vegetarian

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon

The best soup udon I’ve ever had was in Fukushima, Japan.  It must’ve been 8 or 9 years ago.  I really wish I could remember the name of the restaurant though.  All I vaguely remember was seeing a chef making fresh udon on the spot in the kitchen.  The kitchen was built with one side of a big see-through glass, which had a resemblance of a fish tank.  And the view at my table was very much like one of those Japanese landscape paintings with a few cranes strolling along the river stream looking for food.   

Honestly, I don’t have a good memory and you know how memory tends to fade as you age.  These images inside my head could be half imagined or half mistaken for another restaurant in Japan.  But what I could remember a little more precisely was the taste of the clean broth and the chewy texture of those fresh udon.  It’s almost like I was eating gummy bear except those were noodles.  Plus that udon complemented so well by a bowl of such simple broth.  It was something like a minimalist art form that spoke very loudly.  

I’m sorry if my words aren't convincing enough but that’s the thing with food; you are better off to taste it instead of to chew on it.  ;)

This simple soup udon recipe I have here for joining Culinary Travel Week is nowhere close to be considered as a replicate of that bowl of udon from Fukushima.  However, it certainly is a comforting bowl to have in the winter. 

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon

This is the only photo of Fukushima that I could find in my hard drive.  It really was a beautiful place.  

This is the only photo of Fukushima that I could find in my hard drive.  It really was a beautiful place.  

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1/2 small fennel, thinly sliced

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1/2 thumb sized ginger, thinly sliced

400 ml vegetable soup stock or dashi stock

1 small bunch dried wakame (seaweed)

1 tbsp genmai miso 

100g cooked udon

1 tbsp chopped spring onion

1-2 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions: 

1.  Drizzle 1-2 tbsp sesame or olive oil to a small pot on medium heat, cook onion and ginger 1-2 minutes.   On the other stove, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the udon noodles according to its packaging label.  

2.  Add fennel and soup stock; bring the pot to boil.  Reduce heat to low and add the dried wakame; let the pot simmer with a lid on for 5-8 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  

3.  Whisk a tablespoon of the genmai miso in a ladle to the soup with chopsticks.  

4.  Transfer the cooked udon to a bowl and add the miso soup after.  Garnish with some freshly chopped spring onions.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy! :D

Fennel & Ginger Miso Soup Udon

Sichuan-style wontons

Simplicity and modesty are the two virtues that are close to my heart. It’s what inspired me in my everyday cooking and in the coming weeks, I hope you will see it translate onto my blog.  There is no greater joy in life than cooking for our loved ones and friends.  Some of my greatest relationships have been forged over a good home cooked meal and I hope it could help do the same for you.

For those who actually read my blog, you must’ve noticed my style of writing hasn't much to be desired.  English has never been my strong suit and as a result, it’s very hard for me to convey how I truly feel from pen to paper.  But I do hope that through my blog - you will see what I am truly passionate about and that’s bringing joy to others via my cooking.  

Some of my cookings will be derived from spontaneity, and as a result here is my vegan Sichuan-style wonton dish. This was created and inspired based on the fresh vegetables at the local market this morning.  I would like to give credit though, to this lovely lady, who inspired me while she was assembling those beautiful baby bok choy on her stand.  She even discounted me a few dollars for smiling

This dish is probably not as authentic as the Shanghainese but similar.  The original recipe is made with pork and this is the vegetarian/vegan version.  I do suggest to try making these wontons over the weekend because they do require a little bit of time for preparation.  

Sichuan-style wontons

Servings: 4 persons (around 20 wontons)    

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients: 

500g baby bok choy, chopped into small bits

100g soybean skin, chopped into small bits

50g baby corn, chopped into small bits

50g long green beans, chopped into small bits

1 tsp grated ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cayenne pepper, seeded, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp rice wine or white wine

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 pinch white or black pepper

1 tbsp roasted sesame seed

1 handful chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped scallions for cooking + 1 tbsp for garnishing

1L vegetable stock

20-25 wonton skins

extra-virgin olive oil

For the Sichuan sauce: 

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Sichuan chili oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

Method: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  

Instructions: 

1.  Preheat a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp olive oil on medium heat, cook garlic, scallion, ginger, and cayenne pepper for 1 minute, then add baby bok choy, baby corn, green beans, soybean skins, and a splash of rice wine; cook 1-2 minutes until the alcohol evaporates.

2.  Add sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper as seasoning.  Cook 10 minutes until the moisture has evaporated.  Heat off.  Set aside.  

3.  There you have the fillings cooked already.  And now we make the wontons by wrapping the wontons with 1 tsp of the filling in the center of a wonton wrap.  Dap the outer edges of the wonton skin with water to seal the wontons by forming a small triangular shape.  Fold the two side corners with a small dap of water.  Go here for more folding techniques.  

4.  After the wontons are made, bring a pot of vegetable stocks to boil.  Add 8-10 wontons to the pot and when they start to flow within 1-2 minutes, use a strainer spoon to scoop them out of the soup.  Transfer the wontons to a large bowl.  Repeat the same step to cook the rest of the wontons.

5.  Mix the Sichuan sauce with a tiny bit of vegetable stock to balance the intensity of spiciness and taste.  

6.  Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped coriander, and scallions before serving.  

Sichuan-style wontons

Sichuan-style wontons