On Eating and Loving Food

Noodles, etc.

Posted:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 11:45am
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No matter how you look at it, noodles are good. They’re comforting. They’re soft and chewy. They’re fattening ...

Noodles can be a base for pretty much anything. What is pasta? Noodles. Remember chicken noodle soup? Probably the first soup many of us remember. It was good at the time, but really kinda yukky now that my tastes are so much more sophisticated :-)

And how about spaghetti. Does anybody call pasta spaghetti anymore, though it is actually one of the different shapes of pasta. Spaghetti is a long, thin, solid, cylindrical pasta.

I got a hankering for Thai noodles recently. I don’t remember why. Maybe Sue Mello whipped up a Thai noodle dish and texted me a photo. That’s usually all it takes: See a picture, it looks good, I have to have it.

I went out and bought a package of Thai cellophane noodles and whipped up a pan-fried feast of them, with soy sauce, garlic, fresh ginger, sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds, scallions, and a little dab Ah-So Sauce (remember that?).

So simple, and so good. Just follow the directions on the package for “cooking” them in boiling water, then go crazy. It’s good to start with some sesame oil, garlic, ginger and soy sauce, but after that it’s a free for all.

Whatever veggies and/or meat you have in the fridge, cut ’em up and throw  ’em in!

That time I decided to make them vegetarian, and pan-fried some panko-coated boneless chicken breast in olive oil to go on the side. Needless to say I enjoyed a manhattan while cooking (so much fun!!!) and had a glass of red wine – a malbec – with dinner.

I know – it was a white dinner, but who cares? Not I.

Most of you know by now that I’m not a wine snob by any stretch of the imagination. If you don’t believe me ask one of the friends who recently attended a wine tasting with me at Bernie’s Joint in Damariscotta. We each contributed a bottle of wine, and wine expert Jenn Hallet Chipman disguised them in brown paper bags.

I was hoping to call out the wine snobs with my bottle of Two Buck Chuck, but it backfired on me. Not a single fake in the bunch. Jon Lewis took a sip, and was, like, “Eeuw, what’s this? Kool Aid?” Others dumped theirs out.

I dumped out the one served after that, just to be a brat.

Anyway.

I have signed up to receive emails, complete with recipes, from bon appetit! Last week I got one for Better-Than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon. Went back to Hannaford for udon noodles, cabbage, ground pork, more scallions (the older ones had rotted), and some mirin. I had the rest of the ingredients in my pantry :-).

I had to google mirin. First up: “What Is Mirin? And what to use if you can't find any,” from bon appetit: “Mirin is a subtly sweet Japanese rice wine. And if you don't have a bottle in your pantry, you're missing out.” (Haha – bon appetit just assumes everyone has a pantry).

I did have rice wine in my pantry, and would have subbed it if mirin proved to be too pricey, but it’s not, so I grabbed a bottle.

Here’s the recipe: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 4 cups very coarsely chopped green cabbage (I shredded mine, just because), 7-ounce packages instant udon noodles, 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil, 8 oz. ground pork, 5 scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced, 2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger, 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, ⅓ cup mirin, ⅓ cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add cabbage and cook, tossing often, until edges are browned. Remove from heat and set skillet aside.

Place udon in a large bowl or pot, and cover with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit 1 minute, stirring to break up noodles, then drain. Toss with sesame oil. Throw cabbage in with noodles.

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in same skillet and add pork, breaking up and spreading across the pan. Cook undisturbed, until underside is brown, about 3 minutes. (The pork won’t brown if you’re fussing with it the whole time.

When browned, break it into small bits. Cook, tossing, just until there’s no more pink. Add chopped scallions (the pale parts), ginger, and red pepper. Continue to cook, tossing often, until scallions are softened and bottom of skillet has started to brown, about 1 minute. Add udon mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are coated in sauce (be sure to scrape bottom of skillet to dissolve any browned bits), about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and fold in 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds and dark-green parts of scallions. Top with more sesame seeds before serving.

This stuff was good! So please just do it!

See ya next week.