noodle-making idiosyncrasies

One of the things I keep meaning to do is to make posts about my cooking methods.  Essentially I’m a shortcut cook…I expect most family cooks are.  After half a lifetime of reading cookbooks I’ve picked up a trick or two that makes my time in the kitchen easier.

Years ago I picked up an excellent Chinese cookbook, The Key to Chinese Cooking, by Irene Kuo.  I’m happy to report it’s still in print.  At the time I was studying Chinese art at university, and obsessed with everything Chinese.  I learned methods from that cookbook that have stuck with me the rest of my cooking life, such as, using a working platter.

It’s a simple matter to place individual items on a plate or platter in preparation for cooking, and it makes stir-frying much easier.  Group ingredients in the order they will be added, on a lightweight plate or platter.  If you want to pre-measure liquid ingredients have them to hand as well, in small cups or dishes.  Then as you’re stir-frying everything is there.

Is this too simple to make a blog post about?  Maybe…!  Sometimes I think “Oh, that’s not important, everyone does THAT!”  But you never know.

I marinated the pork for these noodles with soy sauce, sesame oil, and whey drained from my milk kefir cheese.  Did you know that whey is a meat tenderiser?  It also acts as a natural flavour enhancer.  If you don’t make kefir, you can collect some whey from your yogurt container, it’s the clear yellowish liquid that collects where you scooped with your spoon.  Marinated any thinly sliced meat with other flavourings like herbs, garlic or anything else you can think of, for at least two hours.  Don’t worry, it won’t turn out tasting yogurty at all!  Another favourite of mine is lamb with plum sauce marinade.  I’ll share a homemade plum sauce recipe soon.

The other possibly odd thing about these noodles is that I used frozen noodles from my local asian grocery.  Super easy, and the noodles are nice and dryish, so they don’t go all gluey and sticky when stir-fried with a sauce.  I didn’t even know you could buy frozen udon… but there you go.  My favourite store brightens my day yet again!

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6 Responses to noodle-making idiosyncrasies

  1. I don’t use a plate – but I do use my big chopping board and place sliced veggies to the side and keep chopping until the board looks somewhat like your plate. Makes stirfry much less stressful, and ups the odds of it tasting awesome.

  2. Burinsmith says:

    Yes I do this too sometimes. I have a big board but the only thing about it I find troublesome is it’s too heavy to easily balance in one hand while shovelling ingredients into the wok! Thanks for dropping by :)!

  3. moxiethegal says:

    What the French and the hotel industry call the mise-en-place, and an excellent idea, though they use it in different ways than your illustration. When I was taking a course at NSCAD in Chinese Brush Painting techniques for ceramic, Jackson (the artist from China) had a couple of friends from China come over and give a demo session making those little clay teapots. There is a region where the specialty is those little pots; apparently people there have fine bones in their hands, according to Jackson, which makes it a natural fit!

    This was a man and wife team, and they were so deft, fast and inventive in their designs. The thing that struck me most however, was their careful preparation in laying out everything they would need before they began. I’m not kidding, it took about an hour for them to set up their small table-top working space. Then when I saw them working, smiling and forming out several spectacular and perfect teapots by hand like it was the easiest thing in the world, I understood why they had to be so organized at the start. It struck me with great force, probably because I never tend to do that, and then will be fumbling and looking for tools and wasting time, getting frustrated… in projects, house-cleaning, cooking, you name it. Thanks for the reminder! When I do get things laid out beforehand, I feel so much better and everything turns out well!

  4. moxiethegal says:

    p.s. It’s not too basic a topic!

    • Jamjam says:

      Hi Moxie! I’m the same…get the sudden impetus of an idea and launch at it kamikaze style! So on the occasions I muster the self control to do this my food has a certain serenity to it.

      I’d love to see those pots. I have a couple of little fine clay teapots from China. Though they are simple designs they’re delicate and lovely.

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