A warm bowl of noodle soup – Nyumen

No.218

March 2, 2018

Oslo is freezing!!

colddays

Brrrr….

In a cold day like this, it is so nice to have a warm bowl of noodle soup.

Udon, Soba, Somen are the three main types of Japanese noodles. Nowadays Ramen is very popular all over the world but it is originally a Chinese noodle. Udon and Somen are made from white wheat flour. Udon is a thick fat type of noodle and Somen is a thin one. Soba is made from mixture of buckwheat flour and/or white wheat flour and yam flour. People in the eastern part of Japan are said to prefer Soba and the western part eats more Udon.

Somen is a very typical summer noodle served cold but it is also very good served hot. When it is served hot, it is called Nyumen. While Soba and Udon are both served cold and warm but they do not change its name, Nyumen can be said the winter version of Somen.

Tamago Nyumen

Here is Egg Nyumen (warm Somen). It does not take much time to cook Egg Nyumen and if you can use more time to upgrade it with some savory chicken meat balls, here is the recipe. This recipe was used at my cooking class in September 2016 and it was fun to cook with you! Somen noodles (dry type) are available at asian stores and it needs just a short time to cook. Enjoy!!

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Nyumen with chicken meat balls

Ingredients for 4 people
Somen noodle (dry) 6 bundles

Chicken ground meat 1 pack
Green onion 2 (minced)
Ginger 1 piece about 3 cm long (minced)
Sake 1 table spoon
Ra yu (Japanese chili sesame oil) 1 tea spoon
potato flour 1 table spoon

Salt and white pepper

Green onion to garnish

Cooked leaf vegetable like spinach or Bok Choy

Soup stock DASHI 6 cups (Dashi powder and water)
Soy sauce 3 table spoons
Mirin 1 table spoon
Salt 2/3 tea spoon

How to make :
1. Preheat your oven at 190℃

2. Put the chicken ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add green onion, ginger, sake, Ra yu, potato flour, salt and pepper. Mix well. Make small meat balls and place them on an oven tray (use an oven paper)

3. Bake in the oven for 10-15 min. until golden browned and crispy outside.

4. In a pot put the soup stock Dashi, add soy sauce and mirin and heat it up.

5. When the meat balls are done, in a large pot bring water to a boil. Put Somen noodles and cook 2 min. Drain and wash the noodles in running water.

6. Bring the soup to boil and add Somen noodles. Serve in a bowl. Top with meat balls and green onion.
You can add some cooked leaf vegetables like spinach or Bok Choy on top.

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How to cook Azuki beans and make Anko (sweet red bean paste)

 

No.198

 

This weekend it is Spring Higan(彼岸) in Japan. Higan is a Buddhist holiday and we have 2 Higans in a year, one in Spring and the other in the fall. It is always around Spring and Autumnal Equinox. People visit their family grave during Higan holiday. I spoke with my mother today and she said she was at our family grave yesterday.

We make a special sweets called “Botamochi” for Higan in spring. We make the same sweets for fall Higan too but then it changes its name to “Ohagi”.   I think it comes from this Japanese culture of appreciating seasonal things so highly, “Botamochi” is named after the spring flower “Botan” (Peony) and “Ohagi” is from the fall flower of “Hagi” (Lespedeza).  When the season changes, the flowers change, and the name of sweets changes accordingly.

 

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Today I made small Botamochi and served it in Dango style.

To make Botamochi you need to cook Azuki beans to make sweet Azuki bean paste called “Anko (あんこ)”. When cooking Azuki beans:
1. You do not soak Azuki beans in water before cooking
2. When you cook Azuki, you start with very high heat
3. When adding sugar, you add it in several separate times
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Rinse 250g Azuki beans gently in cold water. Put the beans in a pot and add 1 L cold water. Put on high heat and cook until it boils.

 

When it starts to boil, drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water, put them in a clean pot and cover them with 1 L of fresh cold water. Again put it on high heat. Azuki beans have a character that they absorb water and get cooked better when the temperature of the cooking water changes. It is a kind of temperature shock and the bean’s skin stretches and it cooks better.

 

After it has reached boiling temperature again reduce the heat to medium heat and simmer. Azuki beans cook well at a temperature just below boiling about 90℃. You can add a 1/4 cup of fresh cold water under cooking, we call it a “Bikkuri Mizu” (a surprise water) in Japanese, it is really to bring the cooking water’s temperature shockingly down to attain the good results when cooking Azuki beans. In this term, a pressure cooker cooks faster but I find it too high heat for Azuki beans and it is difficult to benefit from this shocking tricks in the sealed high pressure environment.

 

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When the beans are cooked and soft about after 30-40 min, discard 2/3 cooking water, add 200g sugar (I put sugar about 80% of the bean’s weight. You can add more sugar if you like really sweet one). Do not add the whole amount of sugar at once. If you do that sugar absorbs water in the beans and the beans get tough. Add sugar in 3-4 separate times.
If you discard all the cooking water and make paste, you get “Anko- red bean paste”.

 

Bon Appetite!
xxx Rie

 

 

Gobo, Burdock Root, Salsifis

No.197

We are lucky to have this vegetable in Norway, it is called Gobo (牛蒡)in Japanese and Storborre or Storborrerot in Norwegian. I think it is called Burdock Root in English and Salsifis in French. If I am making a mistake here, please let me know, I will correct it!!

I buy Gobo at Mega Coop in Bekkestua, this is my little shopping tips for you who live in Oslo 🙂 but I am sure there are other stores in town who sell it.  It is kind of a super mysterious vegetable for many Norwegian, they once told me that it is nothing but a weed and they could not think of it as a food they eat.

In Japan we eat Gobo all year around. It may not look so elegant,

 

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but it is a healthy vegetable!

The biggest difference between Japanese Gobo and the one I get here is the fragrance.
Japanese Gobo is a lot more fragrant and the skin part is much thinner. This is a root vegetable. When the soil and the climate is so different I think a lot of root vegetables are of its own charactor (except for carrot and onion).

I remove the skin part by scrubbing with a clean scourer. You can also use and scrape with the spine of your kitchen knife but be careful with the blade. Wash and clean it with water and you should cut it right away as it starts discoloration.

Prepare a big bowl of water and add 1/2 tea spoon of vinegar in it.
Whittle the Gobo and shave it like you sharpen a pencil

 

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and soak the shaves into the bowl. After 4-5 minutes, the water has turned its color to brownish, you can take Gobo shaves out of the water and pat dry.

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Heat a fry pan, add sesame oil and sautee with carrots and season.
– 200g Gobo
– 30g carrot
– Sugar 1 table spoon
– Mirin 1 table spoon
– Soy sauce 2 table spoons

Sprinkle some white sesame seeds before serving and here is a very typical Japanese dish called “Kinpira Gobo” 

It makes a good side dish in your bento as well.

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Bon Appetit!
xxx Rie