RECIPE: Garlic Ramen Noodles with Chicken
What is umami, you may ask? If you wish to learn more, I recommend a great little series on Netflix called "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat". Even if you are a pretty advanced cook, this series breaks down the foundations of a good and flavorful dish and visits ingredient masters across the globe. The soy master in Japan inspired me to buy his 2-year-aged soy sauce as a Christmas gift for my husband. You have not tasted soy until you try his soy.
The chef on the series goes into what umami means. But basically, umami is that certain "something-something" that deepens the flavor of a dish. Think of it as the difference between a piece of white cotton and a piece of white iridescent satin. White cotton has simplicity, and it's clean, light and basic. White iridescent satin has layers of subtle color and feels different to your fingers and skin. It is fuller in texture and color. But both fabrics are technically white. In the simplest cooking terms, you can cook rice in water. Or you can cook rice with some chicken or miso broth and whole spices to add layers of "umami", while still having the rice experience.
So this dish was called umami noodles. You soak the garlic in water for a bit, then use it in the sauce giving the dish layers of garlic umami. I added chicken and other things to make the meal more substantial. It is delicious and very easy. Give your family some umami in ramen fun!
Garlic Ramen Noodles with Chicken
adapted from the NY Times
20 ounces of fresh Ramen noodles
4 large garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt to taste
13 ounces chicken breast, sliced
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
15 to 20 ounces of dried Chinese wheat noodles or fresh ramen
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of chicken stock base
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
6 tablespoons European butter
10 ounces of sliced shiitakes
1/4-1/8 of a cup of minced shallots
2 cups of baby spinach, long stems removed and leaves roughly torn up or 1 large bunch of mustard greens, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Cover garlic with 1 tablespoon of water and set aside to soak.
Cook fresh noodles in salted water for two minutes, less than package directions dictate. Reserve 3/4 cups of the cooking water and drain the noodles and keep them warm. Whisk oyster sauce, fish sauce, cornstarch, chicken base, sugar and reserved ramen water in a small bowl and set aside. Cook chicken in 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper, and take out of the pan and set aside. Return pan to the burner. In the large sauté pan with the chicken drippings, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until browned. Add the greens and cook for 2 minutes and sprinkle with salt-and-pepper. Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl with the chicken. Put the skillet back on the stove and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the shallots and garlic with the garlic water. As the butter melts and sizzles, turn the heat back on medium-high and cook the garlic. Stir in the cooking liquid-sauce mixture and reduce the heat to medium. The sauce will become bubbly. Toss in the noodles, the chicken and the vegetables, add one more cooking water if needed. Toss until everything is coasted. Let sit one minute before serving.
And while you serve up this deliciousness, show off your love of all things food and UMAMI! My hand designed shirt and apron make a perfect accessory to these noodles-or any kitchen creation!
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