Udon Pot

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 (click on pics to enlarge)

Udon is a Japanese wheat noodle.  The most important part of this dish is a dashi stock.  A dashi stock is made with a piece of kelp (which I don’t have), hon dashi (which is salty dried bonito tuna granules), sweet mirin (which is a sweet rice wine) and soy sauce.   The taste is fine without the kelp.  You won’t miss it if you don’t have it.  Who has kelp hanging around anyway?

Except for the udon noodles, each ingredient is cooked in the broth by itself for a little while depending on the ingredient, assembled in a big bowl and then the stock is ladled in.  As each ingredient is added, the stock takes on a little different flavor.

There are many versions of this soup.  I use fresh shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, baby bok choy, daikon (Asian radish), carrots and topped with scallions.

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Dashi Stock

6 cups of water
For every cup of water add 1/2 tsp. Hon Dashi
2 TBSP Sweet Mirin
2 TBSP Sake (if you have it)
Splash in soy sauce to the right color
1 – 5” piece of daikon (Asian radish) peeled

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 40 minutes.

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Prepare the other ingredients.

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2 carrots sliced
1 baby bok choy
1 lb. peeled shrimp
4 or 5 shiitake mushrooms (if dry mushrooms soak in warm water before cooking)
3 scallions chopped

The udon noodles are prepared in an individual pack with a neat little wrapper in the center.

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Boil the udon noodles in a separate pot b/c the noodles will absorb too much liquid if boiled in the dashi stock.  Typically, noodles take exactly 12 minutes to cook but cook these exactly 10 minutes.  They will continue to cook when added to the bowl later.

Remove the daikon and cut into pieces.

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In the dashi stock cook carrots for five minutes and remove to a bowl.  Cook shiitake mushrooms five minutes and remove to a bowl.  Cook the shrimp three minutes and remove to a bowl.  Cook the baby bok choy two minutes and remove to a bowl.

To serve, drain and strain the udon noodles from the clear water and add to the stock for a few minutes, remove from the stock and place the noodles at the bottom of the serving bowl. Arrange the vegetables the way you like and add the shrimp and the scallions and ladle in the hot stock.  Any remaining stock can be cooled and saved in the frig for another day.

Overall this looks like a big process but it goes fast and the dish is completely wonderful and healthy I might add.

You can find Hon Dashi online if your local Asian store does not have it.

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Black Bean Soup

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There are many variations of this soup from a Spanish cumin flavor to a sweeter version I prefer with sherry added when served. I have perfected this dish over many years and I say perfected b/c when served hot on and cold day there are few things better. I have merged several variations such as I only use red bell pepper rather than green, a fresh Jalapeño pepper rather than chili pepper and instead of cilantro I use ground coriander, which is ground cilantro seed.

2 slices of bacon (chopped)
1 thick slice of Black Forest ham, cut into squares (the deli can slice a 1/4″ thick slice)
12 oz. dried black beans (3/4 of one bag)
½ onion (chopped)
½ red bell pepper (chopped)
1 celery stalk (chopped)
1 carrot (sliced with a Julienne peeler and then chopped)
1 garlic clove (sliced)
½ Jalapeño pepper (chopped)
1 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP butter
1 32 oz. chicken stock
½ cup white wine
Sherry
Salt and pepper
1 tsp ground coriander

In a large pot boil black beans in chicken stock, then simmer one hour. Drain beans and save the stock.

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Clean the soup pot. Add olive oil, get hot and fry the bacon. Add onions, red bell pepper, celery, carrot, garlic and Jalapeño pepper. Sauté for 6 to 8 minutes. Add white wine. Add Black forest ham. Return the beans and the stock. Add butter, salt and pepper and the coriander. Stir. Add a little water if necessary to raise the level of the soup. Lower the heat to simmer and cook one hour.

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The idea is not to cook all 16 oz. of beans as not to make the soup too thick or overrun with beans. I also don’t want to get the soup too hot or boil the heck out of it so that the flavors gently blend.

When serving, pour one shot of sherry in the bowl and then ladle the soup into the bowl. The warm soup will generate the sherry flavor into a very appetizing aroma.

Oyster Artichoke Soup

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The first time I had this dish was at a restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS, which is exactly a one hour drive to New Orleans.  That restaurant was completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  I struggled looking for a recipe to match it.  Poking around the Internet I learned this soup originated at Le Ruth’s Restaurant in New Orleans.  LeRuth’s closed in the 1990’s.  I still have a framed poster of their restaurant hanging in my kitchen (see below) given to me by a chef that worked there with Warren LeRuth. Warren is credited with creating this dish.

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At all the restaurants that serve this dish today there are two versions – with or without cream.  I chose with cream, but not much.  The next big decision is to make it with a Béchamel sauce (oil, flour, cream) or with a mashed potato.  I chose the potato.  Another deviation is I use marinated artichoke hearts instead of fresh.  I drain them but leave a little of the oil/vinegar for more flavor.  However, I will blend the other 8 oz. jar of artichokes with a white onion, leek, celery and garlic.  I will use the oyster juice in the container to add a little fish stock taste.  At the end I will toss-in the raw oysters and let set until they warm a little (15-20 minutes).  I will serve this with freshly baked bread.

~~~

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  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 – 8 Oz. quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed lightly, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1 – 8 Oz. quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed lightly, chopped into half-inch pieces
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1 leek, cleaned and finely chopped in food processor (white part only)
  • 1 large garlic cloves, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1 large red potato, peeled and finely chopped in food processor
  • 1 celery stalk peeled and finely chopped in food processor
  • 3 stalks of fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ cup  chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Sea Salt and white pepper to taste
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 pint oysters with juice

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1. Heat olive oil in a 2.5 or 3 qt. saucepan
2. Blend artichoke, onions, celery, leek, the potato and garlic in food processor
3. Sauté artichoke, onions, celery, leek, the potato and garlic for 7-10 minutes on simmer
4. Add the wine, chicken stock and the artichokes chopped in half-inch pieces then stir
5. Cover the pot and simmer the soup for 30 minutes on a very low simmer
6. Turn off soup and let set for 20 minutes
7. Add whipping cream, oregano, bay leaf, sea salt and white pepper
8. Add raw oysters w/juice
9. Simmer on very low heat for 20 minutes and serve with bread

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang)

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There are two Asian soups I really enjoy.  I am totally O-M-Lambs besotted about them! One is a Vietnamese soup called Pho (Phở) and the other is Korean Samgyetang.

Pho is pronounced “fuh”.  In fact, I get it from a restaurant here called What the Pho.  Pho is a complicated broth made with beef brisket, ox tail and beef bones, rice noodles called bánh Phở, star anise and other specialty herbs.  In south Mississippi it is as popular as Gumbo.  It is much cheaper to buy than to make.

The other soup is Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang).  This soup is perfect for the cold wet days to come when the germs and bugs are out and you’re feeling under the weather (or not so O-M-Lambs besotted).  It is much simpler to make than Pho, but it requires a visit to the local Asian market.  I work near a wonderful Vietnamese market that sells all the necessary ingredients.

The main ingredient for this soup obviously is dried ginseng root.  If ginseng root is not available you can use red ginseng tea sachets.  The other is a red Asian date called jujube (jujuba). This date comes from the Ziziphus jujuba plant.  Of course you need to find a small one serving chicken.  I have seen recipes recommending a Cornish Hen if you can’t find a small single serving chicken.  You will also need garlic cloves and sticky rice.  Ask for “sticky rice”.  I asked for glutinous rice and the clerk had no idea what I was talking about.  I then asked for sticky rice and he walked me to the rice section and pointed to two bags. One bag he called “sticky rice” and the other bag he called “very sticky rice”.  He laughed.

Ingredients for one: (But the Little Woman and I will split this dish.  Who drinks 6 cups of chicken soup in one sitting?)

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Broth:

  • 1 young whole chicken
  • Several dried ginseng roots
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 jujube (red dates)
  • 2 green onions (scallions)
  • Salt
  • A little chicken bouillon if you want to add more chicken flavor

Rice Stuffing:

  •  ½ cup rice uncooked
  • 1 ginseng root
  • 2 jujube dates
  • 1 garlic clove

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Sack of rice (For extra rice in a cheesecloth pouch)

  • ½ cup rice uncooked
  • 1 ginseng root
  • 2 jujube dates
  • 1 garlic clove

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Make the broth and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Stuff the chicken with the rice stuffing and close the chicken with a toothpick and then make the rice pouch.  Put everything in the pot and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Serve with chopped green onions.

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Serve by spooning rice in the bottom of the bowl, add chicken, soup and cover with scallions.

The ginseng has a wonderful musty comfort food flavor.

Split Pea Soup

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(as always, click on pics to enlarge)

I like a silky thick Split Pea Soup. Some like it with roughage, but I like it silky.

About 40 years ago I also learned how to top this soup with Parmesan cheese and Soy Sauce. The way I make it silky is with a hand blender.

This pot is best layered in flavors. First fry bacon, then add the vegetables, then the meat and herbs.

Ingredients:

3 strips bacon (fat cut away and meat cut into lardoons)
1 celery stalk (Peeled and chopped)
½ onion (chopped)
1 carrot ( Julienned with a Julienne peeler then cut into squares)
1 garlic clove (minced)
1 red potato (peeled and cut into squares)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup ham cut into squares (I also added Tasso, a Cajun ham)
1 Lb. split peas (I use the New Orleans Favorite, Camellia brand, rinsed)
1 bay leaf
3 fresh basil leaves, (chopped)
Sea Salt
White Pepper
Dash of white wine

100_5290First cut the fat from the bacon and then cut the bacon into strips (lardoons).  Add the bacon to the pot and fry for 10 minutes.  Remove the bacon and set aside.  Add the onions, celery, garlic, olive oil and sauté 8 minutes. Add white wine and deglaze the pot.  Add split peas, potato and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook one hour.

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At this point take out the hand blender and blend the pot.

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Add all the meat, bay leaf, basil leaves, salt and pepper and a little water.  I use basil from one of my basil plants.

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I also add the carrots.  I use a Julienne peeler and then chop the carrot.

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Simmer another hour.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and soy sauce.

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