Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Shortcut to Food

As some loyal readers might know, T&F is in part a musing on how to eat well while working from home. And I think I've finally cracked the code.

The answer: highly seasoned ground meat and noodles. Don't be thrown off the seeming simplicity of the dish. This can be very, very good food.

For instance, dan dan noodles, perhaps the greatest culinary gift the Sichuan province has made to the rest of the world. If you can just look past your school room cafeteria associations -- to stop beating around the bush, that's "beefaroni" -- you'll see the vast potential in this elemental combo.

The version pictured at top includes ground pork from happy, heirloom pigs at nearby Drumlin Farm and mung bean noodles, which looked very cool and just a little scary while resting in a glass bowl.

My inspiration started with dan dan noodles, which is basically soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, Sichuan peppercorn, chili flakes, and something else that restaurants do that I can never replicate at home (and no, it's not MSG, unless they're lying to me). But now I just throw together real meat and complimentary spices and it always works out. The one in the photo, which was the best yet, had a sauteed onion and bell pepper and focused primarily on the interplay of pimenton and cumin. It was so rad.

And you really could make the whole thing in ten minutes. Add more veggies to the meat and you've got a balanced meal, assuming that phrase still means anything. Use non-wheat noodles such as mung bean, rice, or buckwheat and it's that much more interesting.

This really is the fastest, most filling and flavorful lunch (or dinner) I can think of.


Recipe: Not Beefaroni

1 package mung bean noodles (or rice noodles, buckwheat, udon, spaghetti, etc.)
1 lb organic, sustainably raised meat (pork, beef, turkey, beefalo...)
1 onion
sesame oil
soy sauce

1. Boil the noodles until katame ni yuderu. Rinse and toss with oil.

1. Sautee the onion until translucent.

2. Add the meat to the same pan and cook until brown and slightly crispy.

3. Add the soy sauce and spices (such as pimenton and cumin).

4. Add the sesame oil.

5. Top the noodles with the meat.

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Michelle said...

I make something similar with either soba noodles or udon. I cook them in a little chicken stock with some carrot, scallion or onion, and garlic, then add a bit of ginger and some sesame oil. If I have leftover chicken or other veggies around, I throw that in too. I call it, "better than Ramen", because it doesn't take much more time, and is far worth the few minutes extra effort.

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