In HG’s last post, the greedy fellow was rhapsodic about pasta. However, with the exception of chow fun, HG did not give sufficient credit to Asia and its many varieties of noodles. Ramen, of course, is the greatest of all noodle soups. (Sorry, Mom in Heaven, it tops your chicken soup with lukshen). HG loves a bowl of Japanese udon noodles topped with pork or chicken. Vietnamese rice noodles are a staple in HG/BSK’s kitchen. Mixed with a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, and a pinch of sambal oelek, they accompany a variety of stir fries. They are the base for great cold chicken salads with Vietnamese flavorings (fish sauce, etc.). Lovely in soups with watercress and slivers of smoked ham. Great cold semi-soup dish is daughter-in-law Exquisite Maiko’s buckwheat soba in a soy broth covered with slivers of nori. Fans of Thai food dote on the pad thai stir fry noodle dish. Unfortunately, HG has never had a good version. Chinese egg noodles (fresh or dried) are used in a number of BSK dishes. They accompany chicken bulgogi (see the David Leibovitz recipe). BSK uses them in stir fries with vegetables, chicken or ground pork. The egg noodles cook fast and have a nice, springy, al dente mouth feel. Are they the noodles Marco Polo brought back to Italy from Cathay?
HG is a passionate devourer of noodles in all their varied forms: Italian pasta, Japanese ramen; Chinese egg and rice noodles (plus rice sticks and cellophane noodles). Also, plain old all-American egg noodles. HG’s Mom would often delight the growing youngster with excellent noodle dishes. “Lukshen kugel” (A baked dish of noodles, onions, garlic and chicken fat. Galician Jews made this dish with sugar and cinnamon. Feh!!). Egg noodles with butter and old fashioned “pot’ cheese. (Still a favorite HG breakfast). Hearty chicken soup with home made noodles. When HG discovered the cheap Chinese restaurants of HG’s youth, Lo Mein became a favorite. HG’s Chinese noodle repertoire expanded to Chow Fun, fiery Chengdu noodles that numbed HG’s lips, fried noodles Singapore- style etc. Japanese ramen is hard to find near HG’s Santa Fe County home. (A good ramen bar opened, made HG happy, closed. Owner moved the eatery to Seattle). HG makes do with Korean (very spicy) instant ramen mixed with Kimchi. Of course, nothing is better than Italian pasta in its almost infinite forms. Number one is BSK’s perfectly prepared spaghetti with virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes (Sometimes BSK adds anchovies which dissolve in the sauce). A runner up is linguine with clams followed by spaghetti carbonara. And, that’s followed by trenette with pesto. HG could go on and on. When feeling sickly, HG is heartened by a bowl of chicken broth mixed with beaten egg, parmesan cheese and pasta in a very tiny form–Orzo. No, HG has not forgotten papardelle with ragu, that lush sauce of long simmered meat, tomatoes, carrots, onions, etc.. That’s what Lesley R. prepared for dinner last night accompanied by a huge green salad. Finished withe cheese and fruit. HG indulged in a dessert of Pandoro with whipped cream as did Massimo R. There was a gift bottle of cognac on the table and the Profesore doused his Pandoro with a goodly pour of that magic liquid, creating an Italian version of Baba au Rhum.
Yes, HG has never outgrown the pleasure of peanut butter and jelly. However, HG has found other splendid uses for peanut butter. One is a Chinese concoction that’s great as a sauce for linguine or spaghettini, chicken or a combo of chicken and pasta. It’s the sauce for the popular hot and spicy dish–Dan Dan Noodles. HG is not going to give you exact proportions for the sauce. Figure it out. Make it your own. Here are the ingredients: smooth organic peanut butter, sesame oil, peanut oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chopped Szechuan preserved vegetables, finely chopped garlic, hot sauce (Sriracha, Thai, Indonesian or other); chopped scallions. Try it with the pasta alone (room temperature or slightly chilled). Poach some chicken, get rid of the skin and bones, shred and mix with the pasta. Or, have the sauced chicken alone with scallions and romaine lettuce (which you can use as a wrap). Also nice as a topping for a crisp, room temperature sauteed skinless chicken breast paillard. Warning: This peanut butter sauce is addictive.