“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Quoted from John Lennon
I have always loved peanut sauce, but have never been able to recreate it. Actually, I do not think I have ever tried before, but more so no other restaurant has been able to recreate the sauce the way I like. I used to go to the restaurant Big Bowl with my family, which had the best peanut sauce recipe! No other restaurant could ever compare. Anyways, last night I was really craving something with peanuts and I remembered that I had some leftover rice noodles as well as lots of vegetables, so I decided to give the sauce a try. The meal was a wild success. It was really fun to make the peanut sauce because I didn’t really know how to get the flavor of the Big Bowl version, so I just kept adding random ingredients and tasting it after every addition. I felt like I was a scientist…or like Harry Potter trying to replicate one of Professor Snape’s potions perfectly to avoid punishment. In fact, that’s exactly what it was like, I guess only other Harry Potter aficionados will understand that comparison.
Sliced Red Pepper
Hot Roasted Sesame Oil
Chili Pepper Flakes
I was very happy with the result. Devon made the comment that this dish was a perfect example of what I learned from the taste testing I went to. There was a wide range of flavors in the sauce and you tasted each part at different times. With one bite of the stir fry, you first taste the smooth peanut butter with a hint of coconut, then for just a moment you taste the freshness of the lime juice before the back of your mouth feels the kick from a complicated mixture of spices. This dish was the perfect combination of salty, bitter and spicy.
I made this deliciously flavorful soup last week when I had a craving for some ramen. Instead of purchasing the high sodium, unnaturally flavored version sold in plastic packages everywhere, I decided to make my own fresh Asian inspired soup. I have never attempted Asian soup before because I am not very familiar with the multitude of oils and sauces used in such dishes. (for example, fish sauce? If it hadn’t been for an explanation from a Vietnamese friend of mine that the sauce indeed does not taste like the bottom of the ocean floor, I would have never gone near the concoction) However, I spent a little extra time roaming the grocery store aisles and ended up coming away with some great purchases. Namely, I was happy to find miso paste, hot sesame oil, firm tofu, and rice noodles. Instead of the usual chicken broth, this time I bought vegetable broth. I carried home my wares along with a wide selection of fresh vegetables and seasonings that I planned to chop and simmer for additional flavor.
Sliced Porcini Mushrooms
Chopped Baby Corn
Hot Roasted Sesame Oil
All turned out well but my one note is that I learned from this experience to add chopped scallions at the end of the cooking process rather than the beginning. As I simmered the soup, the scallions ended up wilting and losing their flavor instead of infusing the soup with its crunchy texture and vibrant color. In the future I will add the scallions on top as a fresh garnish. Also, this was my first time cooking with tofu. Tofu is an interesting substance, to say the least. Luckily I had my tofu aficionado roommate, Nelle, there to give me a few pointers on how to handle the soy product. I never would have known that you are supposed to “drain” tofu…this is accomplished by wrapping the gelatinous white lump in paper towels and putting a weight on top of it for as long as you have the patience for while the liquid drains out. I ended up chopping the tofu and adding it to the soup with the rice noodles. Luckily I made enough soup to set aside some portions to freeze because it was so good I cannot get enough of it! The broth turned out salty from the miso paste and soy sauce with a kick of spice from some hot sesame oil and siracha sauce. There were also some more delicate savory accents from the onions and mushrooms, which I simmered in the broth for over an hour. In fact, I might deviate from my usual breakfast of fresh fruit (it would have been grapefruit and pineapple today) in exchange for a steaming bowl of soup with my ginger peach green tea.