I cannot get enough ramen. It’s just stupidly good, easy to make and fun to try variations of. Today was pretend Fathers Day – that is a pretend version of real Fathers Day, not one for pretend fathers. That said, if you want to make it that, too, it’s OK by me. Sister and I went to visit and I made us all some dinner – what else would I make but ramen? Yet another good thing about it is that it’s easy to multiply up or down, depending how many you want to feed, without figuring out any weights or such – the way I make it is like that, anyway. I won’t bang on about it too much more, but I’ll mention a couple of differences in today’s version, and I have pics to share, too. It’s really amazing how many pictures I now have of bowls of noodle soup; perhaps amazing isn’t so much the right word as ‘ridiculous’ or ‘baffling’.
Today’s version had chicken breast, which was poached for fifteen minutes in water with light soy, spring onion, garlic and ginger to make the dashi, then glazed with sweet chili sauce before serving. Another addition that I hadn’t tried before is sliced radish, which I dropped on top of the soup at the end to keep its crunch and peppery flavour. I love the look of radishes, and their clean, earthy flavour. Plus their skin is almost purple, which is my favourite colour. Some might say it was pink – I would let them say that, but secretly when they said it I would be saying ‘purple’ in my head. There is also sweetheart cabbage and a handful of beansprouts in the soup, so it’s really pretty nutritious and has plenty of texture. Finally, there was some of my latest favourite – preserved mustard greens.
The other chicken dish that I have to report on was kind of a happy accident, in some ways. I had all the ingredients for a chicken stirfry, but I wanted to make the chicken a bit interesting. There were three breasts (not a common start to a sentence) and I decided to marinade them for a short while before cooking – only an hour or so. I covered them in Shaoxing wine (two capfuls), dark soy (enough to give colour), a few turns of the salt/pepper/chili/garlic mill and a drizzle of honey on each side. While they were taking on the flavours I prepared some garlic, ginger, mushrooms, chilis, spring onions, some frozen peas and a handful of beansprouts, which I later stir-fried with some cooked rice, and seasoned with light soy, sesame oil and spring onion oil. This rice and veg served as a bed for the chicken when I served it – platform might be a more appropriate word, as the chicken wasn’t sitting on the plate long enough to get any decent rest before it was whipped away by our hungry chopsticks. That, my friends, is an example of a transferred epithet – oh yes, those years of education were not wasted after all.
After the chicken breasts had been marinading for an hour, I put them on a hot griddle pan, for ten minutes on each side. It was a smokey endeavour, with the honey caramelising on the pan, but it also smelled really savoury and boozy, which I found promising. However, once I’d sliced up the chicken, I found that the largest breast was suspiciously soft-looking in the middle. Not pink, but just a bit squidgy. I have the Fear about under cooking chicken or pork, so I tossed the slices back into the griddle pan to sear for an extra thirty seconds on each side. As they cooked through, they inevitably took on more of the honey-soy glaze from the pan, leaving them a lovely dark brown colour on all fronts. I layered these slices, alternating with some single-glazed, white on the inside slices, on top of the rice.The result of the marinading and griddling was soft, moist chicken that tasted tangibly of Shaoxing wine, had a hint of sweet honey and then a pleasantly salty hit from the soy. The ginger, garlic and chili in the rice gave nice sweetness and heat to add to the balance of flavours, and then the crunch from the veg contrasted nicely with the soft meat. In all, I feel pretty smug about this dinner – even more so because the leftovers, which formed a full third portion, proved too irresistable and were eaten between us for supper.I had tossed the leftover chicken in the griddle pan so that was all twice-glazed, and then mixed it in with the rice and veg. I cam across a particularly nice looking bite, which I took a shot of – I love the way it shows the griddle marks so clearly.
Tunes: There are three albums that I listen to when I’m cooking at my parents’; Dr Hook Greatest Hits, Don McLean Greatest Hits and a Proclaimers compilation, containing the albums Hit the Highway and Sunshine on Leith. These are all on cassette, mind, and today’s choice was Dr Hook, hence this offering.
Viewing: I will be glad when the viewing of the rest of the nation isn’t football. I don’t understand about football, it is so much less interesting then ramen, or any kind of food… My own choice would be The Mighty Boosh, and today it’s relevant because of their live DVD from Brixton – ‘some call me chilichickenramen’. That classic line from Rudy is in amongst this mix of rude, ridiculous and all-round rambunctious joy.