Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kare udon

Okay, this is a total phone-in. I will give the concession that I used homemade chicken stock, and sure, I poached the chicken breast with lots of fresh ginger and garlic, some sake, mirin and sesame oil, then added sliced shiitakes, Sweet Nantes carrots and delicate pearl potatoes. I even threw in some heirloom Italian pepper such deep carmine that it resembles raw beef. But this is hardly cooking.

Okay, I added cubed silken tofu, slivered scallions and sliced snow peas, and at the end I folded in some thick, chewy udon noodles (boiled separately so the broth wouldn't go all soapy-starchy).

Come to think of it, what I did was truly cooking, but the act of breaking a couple cubes of Golden Curry into soup made it feel like I was faking it. Sure, I could've just added some curry powder, MSG (yes, I keep a fatty sack of it in my cupboard) and a little sugar and corn starch, and I would've achieved the same result. But I used the cubes. And I feel like a dirty cheater admitting it.

I keep cheapie Gekkeikan around for cooking, but a nice bottle of Momokawa Diamond Junmai Ginjo (I love the cloudy Pearl Junmai Genshu in the summer) for drinking. I know it's probably sacrilege, but I heat osake in the microwave. In exactly one minute it reaches perfect blood-temperature.

Oh, p.s. I'll be in and out a bit until Sunday. My good friend Catherine Wilkinson from The Dish is in town competing at the Tillamook Macaroni and Cheese Cook-off. In case you're wondering, yes, she really is that hot in real life. Today I brought her chanterelles for her recipe, then we sat in the bar of her hotel making fun of Ilan Hall from Top Chef Season 2, who is emceeing the event. Catherine had been mistakenly calling him "Ian" all day, and couldn't figure out why he was so standoffish. For laughs, I went to the concierge and asked her to page Ilan's room to tell him he had two ladies waiting for him in the bar. He never showed up; probably because he is gay, or afraid of starfucking fangirls.

Oh, p.p.s. I'm planning a very special dinner for twelve of my closest friends this weekend. Elk roast with alder-smoked chanterelles, coho loukaniko with Fraga Farm saganaki and Hood River pear galettes with Douglas-fir needle ice cream will feature prominently. Stay tuned, and happy autumn!


Manggy said...

Hey, don't sweat it. If the Japanese use Golden Curry on a regular basis, it's pretty legit ;) Besides, it looks smashing, so who am I to argue?

Let me replace the items in the menu that I've never seen, heard of, or tasted with asterisks: * roast with *-smoked *, * * with * * * and * * pear galettes with *-* * ice cream :P

Peter M said...

I could use a big bowl 'a Asian with this winter-type cold. I really dig the Pho's with star anise in them too.

So, we're both gonna be busy this weekend, knock'em dead, don't lose site that the evening should be fun and all will work out splendidly.

Foodycat said...

It looks fab. Paul heats his sake in the microwave too (after I made him stop dipping it in the noodle pot).

I am so excited about your special dinner - those photos are going to rock!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Looks good. Loving those colours. Particularly loving the sake.

peter said...

Big bowl of udon= big bowl of love.

But I can't stand hot sake.

What time should I be there on Saturday?

maggie said...

Looks lovely and colorful, regardless of any "cheating" you may claim went on.

And your planned party sounds amaaazing. I'm not sure I can read your blog anymore, I just get too jealous about all the amazing produce/game/etc you can get in the NW.

Heather said...

Mark - The Japanese do use the cubes, and I should be happy I even have food. I can't wait to make ice cream from a Christmas tree.

Peter the Greek - I'm doing mine outdoors, so dinner will be on the table by 4 so I can get photos. You have a great one, too! Can't wait to see.

Foodycat - I only showed you about half the menu. It's going to be a bit crazy, but I hope it works.

Sketti - You're a cheap date, then? :)

Jube - Maybe you just haven't had the good kind (snotty, whiny teasing voice). I prefer the cold stuff, too, but this time of year I do like it hot. Be here by 4. My vintner buddy's busting out his homemade Pinot Noir.

Maggie - Well I'm sure you have plenty of jealousy-inspiring goodness where you live, too!

Marianne said...

Did Catherine say when she might be back to blogging? I miss her humor! ps your party menu sounds amazing...from a fellow (7th generation) Oregonian

Lo said...

This really does look too good to argue about, cheating or not. I think it's kind of refreshing to hear you use a few, select, convenience items (dare I say "like the rest of us"?).

Have a great weekend. The dinner sounds fab. I'm pretty sure the fir icecream is the thing I'm most curious about!

Peter G said...

I wouldn't call this cheating way! i call it delicious!...your thought process for cooking really is unique.

matt wright said...

Dang, that meal for your closest friends sounds great! I even had to google a few of the items listed!

cookiecrumb said...

And if I'm not one of your 12 closest friends, SHUT UP!

cook eat FRET said...

cookie and i wanta come too - and peter.

but what exactly is this for? what are you and that greek up to?


omg ... can I have some of that soup?

So, down here in Cali we have some really good Japanese restaurants. We have a soup-specific place, then a place for just real authentic Japanese-everythingelse. The soup place makes only Hakata Ramen. It's a pork based ramen soup. I think it would probably be my requested "last meal."

glamah16 said...

That dinner you planned sounds awesome. I love meeting fellow bloggers. And nothing wrong with your instant curry. I'd take a bowl of that,

kittie said...

Cheating or not, I loooove noodle soup... At least you didn't get all the ingredients out of the same ramen pack ;)

Interesting... I'm having 5 of my bestest girlfriends to dinner this weekend too - must be something in the air! ;)

tammy said...

Sure looks like cooking to me.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks pretty damn good for "phoned in" to me.

Emiline said...

The pictures are gorgeous.

That's cool that you got to meet Catherine! I hope she won the event.
And that's hilarious that she kept calling him, Ian! Oh lordy.
You know, I didn't really like him anyway. Ha ha. I can't believe he didn't meet you girls for drinks.

Brittany said...

Yummy. Looks like completely legitimate cooking to me. Who gives a fuck about a golden curry cube?

Douglas-fir needle ice cream...I'm looking forward to hearing more about that. I had an "alpine martini" a while back that had a scoop of douglas-fir sorbet floating in it. I was amazed at how delicious the piney flavor is in dessert form.
I imagine that it is amazing in ice cream

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love this. Cooking or not (and I'd consider this cooking) I'd definitely cook this!

Um... you know I really shouldn't post without having my morning coffee.


Koto said...

hey heather - nice blog! i'm overwhelmed by your special 24 dinner entry, but i can say something about kare udon.

the list of ingredients for the typical japanese kare udon would look something like this...

dashi (most typically freeze-dried bonito broth)
sliced onion
sliced beef
frozen udon (most likely not preboiled)
curry cubes (golden curry or another brand)

i think you have far exceeded anyone's expectations for kare udon. it's like comparing mushrooms and slime molds. mushrooms are pretty cool and stony, but slime molds are another worldly, aren't they?