Does it look like Christmas?
Well, it certainly felt like Christmas to me. Through my advertiser, Foodbuzz, I received a $30 credit to Asian Food Grocer. That gave me the chance to try out some Japanese grocery items that I normally wouldn't buy such as two types of mirin (Japanese cooking sake.), kombu (Japanese seaweed for making stock), and red miso paste (I have white miso paste in the fridge.). To round it out, I also got curry mix, udon noodles, yam noodles, Chinese black pepper sauce, and a tea cup with infuser and lid. Nice, yeah? Hey, it wasn't all free, I did pay $6.18 for the shipping. ;)
Actually, if you have trouble finding Asian grocery items where you live, I would recommend Asian Food Grocer. Most items were reasonably-priced, carefully packaged, and delivered within days at a reasonable cost.
Anyway, so after receiving my box of goodies the other day, I was eager to test out the mirin. I've always been cheap and used either hsiao xing (Chinese rice wine) or regular white wine. I poured out a spoonful of each and found the green bottle of Ryorishu mirin to be quite strong, 13% alcohol. The yellow bottle of Jozo mirin was sweeter and had less alcohol, 8.5%. Very drinkable even. Normally, if I were to buy this myself at the grocery store, I'd just get one and try it out and maybe try another type or brand later. So it was quite nice to be able to get both and compare.
Mirin is often used with fish dishes because the alcohol helps to reduce the fishy smell. I decided to pair it with a small piece of venison I had saved in the freezer for stir-fries. Some people think venison is gamey but I've never had any problems. The trick is to rinse the meat after slicing to remove excess blood, which is where the gamey smell often comes from. Using mirin helps to further reduce any gameyness.
Super quick and easy recipe. From the time I sliced the veggies to plating was less than half an hour. Just remember to start marinating the meat first so it has more time to soak in the flavor.
Yaki Udon (Japanese Stir-Fried Udon Noodles)
For two servings, you'll need:
2 7-oz packets of fresh udon noodles
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 lb venison or beef, sliced into strips
1 tblsp mirin or white wine
1 tblsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or hoisin sauce
1 tblsp mochiko (Japanese sweet rice flour) or regular flour
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Slice meat into strips about 1/2-inch by 2-inches. Rinse. In a bowl, add 1 tblsp mirin, 1 tblsp kecap manis, 1 tblsp flour, 1 tsp ground black pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Slice onion and bell pepper into strips. Set aside.
Now get all your ingredients together to start cooking.
In a frying pan on high heat, drizzle sesame oil and add the sliced onions.
When the onions have softened and started to turn golden, add two packets of udon noodles. The noodles will be a little clumpy, but the heat from the pan will soon soften them. If you're using dried noodles, you'll have to boil those and drain them first.
See? Softened udon noodles. Let the udon noodles brown, stirring every once in a while to get the noodles evenly cooked.
Add in the bell peppers and when they have softened to your liking, pour the entire contents of the pan out into the plate that the veggies had been on.
Then drizzle a little more oil and add the venison or beef, sans liquid, into the pan. When the meat has a nice char, add the rest of the marinade into the pan and let it thicken a bit. It's OK if the bottom of the pan gets a little sticky, just scrap it up with a wooden spoon.
Add the veggies and noodles back into the pan and toss to make sure the sauce is evenly distributed.
The order of the steps is important because this way the onions are allowed to slightly caramelize, the noodles get that pan-fried slippery-crispness, and the meat creates a gravy without bogging everything else down.
This was the last day of voting for the Foodbuzz Blog Awards. Thank you to everyone who voted for me! I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Also, today marks 2 million hits since I started keeping track on January 25, 2007. Wow. Who knew this blog would grow so much?
Thanks, as always, for reading!
1 year ago today, Tuong Ot Toi (Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce).
2 years ago today, old photos of the dragonfruit flowers from when my family first started growing this cactus fruit.
3 years ago today, my fuschia cosmos were on their last legs. Also, strawberry guava and Iceberg roses.