My craving for “correct” Asian(Japanese, Korean, Chinese) food has been overwhelming lately. There is a so-called Chinese food restaurant in our town but unfortunately the food at the China Castle Restaurant is as unappetizing, inauthentic and distasteful as the food in the “Mexican” food restaurant, Fiesta on Main, next door.
We did find an authentic Chinese restaurant about 9 miles away in the town of Hawley called The China House. This restaurant, run by a family of apparently 1st generation Chinese Americans, serves first rate, old school Chinese food from an open kitchen of steaming woks. The China House is mainly for take-out and, unlike the China Castle, they have put absolutely no effort into making the store front, dining room and counter areas attractive. Still, they are always busy, probably because of the superior quality of the ingredients and the preparation.
What I really wanted was fresh udon noodles with hon tsuyu sauce. While Scranton has many Japanese style restaurants, they specialize in the Pennsylvania crowd pleasers of hibachi grilled meats and vegetables, tempura and sushi. The few noodle dishes I saw were fried with mixed vegetables and meat. Nothing as simple and pure as a bowl of thick, slurpable, udon noodles.
Disappointed but not defeated, I bought some regular, dry somen noodles at Wegmans and cheered myself up with the thought of making a Wagamama-like noodle soup bowl with a broth base of shimeji dried mushrooms from the pantry. The water from the soaked mushrooms, mixed with a few seasonings, makes an awesome broth! You can either store the mushrooms for use in a future Asian dish or steam them with chillies, soy sauce and rice vinegar to use as a noodle topping. I steamed :)
After the broth is made, all you need are your choice of Japanese-like toppings. I chose spinach with garlic and shitake mushrooms, stir fried tofu, hard boiled egg, steamed shimeji mushrooms and char sui pork.
I just love “s” hooking pork pieces and roasting them in the oven! After marinating the pork pieces in char sui sauce (I’ve fallen out of love with my usual jarred brand, Lee Kum Kee, and will make my own next time) overnight, you just “s” hook them, hang them from a top rack and roast, basting for about 45 minutes.
A few years back, my husband understanding what I wanted to do, recommended “s” hooks and I have perfected this oven method over the years. It’s fun!
A good char sui marinade will give the meat a pronounce reddish color. I think Lee Kum Kee has changed his formula and maybe has taken out some of the red dye?
Still, the flavor was there even if it looked different and char sui is an excellent sandwich filler and noodle topping.
I slurped these noodles ;)
Noodles and Soup Base
2 cups dried shimeji mushrooms
9 cups hot water
4 heaping tsp dashi powder
4 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar
4 bundles of dried soba noodles
Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for 1 hour. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the dashi powder, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the reserved liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the noodles to the broth, bring to a boil and boil for about 3 minutes. Divide the noodles between serving bowls, top with toppings of choice(spinach, tofu, pork, etc), then ladle broth over all.
Char Sui Pork Tenderloin
2 small pork tenderloins, cut into 6 inch pieces
1 jar of char sui sauce or homemade sauce
Marinate the tenderloins in the sauce for about 3 hours or overnight. Remove the pork pieces, reserving the sauce for basting. Pierce each pork piece with an “s” hook. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Hang the pork pieces from the top rack in the oven, positioning so that the juices drip on to the baking sheet. Roast in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes, brushing with sauce every 15 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.
Note: To easily and safely baste the pork pieces, unhook the pork from the rack with a long kitchen fork and allow to fall onto the baking sheet. Remove from the oven and baste, then re-hook the pork to the rack with oven mittens.