Eating noodle for birthday is a tradition in my family. In Chinese culture, the long strand of noodle symbolizes longevity. The original noodle used for birthday festivity is misua, white rice noodle, but my family always uses egg noodle. I guess the physical form of long strands got evolved, just like many other things, when the culture was passed down through generations; and I don't thing my Chinese ancestors mind.
Everytime my family calls me on my birthday, they always ask if hubby makes me noodle. I don't believe in its superstitious meaning, but it feels like something is missing to celebrate birthday without noodle. It's like Thanksgiving without turkey or Eid without ketupat. Well, it may not be that significant, but it is a part of the celebration.
For my birthday last weekend, I cooked my own birthday noodle. Hubby took me to a fancy seafood restaurant on my birthday but noodle wasn't on their menu. Even if they had had it, I probably wouldn't have ordered noodle from them. Noodle over crab bisque? Um... I don't think so. Hubby would love to cook noodle for me the next day, but I preferred him to clean the house and wash our cars instead, then help me cooking
Nothing was special with the birthday noodle I made, other than where each component came from. The noodle was brought from L.A. It's the brand of curly egg noodle mom usually bought when I was little. I couldn't find it at any grocery store in my town, so I was happy to find it when we visited hubby's cousin in L.A. The salted fish (ikan asin) was from our friend that just moved to NM. The shrimp was leftover from dinner the night before. The sweet cherry tomatoes was from my office-mate's garden. The last but not least, the other vegetables and eggs were from our CSA farmer.
Hubby and I planned on having dinner at downtown yesterday, but we changed our plan to a cooking date. He thought I would be tired of cooking especially after swimming that evening. But seeing a lot of vegetables left and considering that we would get a new CSA box the next day, I thought of just having dinner at home.
I was happy of our team work in preparing our dinner. We didn't have much time because we got home late and our stomach started growling even before we got home. For that reason, I chose to make spaghetti with the sauce I made and froze months ago when we were overloaded with tomatoes. I also thinly sliced chicken, marinated them, and cooked them while doing the pasta. For the side dish, we pan fried yellow zucchinis, wax beans and red, green, yellow bell peppers.
I was glad we decided to make our own dinner. We had fun preparing and enjoyed the colorful dish; and as a bonus, we had enough for 3 meals
Swiss chard has been a part of fall vegetables we've been getting from CSA. This vegetable is related to beet. The leaf is shiny bright green with soft texture. The stalk and the vein come in a variety of colors such as white, yellow and dark red. Since the stem is tough, I never eat it uncooked. When I wanted to eat them fresh, the most possible way was blanching them in lightly boiled salted water. The next step was dipping the vegetable for 20 second, removing and submerging them in water bath, then draining them well. I tried to use Swiss chard to wrap stir-fried noodle, and it worked. The soft yet strong leaves held the filling very well.
I believe I am not the only one who is missing Indonesian instant noodle. Indomie, that's how we usually call it, is actually an instant noodle brand, just like Kleenex for tissue. It could be similar to mac and cheese in the States, instant noodle is assimilated to our culture. Furthermore, there are Indonesian-traditional-food flavors for instant noodle. Imagining me eating indomie while writing this entry makes me drool
Dad was the stringent rule maker in the house, and he tried to limit his kids instant noodle consumption because of the harm it could do to our health. However, when I went to college, he sometimes sent a box of assorted instant noodles to my boarding house. "For emergency", he said. My college time was the time Indonesia had monetary crisis followed a huge riot in May 1998. It was a scary time, when my country was very unstable. There were some food shortages at that time, thus dad's idea of sending me those boxes. Dad was half-heartedly sent his baby out of town for college, and he compromised a lot things, including letting me having instant noodle.
Dad's rations are not the reason I love instant noodle so much. My sisters & I are noodle lovers, and that includes the instant ones. Living by myself in different city made my life kinda depend on it. I liked to add chopped turnip greens, meat balls, and an egg to it. It is soooo goood. No wonder I often crave instant noodle. It's good that hubby and I barely have stock of it in our pantry, otherwise I would always make reason to have it.
Last Thursday. when I was craving for indomie I made it my own. *sigh.. why can't my noodle taste as good as the instant ones.
Mom cooked stir fried pork for steamed bun filling for our trip to North Carolina, and the leftover filling was still in the fridge. I also cooked mung bean for the bun's filling, so the pork filling leftover was still plenty. Mom told me to use it as soon as possible before it got moldy. The other leftover in the fridge was turkey from our brother. The meat was gone except the part attached to the bone. The most part of the bone was still intact except the neck that was eaten the first time for us to try since that part would have been overdone if it had been taken out the same time as the main part of the bird.
I had plan to cook mie Bandung (Bandungnese famous noodle and its sides) when my in laws were still staying in our apartment, but our tight schedule didn't allow me to do so. So, while there was a chance, I made mie Bandung using leftover pork filling and turkey meat for ourselves. The bone was mixed with ginger then boiled for the soup. I also ground chicken breast and spiced it to make chicken dumplings yet I couldn't find the wrapper. After thorough searching, I believed that I put back the dumpling wrapper I was going to buy from grocery cart to its shelf when our parents and I went grocery shopping the other day. We did grocery shopping a lot when they were here, I couldn't recall which one had that dumpling-wrapper part.
Hubby said that was the best noodle he ever had. Hehe...he is such a supportive and loving hubby. But I agree that the mix of pork filling and the turkey was great. I only added a little sweet soy sauce and mushroom to it. The turkey soup was unbelievably flavorful. I doubted it initially. But turkey is fatty, even the cooked bone can still produce great broth. The noodle, that was mixed with fish sauce, soy sauce, and pepper, again brought back my childhood. Our date on that cold winter day was perfect with chopstick-licking (is there such word?) bowls of noodle.
The next day, we decided to drive up to Indiana to visit our parents and brother. We tried to get to Indiana before it was too late because the weather prediction said that it would be snowing in the evening. It was so fortunate to have this yummy noodle for lunch to minimize our stopping time.
My friend Ray brought some buckets of okra and bags of other vegetables to church. He got those from his friend who loves gardening and does it just for fun. That guy has a lot of yields, yet he doesn't think about selling those. Instead, he shared those with his friends, and his friends' friend like me What a great blessing for us, people at church to have those fresh vegetables...for free!
It is the slime that makes okra distinctive, which gave me idea of cooking noodle that Saturday morning. Cooking this food brought back memory of my high school time at home, when I took culinary class part of school's extracurricular activities. I don't remember why I picked that class since my grandma was much better cooking teacher than my teachers back then. Anyway, cooking noodle was one of the " few results" from that class, and I didn't have any initiative whatsoever to learn to cook other things. Yes, I was spoiled by my grandma. She was the one who influenced me to love food that has thick soup like hot and sour soup or egg drop soup, which are common in Chinese food. That is the reason of tapioca or corn starch in every Chinese kitchen.
Using okra to replace tapioca and corn starch was my experiment that day. I think it worked well, although hubby said it was different kind of thickness and preferred using the starch.
Ani, my Indonesian friend called me sharing a great news. She is pregnant. She told me that she got nausea and wanted Indonesian food. Fortunately my other friend's mom was in the States, so she cooked Indonesian home cooking for Ani. What a great treat, she said. I can imagine how happy I could be if I were in the same situation. When we are away from home not to mention when we are not feeling very well, simple food like beef floss, friend tempeh, rice porridge could mean the world. The difference is, I can't find one who can possibly cooking home food for me when I am craving
Ani also mention about mie Bandung and what caused it tasted like one. I said it was the noodle that the noodle shop had. Almost all mie Bandung owners in my city were families or relatives, so their secret recipe produces constant unique taste among Bandungnese noodle shops. As for Ani, it's the cut salted radishes that makes it taste like mie Bandung. I guess both of us were right, and both us missed Indonesian food much.
My family is a big fan of mie Bandung. Thanks to Ani, it didn't need more than a reminder of how good mie Bandung was to make me craving of it. Surely enough, I went to oriental market that evening I talked to her to buy bags of dried noodle and made one for ourself. I knew my noodle's taste was miles away from the original mie Bandung. *sigh That one is hard to duplicate.
...finishing vegetables still left in refrigerator!
Since we get our veggie box every Saturday, I try to finish every veggie we get a week before. It'd happened a lot in the past that I pilled old veggies with the new and forgot about the old ones until I eventually found them rotten. By finishing all veggie on Friday, I also force us to eat more vegetable. There also times that I am too excited and cook too much vegetables. That's not good either. So, my task is to keep our vegetable supply enough for a week. Today I still had a bunch of beet greens, 2 carrots, half bag of sugar snaps, a bunch of kale, a sheet of collard, an egg, and carrot greens. Hubby better not to know that I used the carrot greens. I'd been craving fried noodle since two days ago. Those assorted veggies were perfect for the noodle.
I was almost jumping in excitement when I found this noodle at Asian grocery store. Mie Atoom Bulan (yes, double "O"), is noodle brand that mom used to buy when I was little. It brought back memories about when mom used to order grocery by phone then the store sent box of ordered stuffs to our home. My friend's parent owned that family-owned store, so we often get extras, like toys or sample products. It also brought memories when my sisters & I had Hong Kong-stars fever. We just got shared parabolic antennas that enabled us to get channel from Malaysia and other Southeast Asia countries. 5.00 o'clock PM was when TV3, Malaysian television aired its an-hour-Hong-Kong TV series. I can't believe we almost always had noodle while watching those series then still had dinner after that... and we didn't get fat
Ingredients: 2 pack of noodle
15 medium size shrimps
10 clove of garlic, chopped (I used more, the more the better)
3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs oyster sauce
Sweet soy sauce as desired
Cook noodle in boiling water until 3/4 cooked. Toss the water, mix with 2 Tbs vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Coat lightly with sweet soy sauce. I found this is very helpful to ease the final mixing.
Heat oil in wok add garlic, eggs and shrimps. Stir fry until shrimps are cooked and the eggs are lightly set. Add vegetables, add hard vegetables first (if any) then the soft ones. Add soy sauces, oyster sauce, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir-fry until vegetables are lightly soft. Add noodle gradually while mixing. Combined well. Do this last step as fast as possible because you don't want the veggies to get soggy. Garnish with pickled cucumber (acar) and fried shallots. Eat it with chili paste (sambal) if desired.
Hubby and I are fond of Thai food. We would drive far west of our city to get to a great Thai restaurant. I can't decide which one I like the best from their menu, since all are good and (I think) authentic. I've never been to Thailand to compare the authenticity, but most other Thai restaurants I find in my city mix Thai and Chinese taste. Recently, some of my FB friends mentioned about pad Thai on their wall. Since then pad Thai had been on my cooking list.
Today is a very nice day, The first Saturday when I wasn't worried about homeworks, reading, nor studying. Great time to cook pad Thai for lunch and dinner. Soon will be followed by baking for tomorrow's potluck. I still need to learn how to cook pad Thai, since mine was pale and sticky, although the taste was good.
Ingredients: 1 package Thai rice noodles soak in hot water for 20 minutes
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallot, minced
1/2-1/4 lb shrimp
1/2 cup cubed chicken
4 teaspoons fish sauce
4 tablespoon tamarind
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts
1 cup extra firm tofu, julienned
1 cup Chinese chives, chopped
2 cup bean sprouts
1 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
Place a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers, then stir fry shallot, garlic, shrimp, chicken and tofu until they start to brown. Add noodle to the wok. Stir quickly to keep things from sticking. Add tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, chili pepper. Stir. The heat should remain high. Make room for the egg by pushing all noodles to the side of the wok. Crack the egg onto the wok and scramble it until it is almost all cooked. Fold the egg into the noodles. Add half bean sprouts, half peanut and half chives. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining chive, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with the ground chile peppers and lime wedges.