We took our daughter back to college yesterday and picked up her Lexus she received for Christmas, that has been waiting at the Toyota dealer in the school’s town. Okay, it was a 2004 Lexus, but hey, we didn’t even know that Toyota made Lexus and were just looking for a Corolla and, boom, the price was right and the car was in good shape with under 100,000 miles. It’s got leather seats and some sort of bizarre red wood inserts around the dash. She is so pleased! Now all she needs is her 40 acres 😀
After we got her settled in her dorm room, we suggested lunch at a Vietnamese Pho shop that we saw on the way to the school. Ole Jade, impatient to see the back of our heads, declined. Probably so that she could take her car out for a spin, loaded with young friends as irresponsible as she is, raring to break laws and speed limits. “Maybe that’s not fair”, said her parents never 😀
Anyway, slightly worried but excited about the Pho, we entered the restaurant. Very nice people, but I have to think that their family’s livelihood and profit was the motive for opening this restaurant. I always think that the most important part of a Pho or any Asian soup is the broth, usually taking time and flavor enhancing ingredients. I hate to think that they just heated up several cans of on sale, off brand, beef broth but it tasted like that. The crunchy vegetable toppings were sparse; 1 tablespoon of bean sprouts, 2 thin leaves of something green and 3 slices of mild jalapeno peppers. The few slices of meat floated dismally and overcooked on the soup’s surface. Disappointed we smiled at the very nice people, told them everything was wonderful and took our lying, unsatisfied faces to the nearby Casino for an hour of mindless fun before heading back home.
So this morning, with cravings unsatisfied from yesterday, I decided to make something Asian. I didn’t make Pho because I, like the restaurant, didn’t have all the necessary ingredients and didn’t want to go to the store. Why should I? There’s always something in the freezer, refrigerator and pantry. I found some oxtails, some baby bok choy and 1/2 pkg of dry soba noodles and 1/2 package of dry udon noodles. Game on! We have got to make a run to New Jersey for French wine and fresh udon noodles!
I modified my Asian Braised Oxtails recipe to create enough sauce to boil the noodles after the oxtails were cooked.
Asian Braised Oxtails II with Noodles
2 1/2-3 lbs oxtails
1/2 cup Tamari soy sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
12 thin slices of fresh ginger, skin on
4 star anise
3 sticks cinnamon
Peel from one mandarin, cut into strips
1 package of Japanese dried noodles(soba, udon, somen, etc.)
Mix the soy sauce, sake, brown sugar and water together and set aside. Place the oxtails in the bottom of a pressure cooker. Sprinkle the scallions, ginger, star anise, cinnamon sticks and mandarin peel over the oxtails. Pour the soy sauce mixture over all.
Put the top on the pressure cooker and seal well. Put the little bobble thing over the vent in the middle of the pressure cooker top. Turn the gas up to high and when the bobble starts to swing back and forth, decrease the heat until the bobble continues a gentle swing. Cook for 30-35 minutes, remove from flame and set aside until the pressure button, located at the top of the handle, sinks completely to the bottom.
Open the pressure cooker and place the oxtails on a platter. Strain the solids from the sauce and discard. Bring the sauce back to a boil, then add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Remove the cooked noodles and place on a platter with the oxtails. Serve with the oxtail sauce.
Steamed Baby Bok Choy
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp water
6 baby bok choy, stem ends removed and sliced in half vertically
Mix the oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, sugar, peanut oil and water together well, then set aside.
Steam the bok choy halves in a steamer or wok for 5-6 minutes. Remove the bok choy, place on a platter and drizzle with the oyster sauce.