bánh canh cua – Vietnamese Udon Noodle Soup

Banh Canh Cua

around this time of year,
while the majority of the country
is thinking/talking/consuming all things:
pumpkin, turkey, stuffing, cranberries, eggnog,
i’m craving random,
not as well-known vietnamese noodle bowls
that take a full day to make
and then even more dayyyyyyys to finish.

the season is in full swing,
and though we don’t partake in festivities often,
we still find ourselves succumbing
to the stray dinner and drink and party invites.
december:
you’re the last one,
so be the best one.

Banh Canh Cua

bánh canh cua – Vietnamese Udon Noodle Soup
this makes an ass-ton, like i don’t know how much in measurements, but we were eating this for a number of nights straight.

to me, this dish is more about the noodles than anything else. there’s a bouncy chewy texture to them, kinda sorta like udon noodles. there are plenty of different resources online that will have the full exact measurements of the seasoning, that is authentic, but this version worked for me and my hankering for some random not-often consumed viet noodle bowl was sated.

stock
3 lbs pork neck bones
1 onion
carrot & celery (optional, i added this because it felt weird to not have them in when making stock)
6 cups chicken stock (homemade or store bought)

in a big stock pot bring a pot of water + pork neck bones to a boil. drain the water and wash the bones and clean the pot. put bones back into the pot with the onion and fill with water. bring to a boil and lower heat. simmer slightly covered for a few hours. skim accordingly

after a few hours, remove the bones (discard them, or if you’re like my gpa, pick at the bones, dunking the morsels of meat in really good & spicy fish sauce)

add the chicken stock and stir to mix.

crab + shrimp balls
1 clove garlic
half onion
salt, pepper, sugar – to taste
1/2 lb cleaned/deveined shrimp
1/2 lb crab meat
splash fish sauce
1 – 2 tsp of annatto oil (to make: 1/3 cup of neutral oil warmed gently with 1 TBL of annatto seeds)
1-2 tsp crab paste in soy bean oil

in food processor add the shrimp and alllllll the ingredients, except the crab meat. pulse until the shrimp is roughly chopped. then add the crab meat and pulse for about 5-10 seconds, taking care to not mush up the crab meat, you’re aiming to bind all the ingredients together.

shape into ping pong sized balls. fridge or freeze until ready to use

garnish
green scallions, chopped
cilantro, finely chopped
chili pepper, thinly sliced
lime wedges
optional fish and shrimp and crab balls, already prepared, can be found in frozen aisle at asian markets

banh canh noodles
1 bag rice flour (16 oz)
5 TBL tapioca starch or flour
1 1/2 cups of super duper hot boiling water

mix rice flour and tapioca starch, set aside
in a kettle, boil water and pour it into the flour mixture until a dough is formed, it won’t be too wet or dry. the consistency reminded me of play-doh. wrap in plastic and ignore for 30 minutes

here is where you can shape/cook the noodles the way you want. you can put it through a potato ricer or roll out the dough into a disc and cut into 1/4 inch strips. we attempted both and will now just buy already-made udon noodles.

to assemble
best to make 2 servings at a time

in a medium sauce pan, portion out enough stock for 2 servings. bring to a boil, lower heat and season according to taste, with fish sauce and sugar

add in the homemade shrimp/crab balls and any other prepared balls you want. when the pot reaches a boil again, add in the noodles. unlike pasta, don’t stir. allow for the noodles to cook to al dente, it’ll swell, around 5 minutes, but do keep an eye out for it. the stock will thicken, it’ll go from brothy to stew-y. don’t be alarmed

portion into bowls. top with green scallions, cilantro and a healthy drizzle of annatto oil and spritz of lime juice

BAM!

4 years ago: cauliflower + pumpkin gnocchi
3 years ago: garlic panna cotta + curried root vegetable soup
2 years ago: vegan carrot cake
1 year ago: brownie cookies

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mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

in an effort to end 2016 with some
kind of happiness,
with some mad hope,
dw & i split the 4 day break
with friends,
then snuggled up,
(hygge, H O L L A!)
hiding from people,
watching sherlock.
we are our best selves
after a period of anti-social behavior.
it’s been a whirl of short weeks-long weekends,
now faced with not another holiday until spring,
i’m doing what i can to break the monotony of winter.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

the first step is a minor adjustment
to my social calendar.
i signed up to volunteer
at our local IRC office,
i was matched with a burmese family.
for a few hours a week
i will tutor them in english,
along with whatever else they’re up for.
this will likely challenge me,
i’m not naturally inclined toward teaching,
but this is necessary,
as i fight,
COME AT ME KC,
in a small way,
the absolute cluster of the next 4 years.

but first, let’s eat.
happy 2017.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup
adapted from luke nguyen

makes an ass ton – we were eating this for dinner for about 5 days, and there was still more, but i had to put an end to the leftover thing

note: i did not add the rice powder, because i didn’t feel like grinding rice. my spice grinder is for coffee grinding anyway.

noodle bowls:
rice vermicelli noodles
hard-boiled eggs, halved
chopped cilantro, to garnish
lime wedges, to serve

broth:
1 head of fish, if you had to choose, catfish is fine
1 lemongrass stem, bruised
2 garlic cloves, bashed
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 TBL cooked chickpeas, mashed (i used jarred jovial)
1 red onion, quartered
1/2 red onion, chopped
fish sauce, to taste
1.5 lbs catfish fillet, cleaned and de-boned

spice paste:
3 lemongrass stems, finely sliced, white part only
2-4 red chilis, to taste
1/2 red onion, rough chopped
4 garlic cloves , diced
1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika

make the broth: place the fish head in a large pot with the lemongrass, garlic, red onion quarters and turmeric. pour in enough cold water to cover the head and bring to a boil. skim off any muck, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. strain the broth and put back in pot. keep the heat at low, and gently lower the fish fillets into the broth and cook for about 15-20 minutes. remove the fillets and with forks, flake them into chunky pieces. set aside. keep the broth pot on low though.

while the broth is simmering, make the paste: in a mortar & pestle, pound the lemongrass, chillies, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste. you can use a food processor for ease.

in a saucepan, heat up the grape seed oil. add in the paste and saute for 20 minutes. you’re gonna question if the amount of oil is correct, and i’ll just say, i asked the same question and it worked out fine. stir in the shrimp paste, tumeric and paprika. add in the flaked fish, be gentle with mixing, cook on low for an additional 5 minutes.

returning to the pot of broth, add the fish mixture to it. next, throw in the mashed chickpeas and chopped red onions. season with fish sauce to taste. stir to combine, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

to serve:
cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. divvy into soup bowls.

ladle soup over noodles, being sure to add in chunks of flaked fish.

top with half hard boiled egg and generous smattering of chopped cilantro.
spritz with lime juice.

BAM!

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

3 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
2 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
1 year ago: spiced mexican cookies

curried broccoli & cheese soup

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

it’s been an emotional week –
i would be remiss to not mention
the historic shit show that is happening
in American politics right now.
i’ve cried more in the last 6 days than i care to admit
i’ve broken up with people on facebook
i spent the first 24 hours gathering grace,
the next 24 hours cowering,
and now i’m ready to tread out to the deep end.

as the late rufus scrimgeour said:
These are dark times, there is no denying.
Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today.
But I say this to our citizenry:
We, ever your servants,
will continue to defend your liberty
and repel the forces that seek to take it from you!
Your Ministry remains, strong.
(Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling)

stretch in the direction of kindness,
forgiveness, emotional bravery.
be a warrior for love.
(dear sugar, Cheryl Strayed)

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

curried broccoli & cheese soup
serves 2 for a week of lunches

note: the curry flavor is subtle, green curry can be spicy and the coconut milk and cheese tempers it, leaving a rather pleasant heat. you can up the amount if you want, i found that 2 TBL was enough.

healthy splash of olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup spelt flour
2 cups veggie stock
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 TBL green curry paste, i’ve been using this brand and it’s spicy AF, i like this brand too.
4 cups broccoli florets + stems
2 large carrots, match-sticked
salt/pepper to taste
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese, we use cabot extra sharp cus it clear states that it’s lactose free

in a pot, heat up about 1-2 TBL of olive oil. saute the onions until translucent, with generous pinch of salt/pepper. at this point, you can remove the onions or you can be lazy like me and just push them to the side of the pan. drizzle in a healthy glug of more olive oil, about 3-4 TBL worth and then sprinkle in the spelt flour. you’re aiming to make a roux, so make sure that all the flour is incorporated in the fat. if you aren’t diligent about whisking/stirring it, it’ll get brown, which is fine but the color of your soup will be darker, the taste will be fine though. either way, make sure you fully incorporate the flour with the oil and it’s thick/pasty. add in the stock and coconut milk, as well as the green curry paste. whisk to incorporate the roux and the curry paste together. bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium and add in the broccoli, carrots and garlic. simmer til the vegs are tender, anywhere from 15-20 minutes. the soup will be thick, it can be thinned with a bit of water/stock if necessary. add in the grated cheese and stir through.

ladle into bowls and top with extra cheese if you’re feeling fancy.

BAM!

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

3 years ago: blueberry jam danishes
2 years ago: chickpea & sausage stew (using the same props!)(my style has not changed much)
1 year ago: only one thing last year, vegan carrot cake

lemongrass chicken & rice soup

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

we celebrated autumn super early this year,
like,
butt-crack of september early.
not because it was cold,
but because there was a Chicken Soup Contest
that i had to enter
and i needed to tweak the recipe.
for 3 weeks straight
poor dw had to eat chicken soup for lunch.
further,
he had to analyze what it was lacking,
and what i could do to fix that lacking.

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

dw was by my side the entire event,
helped set up,
calmed my nerves,
and assisted with the ladling.
(he also reminded me to look gracious
when i didn’t win ALLLLLL the categories #TigerChild)
i even sent him out to spy on my fellow competitors.
alas,
we walked away with the
“Director’s Choice Award”
(he was so adorably proud #MyBiggestFan)
we have a week’s worth
of leftover soup for lunch,
dw has requested no soup after this week,
and i’m already brainstorming for next year.

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

lemongrass chicken & rice soup
serves 6-8
keeps in fridge for a week, perfect for lunches.

*note: it looks like a lot. if it’s too long, you don’t want to read and you’re strapped for time, use boxed/canned chicken stock and infuse the lemongrass/ginger/garlic/kefir lime leaves by simmering them in for about 30 minuntes. it’s cheating, but it’ll do the trick.
*due to this being a jewish contest, the rules were that the ingredients be kosher. kosher rotisserie chicken is brined, so there’s an added saltiness. for the first 2 weeks we used regular plain rotisserie chicken and upped the fish sauce amount. for the last 2 weeks, i decreased the fish sauce amount, just be sure to season to taste accordingly.
*note: the garnishes are clutch — the lime and cilantro adds freshness. don’t skimp on that.
*late note: to keep the flavor of lemongrass etc in the soup throughout the week, keep the extra flavoring pieces in, fishing them out just before serving. if you take them out sooner, the soup still tastes great, but it’s milder.

homemade stock:
1-2 kosher chicken carcasses, depending on how big they are
3 large carrots, washed, tips trimmed and rough chopped
3 stalks of celery, washed and rough chopped
6 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and slightly bruised
2″ knob of ginger, slightly smashed
3-4 garlic gloves, whole but slightly smashed
handful of kefir lime leaves
1 small-medium onion, quartered
3-4 red thai chilis, whole and scored
palm-full of whole black peppercorns
water

soup:
2-3 carrots, washed, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
meat of kosher rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup rice
1/8-1/4 cup kosher fish sauce (i used Red Boat)
1 TBL oil, olive oil or grapeseed

extra flavoring:
2-3 lemongrass stalks, slightly bruised
1″ knob of ginger, slightly smashed
1-2 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
1/2 small onion, cut in half
1-2 red thai chilis, whole and scored
splash of neutral oil, like grapeseed

garnish:
limes
chopped cilantro
chopped red chili (very, very optional)

in a crock pot, add all the stock ingredients in and add water till it covers everything. lid, turn on low and walk away. i’ve done it for as short of amount as 4 hours and for as long as over night (about 7-8 hours). strain and set aside.

to make the extra flavoring, in a small frying pan gently warm a splash of oil and saute all the ingredients. be gentle, you’re just warming the ingredients through so they can release their aroma and flavor. keep on low, kinda sorta ignore and every so often move the ingredients around so they don’t feel neglected and burn.

in a big pot, heat up the oil and saute the diced onion until softened, you’re not looking to caramelize it though so be careful. add in the minced garlic, carrots and celery and mix thoroughly. carefully pour in the stock. add in the extra flavoring & shredded chicken, and bring to a boil.

lower heat.

add in the 1/2 cup of rice, stir, lid and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

season with fish sauce, to taste.

at this point, you can fish out the random flavorings, or just avoid them when ladling the soup.

serve with lime wedges and topped with chopped cilantro and chopped red chili.

BAM!

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

3 years ago: how to make bouillon cubes
2 years ago: blueberry swirl + coconut macaroons
1 year ago: apparently, i didn’t do shit last year.

chilled somen noodles with cold mushroom broth

Cold Noodle Bowl

if you would believe it,
we’re around the corner from August.
it’s hot as balls out,
i’ve taken to worrying about
the plants outside,
the kind that belong to me
and the kind that don’t.
i sent dw out the other day
with two half gallon jugs
to water the new trees that were
recently planted in the park across the way.
this will hopefully become
a morning & nightly routine.

meanwhile,
we’ve been battling this heat
with plenty of water
and cold foods:
salad
ice cream
cereal
and this soup.

hope you’re staying cool,
wherever you are.

cold noodle bowl

chilled somen noodles with cold mushroom broth
inspired & adapted from the NY Times
makes enough for 6-8 servings

*in my freezer i keep a bag of vegetable odds/ends, they range from mushroom stems to celery heads to ugly carrot nubs. sometimes i keep parsley stems. they make for super quick and easy veg broths. for this particular dish, it made enough broth to fill a half gallon jar, which can be kept in the fridge for a week.

broth:
a very generous handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
a very generous handful of mushroom stems
1 bunch scallions, rough chopped
1 stick of kombu
a few celery heads
8 cups water
soy sauce or coconut aminos to taste
1 TBL whole black pepper

for the noodle bowls:
cooked somen noodles, prepared according to package instructions
cucumbers, sliced thin
green scallions, small chopped
kim chi, if you’re fancy make your own, we bought a local fave: Hex
2-4 hard boiled eggs, i got fancy and let them hang out in dark soy sauce for extra flavor
corn, cut from two cobs
drizzle of sesame oil
splash of rice vinegar

in the morning, while you’re brewing your coffee make the broth: add all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. turn off heat and cool to room temp. season to taste and then strain into clean jar and place in refrigerator till cold.

when ready, assemble the bowls: divvy up the noodles, make enough so that each bowl gets about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of broth. top with vegs and last pour in the broth. drizzle a bit of sesame oil and splash of vinegar at the end for added flavor.

BAM!

Cold Noodle Bowl

3 years ago: green tomato & mint chutney
2 years ago: thai iced tea
1 year ago: i was being a bum.