|she snaps a picture
he waits, steam rising quickly
a bowl of noodles
|In winter the sky is a dull white dome, and staring out at the half-lit shadowless landscape while eating noodles,
|I console myself thinking that as long as there is pasta in the world, I’m okay.
|One can put just about anything on noodles (except perhaps coffee or chocolate—it’s up to you, reader, to Google). I wanted Japanese flavors on udon, so I modified Ms. Shimbo’s recipe for stir-fried rice with black kikurage.
|a bowl of soup
she slurps a noodle, he smiles
steam obscures his face
|Kikurage is a fungus sometimes called wood ear. It is crunchy (almost) with very little flavor:
|that is, it provides an interesting texture to a dish without getting soggy.
|Ms. Shimbo’s recipe calls for chozume, but that is better known as a Chinese sausage called lap cheong. It’s made from pork with a high content of fat—sweetened, seasoned and dried like salami.
Kikuage Yaki Udon
based on Kikurage Cha-han page 116
- 1 large (2 inch) dried black kikurage
- a dozen sugar snap peas
- ⅓ cup sweet red pepper, julienned
- 2 eggs (I didn’t use them, but they add nice color and protein)
- 4 large shrimp
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 3 ounces chozume (Chinese sausage) or other firm sausage, cubed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 scallions (both green and white parts), cut into thin disks
- udon for 2 people
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Soak the kikurage in lukewarm water until it is softened, drain, cut off tough stem, and cut the rest into thin strips.
In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the pea pods and sweet red pepper sticks for 3 minutes. Drain and reserve. Cook and peel the shrimp.
If you are using eggs: Heat a wok over moderately high heat, and add 2 Tablespoons of the vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook the eggs until they are 80% done, giving several large stirs during the cooking. Transfer the eggs to a plate.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the udon. Drain and rinse.
Reduce the heat to medium, and add 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil and the sesame oil to the wok. Add the sausage, and cook it, stirring occasionally, until it is crisp. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Drain the peas and kikurage, and add them to the pan with the scallions. Stir over high heat for a minute. Add the cooked udon, and cook it until it’s heated through, stirring thoroughly. Return the cooked egg to the wok, break it into small pieces with your spatula, and toss it thoroughly with the other ingredients. Season the mixture to taste with salt, tamari, and pepper. Serve.
steam rises above
a bowl of noodles, he smiles
she sighs with pleasure