Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Noodle swapping & fart bombs

One of DH’s favorite dishes is Singapore chow may, a curried rice noodle dish, and was jonesing for some on Monday night. Problem was that I didn’t have any thin rice thread. I had thick rice sticks. I had fresh udon noodles. I had dried buckwheat noodles. I had shrimp noodles. I had egg noodles. I even had an imperishable square of ichiban in my cupboards. We are a duet of noodleheads in this house. But I didn’t have any thin rice thread and I had no energy to run to the store.

So I reached for the mung beans noodles, the noodle of a thousand names. Here are some of it’s other aliases: bean threads - cellophane noodles - mung bean threads - translucent noodles - shining noodles - slippery noodles - powdered silk noodles - silver noodles - Chinese vermicelli - transparent noodles - glass noodles - crystal noodles - jelly noodles - transparent vermicelli - green bean thread noodles - invisible noodles - pekyasan - sai fun (Cantonese ) - bai fun (Cantonese) - soo hoon (Cantonese) - su un (Indonesian) - pancit sotanghon (Tagalog) - woon sen (Thai) - bun tao (Vietnamese) - tanghoon (Malaysia).

Mung bean noodles are great fun. They’re soft , almost gelatinous in texture and on their own pretty flavourless. But they absorb flavour really well and cook up in no time. Simple soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes until their soft and transparent. They don’t need much more cooking after that.

This is basically a stir-fry dish so have everything prepped and ready to go. We had some friends pass through at dinner time so this recipe is for 4. For regular Singapore chow mai simply use thin rice threads/noodles instead of the mung bean noodles.

Fast & Dirty Singapore Chow Mai

1/2 small cabbage- shredded. You can use asian or regular cabbages

2 carrots – sliced thin

2 stalks of celery – sliced thin

1 onion – sliced thin

2 green onions- sliced thin

1 red pepper –sliced thin

2 cups mushrooms – I used fresh shitake. You can use regular white button mushrooms or a combination

2 coins of ginger – peeled and chopped fine

4 ounces BBQ pork – sliced thin

1-2 tablespoons curry powder

Chinese cooking wine

Vegetable oil

3 bundles of mung bean noodles

1- Soak noodles in hot water. Put aside. Once softened, cut with scissors.

2- Heat up a couple glugs of oil in a hot wok

3- Drop in BBQ pork, ginger and green onion.

4- Drop in vegetables in this order: onion & mushrooms, carrots, celery, pepper, cabbage. Stir fry for a minute between vegetables before adding the next.

5- Drain noodles and drop into wok. Stir until mixed.

6- Sprinkle in curry powder and mix until incorporated

It only really took about 10 minutes of playing human food processor for the prep and another 10 minutes for the actual cooking. In less than half an hour we all sat down for a simple meal and some great company.

Most of the veggies came from local sources. Call up your nearby veggie farm. Many still have winter veggies to sell you. A little birdie told me that Nanoose Edibles has Jerusalem artichokes right now.

BTW, the noodles stay soft even when they’re cold so leftovers are fine eaten straight out of the fridge. They could even be used as filling for curried version of a thai spring roll or on it’s own as a noodle salad. You could even do a raw veggie salad version of this by simply cooking only the noodles with curry and a bit of finely chopped ginger and adding to some slaw.

Yesterday, I got done with work early (before 1pm) and decided to drag DH down to the Old City Quarter to run a few errands. I fed DH but I don’t usually eat lunch until 3ish and I figured I’d wait until we got back. Of course 2 errands split and grew multiple heads and became several errands. Once we got those done, it was dark and I pretty much gave up on lunch and was fantasizing about all the things I could make for dinner. Then DH got thirsty and wanted to go for a beer run and I was too weak from hunger to protest. At the North Gate beer and wine we found Howe Sound Brewery beer from Squamish! We had lived there for a few years and much of those memories are soaked in Howe Sound Brewery beer. Feeling nostalgic, we picked up a IPA and a brown ale and a few other local treats. They come in these cool brown bottles with a seal spring stopper which can be reused for a million different things. They’re great bottles for homemade infused vinegars and oils.

Back home, with my belly rumbling harmonies to the wind’s blustery dirge, I got started on some dinner. I decided on a chorizo and corn risotto with some pan-fried brussels sprouts. I love Brussels sprouts and luckily, so does DH. I got these from a friend’s garden in exchange for some chard and kale from mine. There’s local Brussels sprouts out there to be had.

When people tell me that they hate these mini-cabbages, I tell them to blame it on their mom or the school cafeteria cook. The problem is that Brussels sprouts release sulphur compounds when overcooked. The brussels sprouts of most childhoods are grey, overboiled little fart bombs. I dodged that bullet. My mom never made Brussels sprouts and luckily, the first time I had Brussels sprouts, it was made by someone who didn’t treat vegetables like heathens during the Spanish Inquisition.

My favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts is to cut them in half and pan fry them in a glug of olive oil over med heat, cut side down. Once they are browned, pour in a glug of water and cover with a tight lid for a minute to flash steam them. Sprinkle salt, pepper and a splash of good balsamic vinegar.

For the risotto, I used a half a chorizo sausage from Quist farms, some local corn that I froze and a pile of grated Little Qualicum raclette cheese and Hilary’s St. Denis cheese.

It’s pretty much the same recipe as my previous risotto. I simply traded the butternut squash for corn and used local cheeses instead.

The savory sausage was countered by the summer sweet corn and it was all wrapped up in the cheese infused creamy rice. The Brussels sprouts were sweet and nutty with a bite of greenness. A great combination of textures and flavours. Luckily, the risotto was piping hot and so I was forced to pace myself or else I would have gobbled up the whole pan. Definitely a keeper.

The sun is actually breaking through here. The humidity is down a bit than the usual 100%. I may have a chance to make some holiday nut brittle today. Yippee!!!

Happy Eating!



George said...

Jen, you owe me a new laptop. You've made me drool all over mine and it shorted out.

Only you could make brussels sprouts look so delicious. I will put aside my brussel sprouts hatred and try your recipe for them. I think I even saw some local ones at Choices!

Gina said...

The poor Brussel Sprout -- so underloved. I will have to take your recipe and try cooking them that way. This weekend, I cooked them with local apples in a splash of chicken broth, and it was a nice cabbage/sweet contrast in the dish. Just a dash of pepper and sea salt.

Mike said...

I made this risotto and brussel sprout combination this evening with sausage from the nanaimo sausage house, homemade broth from my christmas turkey, and local veggies from the shady mile.

So easy and so delicious! Thank you for putting me on to this 100 mile diet by way of your blog!