pork chops and marinade in a container.  
     Marinate in a refrigerator for 1 hour.
     Cumin Spiced Potatoes:  
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     I chose Cumin Potatoes instead of rice for an accompaniment in the photo examples.  If you prefer rice, then by all means, skip this recipe and cook 1 portion of rice!   
     Step 1:  Cut 1 small 5 ounce peeled russet potato into thick slices.  
     Place the potato in a sauce pot with enough water to cover the potatoes.
     Place the pot over medium high heat and bring the water to a gentle boil.
     Blanch the potato till it is halfway cooked.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Drain the water off of the potato.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted butter.
     Add the blanched potato slices.
     Sauté till a few golden highlights appear on the potatoes.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of cumin.
     Gently sauté till the potatoes are fully cooked.
     Keep the Cumin Potatoes warm over very low heat.

     Spicy Pineapple Sauté Topping: 
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.  (1 generous portion)
     The Spicy Pineapple Topping should be made just before the pork chops are served. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger.
     Briefly sauté till the garlic and ginger is fragrant, but not browned.
     Step 2:  Add about 1/6 cup of julienne sliced Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 julienne sliced red jalapeño pepper.  (Remove the seeds and pulp.)
     Sauté till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 1 1/4 cups of large diced pineapple chunks.  (1/2" cubes)
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté till a few light brown highlights appear. 
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1 ounce of dry rice wine. 
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
     Stir the ingredients as the liquid comes to a boil.
     Step 5:  Rapidly simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates and the thin sauce glazes the pineapple chunks.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the Spicy Pineapple Topping warm on a stove top. 
     Miso Hawaiian Chops:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty entrée.
     Modern fusion comfort food tends to be served as big hearty portions, just like old fashioned American diner food.  Today's Miso Hawaiian Chops entrée is big enough for 2 guests to share, if petite portions are preferred.  Sharing an entrée is an Asian social dining tradition.
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron ribbed griddle or a chargrill to a medium/medium hot temperature.
     Brush the grill with oil.
     Step 2:  Remove the 2 pork chops from the Red Miso Paste Marinade and brush off any excess marinade.
     Place the pork chops on the chargrill.
     Grill the miso marinated pork chops till they are marked with a cross-check pattern on both sides.
     *Only mark the pork chops with grill marks at this time.    
     Step 3:  Place the marked grilled pork chops on a roasting pan.
     Place the pan in a 325ºF oven.
     Roast till the pork chops are fully cooked.
     Remove the pan from the oven and keep it warm on a stove top.   
     Step 4:  Mound the Cumin Potatoes (or steamed rice) on the center of an oval serving plate.
     Place the Miso Pork Chops on opposite sides of the plate, so the bones lean against the potatoes.
     Mound a generous portion of the Spicy Pineapple Sauté Topping over the pork chop bones and potatoes on the center of the plate.
     Garnish with a sprig of Italian Parsley or cilantro.

     Fusion comfort food makes miso hungry!