October 7, 2011

Quick and Easy Faux Asian Breakfast Ramen

Wife and I have very different strengths in the kitchen.  I got my culinary training, such as it was, from Job Corps.  Wife learned to cook from me.  This leads many people to think that, should they need advice in the kitchen, I am the one to call.  I am not. 

Perhaps it's a poor idea, when trying to establish a cooking blog, to talk about one's inadequacies in the kitchen.  However, it's the truth; I am very bad at the technical aspects of cooking.  I double check "The Joy of Cooking" to get the proper cooking time for baked potatoes.  I prefer it when Wife makes the rice.  Her skills lie in, well, skill.  When she found a roasted chicken recipe she liked she memorized it, and apart from minute changes in seasoning, she makes the same bird each time.  Mashed potatoes, gravy, and a small rotating selection of veg follow as if created on an assembly line.  This analogy may make the food sound uninteresting, but it's not.  Everything is tender, flavorful, and perfect.

Throw Wife in a kitchen without the right ingredients, however, and the wheels begin to come off.  I'm not saying she couldn't produce an edible meal in an unstocked kitchen; she can.  But her strenghts lay in producing a few dishes, fully realized.  This is the yin to my yang.  While the culinary program in Job Corps did its best to teach me about cooking, I learned more in the two years after deciding that cooking professionally wasn't for me.  I spent most of that time either homeless or hovering near it.  If I wanted food that tasted good, I had to be creative.  I developed a reputation for being able to throw together random assortments of ingredients and come up with something that people were actually happy to eat.  Technique may have been difficult to get a handle on, but I've always done alright with flavor. 

Transitioning to married life, I began to share cooking duties.  Wife is certainly better at weeknight meals; when you only have a few hours together with the ones you love, it's better to leave the cooking to someone capable of producing a meal without the kitchen looking like something out of a horror film.  Additionally, health and budget concerns limit my opportunities for innovation; each meal is planned out a week in advance.  I don't mind this structure-it is what it is-but I can't say I mind when it breaks down.

Two weeks ago, I was hanging out with Boy before school.  We'd dropped Wife off at work, and it was up to me to come up with breakfast while he worked at rescuing Zelda.  We'd had oatmeal the day before, and the day before, and even the day before that.  A lack of milk prevented me from copping out via dry cereal.  All that left were eggs, and those had to last the rest of the week so that Wife could get a good meal before work, which meant that if we were going to eat them, we'd only get one apiece.  I was getting prepared for round four of oatmeal when Boy asked if he could just have ramen for breakfast.  The "no" was halfway out of my mouth when a wire in my brain began sparking.  I recalled seeing one of the many competitive cooking shows-it's hard to recall which, there are so many-where one of the contestants made a traditional Italian dish of spaghetti noodles with parmasean cheese, and in place of a sauce, a lightly fried egg was placed on the top, a take on Spaghetti Carbonara.  Could the same thing be done with ramen?  Probably-I thought I'd seen raw egg used on a noodle dish on Iron Chef.  I began to rumage through the fridge to see if there were any other ingredients that wanted to be invited to the party. Boy was skeptical.  He just wanted regular ramen with a full bowl of broth, but it was breakfast.  I didn't mind making something odd, but it at least needed to have some kind of nutritional value.  He grimaced as I contemplated whether or not to use fish sauce.

Long story short, Boy loved it.  I loved it.  It's probably not for everyone, but here is what I did in case it sounds good to you:

What you do with the other packet is up to you.

First, make two packages of ramen noodle (this is assuming you are making this for two people) but only use one flavor packet.  I use Oriental flavor ramen, but I don't think it would make much of a difference to use any of the standard flavors.  When the noodles are done, drain off all the broth and add:

3 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. soy sauce

Set aside and heat a pan to medium high heat with about a tablespoon of oil.  When it is hot, toss in:

1 lb. fresh green beans, cleaned and chopped into half-inch segments. 

The proper amount of char.

With the chilli paste.

Cook until the green beans begin to get charred on the outside, about five minutes.  Reduce to medium heat.  On another burner, begin heating a pan for eggs.  Right before you remove the green beans from heat, add:

1 tsp. brown sugar

Stir until the sugar is melted and the chilli sauce is sticking firmly to the beans, about a minute.  Be careful not to overcook, as too much heat really brings out the salt content in the chilli sauce.  Remove the beans from heat, and begin to cook 2-4* eggs until they are fried to your liking; either over easy or over medium-there still needs to be some runny yolk to run down into the noodles.  While the eggs are cooking, divide the ramen into two bowls, then top each with half of the green beans.  When the eggs are ready, transfer directly onto the beans and use a fork to crack the yolks.  Garnish with 1/4 cup of sliced green onion and serve immediately. 

* There is a lot of debate in my house about whether or not each portion of ramen should have one or two eggs.  Wife swears by the second egg, and I think the sauce created by the oozing yolks is what really draws her to this dish.  I was just looking for another way to incorporate more chilli sauce in my diet, and find the second egg to be overly filling and unneccesary, especially at breakfast.  Let your own tastes guide you. 

1 comment:

  1. Such a well written post... Did make me wonder...

    Do kids today still rescue Zelda???

    Thanks for sharing
    Dave at eRecipeCards.com