Cafe Lota, at the National Crafts Museum - As I was telling you, one of the most memorable meals I have partaken in the recent past has been at this, relatively new, cafe attached to the National Cr...
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Just yesterday, when three-morsel-eater wanted more of her snackies, I found myself wishing for a Bot. Ahhh ... He/She would cook, clean, feed hungry little ones, and me. Change channels from HGTV to Travel in a jiffy. Change my socks, bathe me too. Er ... maybe that's going too far, even for a house-bot.
But, you get my point.
In this okole-freezing weather that's what every house needs, to pick up the slack, while you are buried under layers of sweaters, duvets, thermals and other woolies. Some passageway for the eyes to see television. Of course, somewhere to breathe from, and also a long, long, straw dipped into the never-ending-fountain-of-hot-chocolate-and-youth. And, then when it's time to eat, you are evacuated by said Bot into this warm, cozy bubble of a thing; the food here will take you back eons of years ago. Every morsel reminiscent of grandma's cooking ... ahhh.
But, what would happen to a body accustomed to only eating, drinking and watching tv? Still, in the bubble, people! Still in the bubble.
You know, we should be like those bears and chipmunks that hibernate during winter. That's so smart! No foraging for food = no cooking either. Not that they cook anyway, everything is salmon sashimi or peanuts. Frankly, I am seriously considering both.
Me: What's that, honey? I have a flu-flaw. What flu-flaw is the man talking about? That's exactly why you don't act like James Bond and shovel snow without a monkey-cap! Flu-flaw, indeed!
An epiphany ... and two minutes later ...
... Me: Oh! A food blog. Right. My food blog.
So, here I am blogging. Beyond stiff. But, cooking and blogging.
Happy 2010, everyone! Summer is not that beyond. Four months of frozen buttocks isn't that long, anyway. (FOUR MONTHS!)
♣ Slurrrp ... And Eat
Nothing can warm the cockles of the soul like a bowl of noodle soup, on a cold winter's night. And if its simple, and quicker to make, than wearing socks, I say eat first. Wear socks later. This recipe comes from one of my go-to Chinese cookbooks, "Authentic Recipes from China," by Kenneth Law, Lee Cheng Meng and Max Zhang, that I keep right next to my Ruchira, and Gordon Ramsay. I have adapted the following recipe for Hot and Spicy Sichuan Noodles, to suit the ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator. It's so versatile that you can easily do a switch-a-roo and no one would be the wiser. According to the authors, this noodle-dish is a favorite street-food in China, sold by hawkers on the go, or "mobile vendors."
Hot and Spicy Sichuan Noddles or Dan Dan Mian
Adapted from Authentic Recipes from China by Kenneth Law, Lee Cheng Meng and Max Zhang
1/2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns or Sansho pepper (I substituted with chilli flakes)
1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp oil
8 oz (250 g) ground pork (I substituted chicken for pork and used this delicious authentic egg- roll stuffing from Steamy Kitchen; the stuffing tastes good even without any meat)
2 C (500 ml) chicken stock
1/2 C (125 g) preserved, salted radish, diced or 1/2 C of julienned parsnips (I found the Chinese salted radish a bit too fishy because of the oil used for preservation; parsnips were a wonderful, sweet replacement)
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp black vinegar
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp sesame oil (I used sesame-chili oil)
1 tsp chili oil (optional if you can find sesame-chili oil)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 lb (500 g) fresh wheat flour noodles or 8 oz (250 g) dried flat wheat noodles (Egg Fettuccine also works well)
4 spring onions, thinly sliced as garnish
On a low-flame, heat a small pan or wok. Roast the peppercorns or sansho pepper or chilli flakes for two-three minutes. Pour in the peanut oil, and allow to "cook over low heat for 10 minutes to infuse the oil with the flavor of the peppercorns," or chilli flakes. Then, cool completely, strain and leave it be.
Heat oil in the same pan or wok, and "stir-fry the pork for two-three minutes, or until cooked." If using chicken, be careful to cook the chicken on medium heat until it is cooked through-and-through, but still moist. Or simply, follow the steps of the egg-roll stuffing as given here.
"Combine the chili-flake/peppercorn oil, chicken stock," parsnips or "preserved radish, soy sauce, black vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, chili oil and white pepper in a saucepan. Keep warm over medium heat."
In a huge stock-pot of boiling water, sprinkle in some salt, and pour in the flat noodles. "Fresh noodles will take about two-minutes, dried noodles about four." Drain and run some cold water over the noodles, spooning them into serving bowls. Ladle in the "hot broth, top with pork," or chicken or mushroom-carrot medley, and "garnish with spring onion." Slurrrrp. And eat.