Sunday, October 19, 2014

1000 Mornings of Noodle Soup

For reasons I cannot explain, I think I am going to embark on an odyssey of noodle soup every morning for 1000 days' breakfast. For the past 20 years I have eaten cold cuts, cheese, olives, toast, tomatoes, pickles, a kind of deconstructed sandwich. For a decade before that it was exclusively pancakes - which led to the dopiest little book I've ever written and the one that always gets mentioned first when I am introduced. Be careful what you write is all I can say.

Anyway, time to move on. Noodle soup calls. It all started in Boston this past summer when I had a beautiful kitchen in a highrise dorm for a few weeks and not a single utensil or vessel. I bought a tiny cheap pot and had noodle soup for breakfast. Not ramen in miso, but a kind of Vietnamese rice noodle spicy red soup, not pho, but something like it. It was SO good for breakfast.

Since then I've been making stock, freezing it, making noodles or buying them dried and fresh, just to get a sense of the range of flavors. And the world of noodle soup is ridiculously immense. But trust me, cilantro, lime, fish sauce, a chopped tomato and a shot of sriracha makes anything taste good. So this is my next batch. It's a pho base, with beef neck, ribs, lamb bones, and a lot of duck necks that were bought for like 3 dollars a big bag. I think I'm going to make a fish stock too to keep around - the lobster shell stock I made this past week was incredible.

My first shot at using alkali (koon chun potassium carbonate and sodium bi-carbonate) was not a complete failure, but the dough couldn't be pulled. Or even rolled out on a board. I used bread flour and some wheat gluten, assuming that really high gluten was what I needed. Nope. The crank roller turned it into flat noodles which are ok, but not yellow, slippery or properly chewy. I NEED a good recipe!! These are edible but not worth wrestling with. I'll work on it. In the meantime, I will have a great intense home made stock in the morning that will last a couple of weeks. And a range of noodles to throw in, rice, mung bean, buckwheat, etc. I am SO excited!!


Ken Albala said...

Oh, forgot to mention, there's onion,carrot, celery, parsnip, parsley and cilantro, galangal, lime leaves, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and probably a few other odds and ends I forgot. It smells incredible!

Anonymous said...

I know you are doing this for mornings, so what I'm going to say might be difficult, but PLEASE document, this would be a great book!

Anonymous said...

I was looking into pulled noodles a few years ago and was surprised to learn that the only recipe I saw tested in english actually used particularly low gluten flour (cake flour). This, paired with the recommendation that properly kneaded dough should be more playdo-like and not spring back, spoke to a texture that doesn't have a lot of protein structure. However, I didn't have access to alkali water which appeared to lend some resilience when sprinkled on the outside (maybe like how pretzels firm up when boiled in an alkaline solution...?)

Ken Albala said...

I think I might get a book out of this. Thanks for the idea!

Ken Albala said...

OH and yes, I think I must have remembered Martin Yan telling me they used wheat gluten in the dough, but maybe I was mistaken. He did say two kinds of flour and the alkali. I'll keep working on it! This morning was buckwheat soba in miso with an egg.