Thursday, February 25, 2010

Few of My Favorite Things

Feeling peckish, lazy, and frugal, I wanted something quick to eat and to use up leftovers in the refrigerator.

A packet of Sapporo Ichiban yakisoba sitting amongst 4-5 varieties of instant noodles, all in a basket where I keep noodles and various snacks and soup bases from Japan, looked pretty attractive.

I wanted more than just noodles, and let out a sigh when I discovered that we did not have any Spam or eggs left.

I would have surrendered at this point normally, and cooked up just the noodles, but a plastic container of rotisserie chicken sitting in the refrigerator hogged (chickened?) up half the middle shelf squawked. Upon inspection, it looked as if a pack of dogs ravaged it. Alas, it was Bug and me who tore through the carcass, not our little Akemi and Juubei.

When I opened the vegetable drawer, half a head of cabbage with blackened edges sat amongst a patchwork of other recently acquired vegetables.

I chopped up some chicken (1 c) and cabbage (2 c), and threw it in a searing hot pan of vegetable oil.

They looked and smelled a little drab.

There are a handful of spices I reach out to give dishes a little depth. When making Japanese noodles dish, I frequently reach for a bottle of rayu (chili pepper sesame oil), S&B Japanese curry powder can, and shichimi togarashi.

Curry Ichimi
S&B curry powder and House ichimi tougarashi

The direct translation for shichimi togarashi is 7 (shichi) flavor (mi) tougarashi (chili pepper). The 7 ingredients are course ground red chili pepper, orange peel, white and black sesame seeds, sansho (a bitter Japanese pepper), ginger, and nori (seaweed).

Since I didn't have the shichimi variation, I grabbed the next best thing, ichimi tougarashi (ground red chili pepper).

A bit of curry powder, a few dashes of ichimi togarashi, black pepper, sesame seeds, and a drizzle of rayu made the combination more festive.

To be a bit more exact:
1 tsp S&B Japanese curry powder
1/2 tsp ichimi togarashi
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp rayu

The chicken and cabbage concoction was set aside.

The yakisoba package directions were followed to prepare the noodles. A few minutes before the noodles were fully cooked, almost all the water was drained. The pan was returned to the burner and the yakisoba flavor packet was sprinkled over the hissing noodles.

Yakisoba Kewpie Sriracha

Yakisoba powder included in the Sapporo Ichiban packet has the best flavor, as far as instant sauces goes. I am not as fond of the bottled yakisoba sauce. I've found them either too sweet or the worcestershire flavor a bit too dominant.

The chicken-cabbage mixture was added to the noodles and incorporated. Crushed chile peppers were added for heat.

Additional toppings after serving the noodles on a plate were sake (salmon) furikake, laver (seaweed) that came with the packet, and Kewpie mayonnaise.

The yakisoba was faintly sweet and smoky with a nudge of curry. The addition of Kewpie mayonnaise spikes the flavor and adds a creamy texture. This is one of several dishes -- okay, maybe more like one of 20 dishes -- that makes me happy to be alive.

- Cassaendra

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