Thursday, November 22, 2012

Birthday Noodles


We had noodles for birthdays when we were little. (There were also crab legs. Different story.) I never thought about it until I was school age, and then it seemed kinda weird. Noodles fell out of favor for a number of years. Eventually nostalgia takes over, and I begin hankering after noodles again. This is a very Chinese-y thing to eat.

Chinese spaghetti sauce:

2 bunches finely chopped green onions
3 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 T sesame oil
1/2 cup Master Brand black bean sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup light soy sauce
1 T dark soy sauce

Put the oil, onions, garlic and ginger in a saucepan and saute on medium until the onions are translucent & wilty. Add everything else and stir for about 5 minutes, or until it is pretty thick and the oil starts to break out of the rest of the sauce.

Serve over noodles. Remember to put a fair amount of the noodle boiling water in the bowl. Greens are not traditional, but they taste good and look fancy.

A couple things:

1. I'm usually not particular about what brand  of something I use, but so far, Master Brand bean sauce (sometimes labeled Comrade Brand) is the only brand of bean sauce I've found that tastes like it should. Accept no substitutes.
2. Aren't all those ingredients just different versions of fermented soybeans? Couldn't you use fewer packaged ingredients or something? Probably...but this is easiest. Actually they all do something different. Master sauce is for texture and pungency. Hoisin adds sweetness. Light soy sauce adjusts the thickness of the sauce without diluting it, and dark soy sauce is a little smoky tasting. All of them have loads of fermented amine precursors or whatever it is that umami tastes like.
3. This really ought to have little bits of diced ham in it too, but I'm stingy and I didn't have any of that on hand. You can add 1/2 cup tiny ham cubes to the pan and brown them in a dab of oil before putting in the onions & garlic if you want. Then it will be pretty much exactly like we used to have it when I was a kid.
4. These are buckwheat soba. If you want to be traditional, you can get plain white chinese noodles in most grocery stores. Spaghetti is fine too. Dad used to make the birthday noodles, of course, but that's a whole 'nother thing.


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