Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Japanese Noodles Dress Up Meal




Japanese Noodles 
Adding Flair and Flavor to Japanese Ramen Noodles

Just because one is on a budget - a single person, parents, elderly, a student - does not mean food must be plain, bland and without options! Many people choose ramen noodles as a single or family meal, and I am one of them.  However, rather than use the flavor packet the ramen comes with, I opt to regulate what goes into the "broth", manage the sodium added as well as use fresh vegetables and herbs. I am on a low sodium, low sugar nutritional adventure, for the health of it, and I found this meal a perfect place to practice what I preach....to an extent. You know me, I cannot do Anything without a little taste bud excitement! Let me tell you how I "dressed up" my ramen dinner, adding flair and flavor to a very simple meal, and how I managed the ingredients. 

First, I like a well-balanced meal, but I had no meat thawed or ready to use, and while I knew I was going to get protein from a couple of eggs, I wanted something with a bite of flavor.  I had bacon, already halved from a previous meal, and seared it up low and slow, slathered with a mixture of plum and hoisin sauces, draining the fat renderings often, which allowed the caramelized process. I added a toasted sesame and nori rice topping mix to the bacon, adding yet another distinct flavor layer. This takes about eighteen minutes.  Bacon can be baked, but when adding a sauce to it, I have been unsuccessful baking it so that a sauce can caramelize.  


In addition to making a sort of candied bacon with plum sauce and hoisin sauces, I also very coarsely chopped an onion, slivered garlic and plucked off several fresh parsley leaves and a couple of little thyme sprigs. I also set aside two eggs.  I love eggs with Japanese noodles. 

Partly following the directions on the package, I bring 1.75 cups of water or chicken broth to a boil with the garlic slices and a teaspoon of chili sauce, add the noodle square and the onion.  After a minute, I add one tablespoon of citrus shoyu (soy sauce), a teaspoon of garlic powder and onion powder and a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper. Despite the fresh aromatics in the broth, I like to add a little bit more of the same flavors in powdered form. I do not add salt, as a rule, due to the shoyu, and today, because of the bacon.  


Meanwhile, I crack the eggs over the softening noodle square, not breaking up the noodles, and allow them solidify. The aroma was and always is quite amazing! 



After three-to-five minutes over high heat, I turn off the heat and allow the hot pot to cool off for ten minutes. Afterward, I take out the noodles, place the onions and eggs atop the noodles, slide in the meat on the side, in this case, the candied bacon, and I topped tonight's meal with fresh parsley and thyme and a bit more of the toasted sesame nori rice topping. 


However you decide to dress up your ramen, be it adding vegetables, leftover meats, or, just eat it as is, my goal with this recipe blog post is to help you realize you are not tied to that flavor packet - which IS good - but not good for those of us with dietary restrictions, especially sodium restrictions. You have options to dress it up, add your own taste palette and flair to it. Go experiment with it!  Have fun with it!  Find your favorite flavor combinations! 

********************

A few days after this initial post, I decided to make mustard curried lamb and, when deciding what to serve it with, I decided to take a risk and serve it with Japanese noodles.  I certainly loved it and decided to update this humble blog post.  I marinated the lamb shoulder steaks in a special grilling sauce made by my favorite brewer, and seared the meat.  It was delightful.  It is funny, my youngest son and I are the only ones who like lamb in our entire family, both maternal and paternal sides.  



After allowing the steaks to rest several minutes, several LONG minutes, I sliced the meat from the bone.  I had decided to not use the delicious, but overly salty (for my dietary need) flavor packet and instead, I added the lamb bones to the pot of water for the noodles, along with onion, garlic and fresh parsley, thus creating a flavorful lamb broth.  It was wickedly tasty!  After removing the bones and having brought the water to a roiling boil over high heat, I added the noodle square, and a bit more fresh onion and garlic.  I added eggs and, after about three minutes, I turned off the heat and added some of the lamb meat.  The curry and mustard flavors were incredibly aromatic and added an intricate flavor to the noodles.  If you are not a fan of lamb, use whatever meat you wish, IF you wish to use meat at all!  Fish with a sprinkle of nori and toasted sesame seeds is also wonderful. Make it your own!  Fresh vegetables and meats are best, but leftovers dress up a meal of noodles in a fantastic manner. 



My "plating" apparently in need of practice and better elegance.  One of my early mentors thought it was a really awful ice cream sundae, at first look.  I will do my best to spruce up my plating.  In the meantime, despite that, the dish was wonderful.  

With that, go cook ramen for someone you love!


As always, Thank You for your time and readership and viewership!  I am grateful for all of you and your support!  

~Martin
In-House Cook