Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Asian Spicy noodle dish that breaks with tradition.

I am breaking all the rules here… First I am breaking the rule of ending the Yom Kippur fast with mounds of family and a traditional Jewish menu. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the likes of Gefilte Fish ( rings more like “GUILT” to me, you know the thick kind, the kind only a Jewish Mother can land on your mashugana head), or matzo ball soup ( I think this stuff should be bottled and sold as a substance capable of curing all ailments). There is nothing wrong with the traditional anything; it is just not for me. Not that I dislike it or have something against it, I just didn’t want to do it this year. I wanted things to be peaceful and quiet and I wanted to end the fast as far from my roots as possible, so to rationalize my rebellious behavior ( there is that “GUILT”), I thought of something New York Jews used to do ever since the … well, everything Jews do comes from long, long, ago”…

Back in the day, when there were virtually no good Kosher restaurants in New York, there were these Kosher Chinese places… To this day, if you Google Kosher restaurants in Brooklyn, you will find a staggering amount of Chinese and Asian places claiming (with various degrees of success) to be Kosher. Jews would flock to these places for various reasons, house too small to accommodate all guest, the cook is feeling lazy today or just for an opportunity to go out and enjoy eating out just like the rest of the gents. So, I thought Chinese food… and here is where I broke the rest of the rules…

Asian food is all about balance, salty, spicy, sweet, sour and umami, are the five pillars and must not only complement each other but keep each other in check. Instead of sticking with one Asian culture, I sort of rounded up all the Asian ingredients in my house, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, dumped them in one pot ( figuratively speaking) and kept on tasting as things progressed along. If the dish was coming out too sweet, I would add sour, too sour – add salty, too bland- here comes the hot pepper. You get my drift, absolutely no method to this madness, so you can imagine my surprise when at the end it was delicious, deeply savory with lots of umami flavors and in perfect balance. The only hard part was to re-create the recipe for the blog…

I don’t know how many sacred Asian cooking rules I broke, all I know is that as we ate this untraditional Yom Kippur dinner, we talked about our own family and what is right for us. We talked about what is right for us, for how we don’t need the confines of old rituals to dominate our beliefs and how we are free to build our own traditions and beliefs… One problem though, it is very hard to eat the matzo ball soup with chopsticks…

Spicy Asian chicken noodle:

Note: This dish can be made with any protein or vegetarian. A lot of the ingredients are also very flexible and can be substituted for others based on your likes.

Chicken Marinade:

1.5 lbs of chicken thighs ( you can use breasts or a combination) cubed

1 inch knob of ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 small jalapeno pepper minced

1 tbs of light miso paste

1 tbs of peanut butter

½ tsp dried kefir lime leaves (optional)

1 tbs of honey

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

½ tbs of sirracha sauce

2 tbs of sesame oil

2 tbs of sesame seeds (white or black)

¼ cup minced scallions

¼ cup of soy sauce

½ cup of dry white wine or water

Stir fry oil


Spicy noodles with vegetables

2 small carrots julienned into small strips

1 small red bell pepper julienned into small strips

1 zucchini julienned into small strips

½ cup cooked and shelled edamame beans

½ inch knob og ginger minced fine

4 cloves of garlic minced fin

¾ cup raw cashew nuts (optional or can be substituted with peanuts)

1 large package of thin stir fried noodles (you can get these at the frozen section of any Asian market)

1 cup Sichuan spicy noodle sauce (Yes, I know it is sort of cheating, but this is the only prepared condiment that I swear by)

1 tbs soy sauce

½ tbs toasted sesame oilStir fry oil

Salt to taste


Marinade the chicken, combine all the ingredients (except the chicken, the stir fry oil and the wine) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Cover the chicken with the marinade, massaging it into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hrs.

Once ready to cook, make sure all your ingredients are cut up and prepared in advance, things move quickly when cooking at a high temperature, so you don’t want to be looking for things last minute.

Heat the stir fry oil in a wok or a large skillet until almost smoking. Add the chicken and cook tossing often until it get a nice brown crust. Reduce the heat to medium and add wine. When the wine is almost evaporated, check if the chicken is cooked through and cook it a few minutes if needed, otherwise set it aside.

In the same skillet add 2 tbs of stir fry oil and the sesame oil and heat on high. Add the cashews, cook, and tossing quickly 1 min or until they begin to brown, add the carrots, cook 20 seconds, add the peppers and the zucchini and the edamame beans and cook another 20 – 30 seconds before adding the garlic and the ginger and soy sauce. Cook a few more seconds (you want the vegies to stay as crisp as possible), than set aside.

In the same skillet, gently heat the spicy noodle sauce. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously. Cook the noodles in the water for no more than 1 min, you just want to heat them through and hydrate them. Drain and toss with the sauce, cook the noodles with the sauce for a few more minutes than toss everything together, the meat, the vegetables and the noodles. To with chopped scallions and serve hot.



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