“Classed up” ramen

My husband makes a face whenever I mention this “recipe”, but my daughter and I love it, so it’s going in the blog! It’s not really a recipe, just a way to make Ramen a little more interesting. Also, it’s really good, like surprisingly good. Like, you won’t understand how good it is until you actually try it. Seriously.

ramen

You can also add frozen peas and/or carrots if you want to pretend it’s healthy!

I like to keep ramen in the house for emergencies and cravings. I’m partial to the roast chicken flavor, but it works with any of the basic meat varieties, and even the mysterious “oriental” flavor. Don’t try this with any of those weird tomato or cheese ramens. I have no idea what will happen, but it won’t be good.
Start by making ramen according to directions, but then throw caution to the wind and add a Tablespoon each of sriracha and creamy peanut butter. Sprinkle some chopped scallions on top for fancy, and you have a shortcut version of noodles in spicy peanut sauce!

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Sesame Noodles

Despite being a white American girl from the suburbs, I have a special love of all Asian foods. I wonder sometimes if I was Asian in a previous life because it’s what I want, it’s what I crave.

sesame

This lovely recipe came to me from a website that had it listed as a basic side dish. I’ve revamped it a bit and turned it into a main course.

First, start off with your ingredients

  1. 10 oz Chinese noodles (They look like ramen noodles, but better. They should be in the international section of your grocery store.)
  2. 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces. I have also used Gai-lan (aka Chinese broccoli) with great success. 
  3. 6-8 scallions, sliced, with the white parts set aside.
  4. 1-2″ chunk of fresh ginger, grated on a plane grater
  5. 1 cup teriyaki sauce (I like Soy Vey, but whatever you like is fine)
  6. 1/4 cup rice vinegar (be careful here, a little goes a long way)
  7. 6 tsp honey or sugar
  8. 4 tsp sesame oil
  9. vegetable oil for stir frying
  10. Sriracha, bean sprouts, green parts of scallions, fried egg for topping

Start off by cooking noodles according to package directions. Most cook in about 3 minutes due to some kind of magic, so don’t leave them unattended. Rinse them in cold water and set aside. Mix a little vegetable or peanut oil in with the noodles to prevent sticking.

Combine ginger, teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and sesame oil together in a bowl. Make sure you mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk to incorporate the honey/sugar. Otherwise, it will sink to the bottom and form a syrup that you’ll have to scrape out. Set the sauce mix aside and heat up your wok.

Stir fry the white parts of the scallions and asparagus until they’re warm, softened, and the color is vibrant. Mix the sauce in and let it thicken and slightly reduce. Add noodles to the mix and stir fry until they’re evenly coated with the sauce mix and warmed through. Drizzle more sesame oil as you cook to add flavor to your taste, but be careful. Just a few drops have an intense flavor.

Serve in shallow bowls, topped with fresh bean sprouts, the green parts of the scallion, a good helping of sriracha, and I’m not kidding here, a fried egg. Make sure the yolk is runny and mix it all together. The flavor combination here is magical. I’ve made this with grilled chicken on top instead of the egg, and it just isn’t the same. Make the egg and you can thank me later.

 

 

Basic Fried Rice

fliedliceFried rice is a nice dish to make because it’s versatile, inexpensive, and usually stretches into another meal or two with leftovers. I like to make a big pan of fried rice so I can have it for lunches during the week, or send it with Mr. B for his work lunches.

The first rule of fried rice is that there are no rules. No wait, is that right? Maybe it’s that you don’t talk about fried rice? No, that’s not it either. Oh yeah, now I remember. The first rule of fried rice is that you do not use fresh rice. Heed my warning before it’s too late. Do whatever else you want with your ingredients, but the true secret to good fried rice to make sure you use day old rice. I make mine the night before, spread it out on a baking sheet, and put it in the refigerator until I’m ready to use it, then right before throwing it in the wok, I use my hands to break up the clumps of rice that have formed until I have a uniform, fluffy consistency. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here is what you’ll need:

Hardware:

  1. A wok. Mine is steel and I seasoned it myself in a tedious, smoky session on my stovetop with vegetable oil and a pastry brush. You can probably use a large fry pan too, but I’ve had the best luck with a wok.
  2. A rice cooker, or pan big enough to accomodate a large amount of rice. I usually go with 4 cups uncooked because I cook for a small army most of the time. If you like rice, though, get a rice cooker. You’ll never look back.
  3. A wooden or silicone utensil that won’t mess up your beautifully seasoned wok.

Ingredients:

  1. Vegetable or peanut oil for stir frying. Basically any oil that can stand up to the high heats required.
  2. Cooked rice. Whatever 4 cups of uncooked will get you. Make sure it’s day old, cold rice.
  3. 1 yellow onion, diced.
  4. 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed.
  5. 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced.
  6. 3-4 eggs, beaten (leave out if trying to make vegetarian or vegan)
  7. 1 cup frozen peas
  8. 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  9. 1/4 cup of chinese rice wine, sherry, dry white wine, or even sake
  10. A few drops of sesame oil (a little goes a long way)
  11. 1/2 tsp fish sauce (seriously, it improves everything!) If you don’t have fish sauce, or don’t want to buy a bottle of fish sauce, it won’t hurt the recipe. If you do a lot of Asian cooking, however, get the fish sauce.
  12. 1/4 cup chicken broth
  13. 1 bunch of scallions, chopped, for garnish
  14. Fresh bean sprouts, for garnish

Chop and prep everything in advance before you start cooking. This dish goes very quickly, and if you get hung up on chopping one thing, you might burn another, so get it ready first. Chop veggies, beat eggs, and combine soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, fish sauce, and chicken broth in a bowl. Have it ready!

Heat wok on medium high heat until hot and add vegetable oil by drizzling down the side. Swirl to coat the bottom evenly and turn the heat down to medium.

Few things look as awful as a seasoned, well-loved wok

First, before anything else, scramble the eggs in the wok and remove to a plate. Add a little more oil, then add the onions and garlic, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Cook until they’re soft and fragrant, then throw in the carrots and stir fry until warm and softer. Don’t cook them until they’re mush, make sure they still have a little crunch left in them. Remove onions, garlic, and carrots from wok and set aside. I usually just dump them in a tupperware container temporariliy. Remember too, you can use any vegetables you like in this dish. Carrots and peas are just what I use.

Add a Tablespoon or so of vegetable/peanut oil and swirl again. This time add the rice and start stir frying again. Try not to let it get smashed and burned to the bottom of the wok. I had this happen recently, and it was devastating. Just keep things gentle and easy with your stir frying. When the rice is nearly done, add the vegetables back into the mix. 

Add the sauce mixture and stir gently until cooked and warmed through. At the VERY end, dump in the frozen peas and stir them in. Since they’re already cooked, you just need to thaw them.

This dish is versatile in that you can add almost any meat. I usually cook chicken breasts separately, then chop them into cubes and mix the meat into the fried rice. You can also do this with beef, pork, shrimp, turkey, duck, whatever you like! Here is my method for cooking perfect chicken breast if you’re interested.

Serve in shallow bowls and top with fresh, chopped scallions, fresh bean sprouts, soy sauce, and lots (and lots) of sriracha.