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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Nabeyaki Udon (Japanese Hot Pot Thick Noodle Soup in a Metal Pot)

Nabeyaki Udon (Japanese Hot Pot Thick Noodle Soup) 1

I have a soft spot for Nabeyaki Udon (Japanese Hot Pot Thick Noodle Soup) since it's the first udon I ever tried long ago. Who can resist thick slurpy udon noodles in a warm savory broth with crispy tempura shrimp?

I picked up this 1-quart Dutch metal pot at the thrift store several years ago and knew it was perfect to keep the nabeyaki udon hot. After all nabe means metal pot.

The versions I've eaten frequently featured chicken, mushrooms, spinach, an egg, and tempura shrimp. The only item missing from my version is the sliced Japanese fish cakes.

While it looks like there are a lot of ingredients, this really isn't a difficult recipe at all. I crave a piping hot bowl of nabeyaki udon during the winter, but it can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Goi Bi Soi Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Spaghetti Squash Salad with Shrimp and Pork)

Goi Bi Soi Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Spaghetti Squash Salad with Shrimp and Pork) 1

Before Goi Bi Soi Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Salad), there was actually this savory version I made back in February with shrimp and pork. I initially encountered Vietnamese spaghetti squash salad more than a decade ago, when I was back in Chicago for a visit and staying with a college friend. I had just flown in that day, and was taking a brief nap before a potluck my friend was throwing that evening, when her mom woke me up to help in the kitchen. Still a little groggy, I vaguely remember her fishing the spaghetti squash out of a pot of boiling water and being instructed to separate the strands. I've long since forgotten what my friend's mom included in the spaghetti squash salad, just the sense of urgency as she hustled me to finish before guests arrived.

Now, of course, in the privacy of my own kitchen, the only urgency was trying to cook before darkness set in so I could photograph the dish in daylight. I didn't make it. Not that the recipe is difficult, just that it takes a bit to wait for the spaghetti squash to steam and for the pork and shrimp to boil. I didn't add the thinly sliced cabbage or pickled onions like I did to the vegetarian version so that the shrimp, pork, and spaghetti squash would get central play, although you could certainly add some if you'd like. Just added some chopped herbs and tossed with fish sauce dressing. It's best served warm, as cold, congealed pork fat doesn't taste very appetizing. Though if you omit the pork, a cold spaghetti squash shrimp salad is quite crunchy and refreshing the next day.

Incidentally, when I was looking up how to translate spaghetti squash into Vietnamese, a light bulb went off when I made the connection between soi as the classifier for fibers, such as thread, string, etc. Huh. Learn something new every day.