A Noodle Party

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Although I personally not the biggest fan of cold weather, there are a few things I do like about it. These are: indoor entertainment in a good company and a comfort food. Comfort food is normally associated with some greasy and heavy holiday meals, but good thing is that it should’t necessary be this way. Comfort food might as well be nourishing, filling and somewhat on a lighter side.

Let’s talk noodles. Most of grown-ups and kids as well enjoy all types of noodles and I’m sure would consume way more if only it was a healthier option. Grocery stores are full of different types of noodles to satisfy any taste and diet preferences. My noodles of choice are black bean, mung bean or brown rice noodles which are reach in protein and fiber, are gluten free and don’t require a 30 minutes of rest after consumption.

Now, let’s put together noodles and entertainment. I invited over my friend Seth Josolowitz to make noodles together. Seth spent 5 years in Japan and got to travel around a lot which made me think of him as a noodle expert. We decided to make 3 different stocks and a number of add-ins to play around. Cooking together was a fun thing to do on a cold winter day and sharing ideas and experiences filled up our table with a bunch of tasty options.

The thing about Japanese stocks, which make a great base for a number of dishes, is a really unique umami flavour. Umami is a Japanese word that describes the fifth taste – after basic four of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. The major chemical component is umami is glutamate, which is naturally present in many foods, but the greatest amount is found in Kelp (a seaweed, also known as Kombu and is widely available at the Asian markets or ethnic sections at the grocery stores). There are two other chemicals that form umami: inosinate and guanylate. Inosinate is found in meat and fish, while guanylate is found in dried mushrooms such as shiitake.

These two products provide a base for vegetarians stocks, while Bonito (dried fish flakes) take care of the non-vegetarian option.

The add-ins vary on one’s preferences and can include different vegetables, meats, eggs, tofu and even beans.

The stock requires some planing ahead. but it’s low maintenance and the outcome totally worths it.

Kelp stock:

4 cups of water

20 g kombu

Shiitake stock:

4 cups of water

60 g of dried shiitake

Bonito stock:

3 cups of water

1/4 cups dried bonito flakes

Add-ins:

bok choy

mushrooms (enoki, trumpet, shiitake..)

noodles

egg

cooked chickpeas

miso paste

Start with preparing stocks a night ahead. Fill up one bowl with water and add dried shiitake (it’s important to submerge the mushrooms), cover; fill up another bowl with water and add kelp. Put both bowls in a fridge for 8 hours or so. Once ready to use, discard kelp and strain the remaining liquid, warm it up in a pot until barely simmering. Remove the mushrooms, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, strain the remaining liquid and warm it up (the mushrooms can be sliced and cooked).

For bonito stock bring water to boil, add bonito flakes and turn off the heat. Let cook for 5 minutes and discard the flakes.

Prepare the add-ins:

Heat a little bit of oil, add bok chop, season with salt and pepper and sauté for a 5 minutes, flipping once.

Heat a knob of coconut oil (or butter), add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook up to 10 minutes stirring just a couple of times.

Prepare eggs and noodles of choice.

Once everything is ready ladle the stock (one or a mix) into a bowl, mix in miso paste if using, add vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and eggs. Enjoy with a nice conversation.