Monday, March 29, 2010

Using your noodle...

Ok, that title stinks.
But, that's what I'm doing for lunch today. I love noodles anyway, so this is another "ease into things" meal.
I'm a big fan of ramen (who isn't? I mean, come on, it's 17cents a pack), especially the "good" ramen where you make your own broth, and add stuff like nori, pork belly, onions, etc.
When I do noodles at work, I usually take some miso, add hot water to make a miso broth, drop about half a pack of ramen into it, cover the bowl, and let it set until the noodles are done. Then I add whatever stuff I bring from home (like hard-boiled egss, pork belly, cubed tofu, chopped scallions, what-have-you) or get from the cafe here at work. Since pork belly is obviously out (but is really good in ramen), I made some pickled shiitake mushrooms last night to provide some umami flavor (got the recipe out of the Momofuku cookbook) and brought those in (along with some cilantro), and to round things out, I just hit the salad bar here to pick up some spinach and tofu.

The worst part of this lunch is that they were serving buffalo chicken wings at the cafe right next to the salad bar, and I admit, I looked upon them with lust in my heart. But I was strong, and resisted the temptation. But man, I do love some chicken wings...

Lunch should be pretty easy this week, if a little boring, since I could get by on a salad every day for lunch. I don't care for creamy dressings too much anyway (my go-to salad dressing at work is oil+vinegar+dijon mustard, which is safe), and dressing seems like the only thing that could screw me up (that, and I'd need to avoid cheese).

The usual "eat-out" lunch places are tough, though, since the rotation is usually Super Wok (hole-in-the-wall Chinese), Little Tokyo (sushi), and Bosphorus, and none of these are particularly vegan friendly. (One of my lunch buddies said "just get the greek salad at Bosphorus", and I was like, "nope, feta's out". That's ok, though. I don't like feta). I'm going to make a push for Indian next time we go out, since that's supposed to be a safe haven.

I did want to mention the pickles again, though. I'm thinking that various pickled/preserved vegetables are going to be a good way to add the flavor that gets lost by not using cream/butter/stock/etc, so I expect to be making more pickles through the week.

Here are the pickled mushrooms I mentioned earlier (from Momofuku cookbook):
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
1/2 cup usukuchi soy sauce
1 3inch knob ginger, peeled

Put mushrooms in a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 15-30 minutes.
Remove mushrooms, and strain soaking liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any grit, and reserve 1 cup soaking liquid.
Remove stems from mushrooms, and slice into 1/8inch slices.
Combine sugar, soaking liquid, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and mushrooms in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, discard ginger, and then pack mushrooms in a pint container (I used one of the big olive containers from the olive bar at Harris Teeter), and cover with the pickling liquid.

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