Jul 12, 2009

July 12th 2009


Got up at a decent time (11:00 A.M.) and headed straight to the pool with no breakfast. Drank a small mango smoothy for energy, which did kick in after the 15th lap or so. Kept it to 20 laps, to avoid overdoing it, I also want to swim again tomorrow. But 1000 yards is over 1/2 mile so I am happy with the work out. After laying in the sun for 20 minutes, and the jacuzzi for another 10 minutes, I drove to the grocery store.

I saw a food show on the travel channel the other day, and noticed that there were many noodle stalls in the Orient that specialized in nothing but ramen style soups. There are also many places in Hawaii and other American cities with the same concept.

There are many kinds of noodles made across the Orient, from buckwheat, soybean, rice, seaweed, and many others. The kind I'm talking about are the instant Ramen noodles you can buy at the grocery store for around 20 cents a pack or less. It is an instant wheat based noodle package that includes a flavor pack which is sort of like chicken bullion. They also make pork, beef, veggie, and seafood flavors just to name a few. Many poor college students live off this stuff. The only problem is that packaged Ramen contains little nutrition and a buttload of salt and MSG. Very little protein, vitamins or minerals can be found in commercial Ramen, but there still is some.

At the store I went through all the possible ingredients (and there are many of them), that could be used to make some hearty Ramen which could serve for a meal. Sounds easy right? Think of a combination of three to six ingredients, that taste great when mixed together, and can be made in one pot. (I added the one pot requirement, because Logan hates it when I shit up all the dishes, and I plan to bring a "Hotpot by Rival" to cook with when I go on vacation).

After racking my brain for the perfect ingredients, and hanging around the produce aisle way too long, I decided on a mixture of shredded cabbage, green onions, fresh cremona mushrooms, tofu, and egg. Look at all the protein, vitamins, and minerals in that combo. Of course this all will be combined with fresh ginger and garlic. I have been thinking about how to do this for several days, and have even scouted the internet for simular Ramen recipes, but this one is unique, and only uses one pot.

This serves one for a full meal with leftovers:

Al's Taoist Divine Inspiration Soup.

2 green onions finely chopped,
1/3 container of firm tofu (4 oz).
5 quarter sized mushrooms (any kind is ok...they all have potassium)
one small handful of shredded coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots) I dont own a grater.
1 large egg
one thumbnail sized chunk of fresh ginger or more if desired (chop it fine)
two normal sized cloves of finely chopped garlic.

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (any vinegar would probably work)
2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar)
soy sauce to taste
Srichaca hot sauce (red pepper oil, crushed red peppers, cayenne pepper) will all work fine..
I like the Srichaca (sp?), since it burned off all my hair a long time ago. It's Vietnamese and deadly hot.
One seventeen cent package of Nissen Ramen noodles, chicken flavor. (or any flavor really)
Few drops of sesame oil (a little goes a long way) tahini works too. Actually feel free to omit this it's not as important as the other stuff.

Marinate the tofu for a few minutes in a bit of soy sauce.
Spray some oil in the bottom of the saucepan, heat to medium, fry the onions, ginger and garlic for a couple minutes, add the tofu for a little while frying on both sides to lock in the flavor.
Add the, sliced mushrooms, and a small handful of cabbage (this is not really a cabbage main dish so take it easy!). Stir a bit.

Since I used the "Rival Hot Pot" it was tough to fry in oil since the metal part on the bottom (the heating element) is about the size of a silver dollar, but I managed by pouring a little water over the cabbage, in order to steam it. THIS THING HEATS WATER FASTER THAN A MICROWAVE SO BE CAREFUL. BUT GO OUT AND BUY ONE FOR 13 BUCKS. THEY ARE GREAT! I fryed on the lowest setting... and used a dab of oil since the Rival company said to not fry in this thing. It's ok as long as you keep it low and fry on the small metal element.

The frying should be pretty light so don't screw up and carmelize anything. The steaming really helped get everything done as much as the initial frying.

Once all the ingredients are fry then steamed, add the vinegar (stir), add a couple shakes of soy (you can add more later), then put in the honey (to balance out the vinegar), and stir a little. Turn the heat down to simmer, add three cups of water, and stir once more, add the ramen flavor packet (not the noodles) and stir once more.
(Cover for 10 minutes. Go have a beer or check your e-mail.)

Turn the heat up till boiling, and add a brick of Ramen noodles (break it in half first), while stirring noodles add the pre-beaten egg, then immediately turn down to simmer. This should only be boiling for a short time, like 30 seconds. Add in some hot sauce, more soy sauce to taste, and finish each bowl with a few drops of sesame oil.

Scoop out noodles, egg, cabbage, tofu and mushrooms, and pour on some broth. Eat with chopsticks and drink the liquid from the bowl. I had two bowls and I am totally full. The myriad of oriental flavors were completely intertwined and perfect in a way that I can't really describe. Divine is the only thing that describes it.

This was the best oriental soup that I have ever tasted. I will eat this once a day!

The entire meal was less than a dollar, and I still have 1/2 a bowl left. And no being tired from eating a giant plate of meat or carb based food. This is a break through for our families daily diet.

Once the tofu is gone, I plan to make this with a seafood base, since there are so many places I can take this recipe. I could start a small restaurant selling nothing but this dish and a few spring rolls.

After lunch, I had enough energy left to clean the entire house including the dog. Logan helped me quite a bit, we really are a good team. The dog is now walking around all "butt hurt" since he has never had a bath before, we turned several shades of white in the bathing process. Next time I'll probably pay someone else to do it. The tap water here is cold as hell, and the dog appears to be emotionally disturbed from the experience.

Been a great day for me. Probably not so much for Logan and the dog, but the house is clean including the refrigerator, and my dog smells a hell of a lot better.

Lao Tzu says: Make a pot out of clay, but it is the space within that makes it useful.