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~ Cooking 101 for One: Asian Ramen & Steak Salad ~

IMG_9113Occasionally I'm left alone at "the palace".  This means I'm in the odd-for-me predicament of cooking for one.  This typically involves a bowl of raisin bran in front of the computer in the morning, a wrap sandwich on the deck in the afternoon sun, and, a bag of microwave popcorn in front of the TV at night -- certainly nothing to write home about.  Today, however, leftovers (a rare-cooked steak, Asian dipping sauce and diced scallions from my last blog post, a bag of matchstick carrots in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator and ramen noodles in my pantry), inspired me to create, with little effort, a seriously tasty meal.  Tasty enough write this post.

Ramens-mainInterestingly enough, ramen noodles have only been a staple in my pantry for 5-6 years.  Perhaps all the stories, "when I was (in college, living in my first apartment, etc.), I was so broke I lived on ramen noodles", made them sound unappealing.  That said, on a trip to Japan in 1986, I got to experience 6a0120a8551282970b014e8b43cffd970dreal-deal ramen:  a wheat-noodle dish that consists of a bowl of rich soy- or miso- flavored broth, shredded vegetables and meat.  To learn more about ramen, check out this article A Guide to the Regional Ramen of Japan.  Instant ramen noodles were invented in 1958 by Momofuku Andu, the Taiwanese-Japanese founder of Nissan Foods, and, it's been named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th Century.  If it's good enough for the Japanese, it's good enough for me.

IMG_9113Ramen has a fascinating history. Prior to World War II, in Japan, ramen was called "shina soba", or, "Chinese soba", and it was sold, along with dumplings, in street-food stalls owned by the Chinese living in Japan -- who made the noodles and wrappers from scratch.  Post WWII, cheap flour imported from the USA swept the Japanese marketplace at about the same time Japanese troops were returning home from China and East Asia (from their posts in the second Sino-Japanese War).  Many of the returnees, who had become familiar with Chinese cuisine, started opening Chinese restaurants across Japan.  That said, ramen, still required eating out.  When Momofuku Ando invented instant ramen, it allowed anyone to make a simplistic version by adding boiling water.  In the 1980's ramen became a worldwide foodie trend -- I was there in 1986. 

The single guy or gal's 10-minute Asian ramen noodle salad:

IMG_90971  3-ounce package, instant ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded), cooked and drained according to package directions (about 3 minutes), rinsed under cold running water and patted dry (free of moisture) in a few paper towels

6-8  ounces rare-cooked beef top sirloin roast or grilled steak, very thinly-sliced and slices cut into very thin strips, about 3/4-1 cup

1/2  cup store-bought matchstick carrots

6  tablespoons thinly-sliced scallions, diced yellow or sweet onion may be substituted

2  tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

2  tablespoons lightly-toasted and chopped unsalted peanuts

6-8  tablespoons recipe for ~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~ (See Cook's Note Below -- "the secret's in the sauce", so, no complaints if you don't use my recipe.)

Prep & place ingredients (except sauce) in a medium bowl:

IMG_9103Add 6 tablespoons of MY dipping sauce to start, toss & taste:  

IMG_9105Toss in more sauce, in tablespoonfuls, if necessary, to taste:

IMG_9109Serve & savor every seriously scrumptious bite:

IMG_9134Cooking 101 for One:  Asian Ramen & Steak Salad:  Recipe yields 3 cups/1-2 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart saucepan; small colander; cutting board; chef's knife

IMG_9089Cook's Note:  For my ~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~:

4  tablespoons soy sauce

4  tablespoons rice vinegar

2  tablespoons very-thinly-sliced scallions (green onions)

1/2-1  teaspoon finely-minced hot cayenne chile pepper (optional)

1  tablespoon ginger paste

1  teaspoon garlic paste (optional)

4  teaspoons sugar

1  teaspoon sesame oil

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Recipe yields 3/4 cup.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017) 


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