Thursday, June 21, 2007
English lesson, cooking class
I made my own Udon Monday night. I think they came out pretty good. I like the way they become a little softer the second day.
Recently I've decided to spend every Tuesday afternoon with my nieghbor, Saya. This past Tuesday we made garden zucchini muffins (what, you didn't think they'd last long enough to get their picture taken, did you?) and talked about the different kinds of accents in Shrek 3 and in various Japanese cities. Next week, I'm hoping she'll bring another Japanese friend. I miss my English-teaching days at ortv.
Update: Here's the column I wrote about making noodles from scratch.
Chilled noodle soup can quench the summer heat
Taste bud travels By Emily Parrino
I love hot noodle soup on a winter day. And even in summer, I don’t mind slurping steaming broth in an air-conditioned kitchen.The air conditioning at our neighbors Taizo and Sayaka Yasuda’s place was emitting little more than a rumble and a wheeze recently when my husband Joe and I went over to learn how to make Japanese udon noodle soup.
As the sun streamed through their apartment’s many windows, I think we would’ve all been suffering if it wasn’t for several cups of iced coffee and green tea. The beverages whet our appetites for our own handiwork: Cold chewy noodles, dressed with toasted sesame seeds, and dripping with a chilled broth.
Well it might seem unconventional, but Asians eat cold noodle dishes just as Americans scoop up the pasta salad. Both are cooling comfort foods. Conversely, many Asians would rather eat their salad greens in a stir fry.
If you’re still not keen on the idea of cold noodles, udon can also be served hot.Having had the chunky noodles at many a Japanese restaurant, I was eager to learn how to make them at home. The ingredients for udon soup are easy to find:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Japanese dashi (fish bouillon found at Korean groceries
2 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 sheet roasted seaweed, cut into thin strips
To make the udon dough, Taizo instructed, use 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup bread flour and a 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste). In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt and add water a tablespoon at a time, stirring with your finger tips until all the flour is moistened.
Joe and Taizo were the ones donning aprons — kneading noodle dough is a man’s job. They pounded the balls of flour and water for 10 or 15 minutes, and looked a little winded when the process was over. At this point, drink another glass of green tea, if needed.When the dough was smooth, and a little firmer than the consistency of Play-Doh, Taizo divided it into two balls. Next, he pushed a divot in the center of each ball with his index finger and pinched the opening shut, as if to trap a little bit of air inside each lump. He placed the dough, puckered sides down, in a bowl covered loosely with a dish towel. While the balls rested at room temperature for an hour, we played UNO and drank more tea.
Next, Taizo placed a spoonful of cornstarch onto the counter, spreading some on his hands, on a rolling pin and on one dough ball before he rolled it into a large rectangle.He slathered more cornstarch onto the surface of the dough.“Cornstarch is very, very important,” Saya stressed.“So it won’t stick together,” Taizo explained.
Next he guided Joe to fold his sheet of dough into thirds long-ways, to make cutting the individual noodles easier. A sharp non-serrated knife works best for slicing the entire slab of dough into 1/8 inch-thick strips. The ample cornstarch allowed us to uncoil the noodles and bundle them in groups of 7-10 noodles.
I noticed Taizo would gently coax stubbier noodles into a more slender form — keeping the length of noodles in each bundle consistent. As our udon began to take shape, Saya put a pot of salted water to boil on high heat and prepared an ice bath in the sink as well as a colander over a bowl.When all the dough was cut and all the noodles divided into easy-to-grab bundles, our noodle-making assembly line began. Saya grabbed the noodles, a bundle at a time, and dropped them into the boiling water. She swished them with chopsticks to keep them from sticking, and a cloud of cornstarch billowed from the noodles. In a few seconds, the noodles turned from white to pale yellow, and she scooped them from the pot to the ice bath. A moment later, Taizo scooped the noodles into the colander for a quick rinse and drain.
In about 10 minutes all the noodles were cooked, chilled and ready to comfort.