My craving for “correct” Asian(Japanese, Korean, Chinese) food has been overwhelming lately. There is a so-called Chinese food restaurant in our town but unfortunately the food at the China Castle Restaurant is as unappetizing, inauthentic and distasteful as the food in the “Mexican” food restaurant, Fiesta on Main, next door.
We did find an authentic Chinese restaurant about 9 miles away in the town of Hawley called The China House. This restaurant, run by a family of apparently 1st generation Chinese Americans, serves first rate, old school Chinese food from an open kitchen of steaming woks. The China House is mainly for take-out and, unlike the China Castle, they have put absolutely no effort into making the store front, dining room and counter areas attractive. Still, they are always busy, probably because of the superior quality of the ingredients and the preparation.
What I really wanted was fresh udon noodles with hon tsuyu sauce. While Scranton has many Japanese style restaurants, they specialize in the Pennsylvania crowd pleasers of hibachi grilled meats and vegetables, tempura and sushi. The few noodle dishes I saw were fried with mixed vegetables and meat. Nothing as simple and pure as a bowl of thick, slurpable, udon noodles.
Disappointed but not defeated, I bought some regular, dry somen noodles at Wegmans and cheered myself up with the thought of making a Wagamama-like noodle soup bowl with a broth base of shimeji dried mushrooms from the pantry. The water from the soaked mushrooms, mixed with a few seasonings, makes an awesome broth! You can either store the mushrooms for use in a future Asian dish or steam them with chillies, soy sauce and rice vinegar to use as a noodle topping. I steamed 🙂
After the broth is made, all you need are your choice of Japanese-like toppings. I chose spinach with garlic and shitake mushrooms, stir fried tofu, hard boiled egg, steamed shimeji mushrooms and char sui pork.
I just love “s” hooking pork pieces and roasting them in the oven! After marinating the pork pieces in char sui sauce (I’ve fallen out of love with my usual jarred brand, Lee Kum Kee, and will make my own next time) overnight, you just “s” hook them, hang them from a top rack and roast, basting for about 45 minutes.
A few years back, my husband understanding what I wanted to do, recommended “s” hooks and I have perfected this oven method over the years. It’s fun!
A good char sui marinade will give the meat a pronounce reddish color. I think Lee Kum Kee has changed his formula and maybe has taken out some of the red dye?
Still, the flavor was there even if it looked different and char sui is an excellent sandwich filler and noodle topping.
I slurped these noodles 😉
Noodles and Soup Base
2 cups dried shimeji mushrooms
9 cups hot water
4 heaping tsp dashi powder
4 tbsp tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar
4 bundles of dried soba noodles
Soak the mushrooms in the hot water for 1 hour. Strain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add the dashi powder, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to the reserved liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the noodles to the broth, bring to a boil and boil for about 3 minutes. Divide the noodles between serving bowls, top with toppings of choice(spinach, tofu, pork, etc), then ladle broth over all.
Char Sui Pork Tenderloin
2 small pork tenderloins, cut into 6 inch pieces
1 jar of char sui sauce or homemade sauce
Marinate the tenderloins in the sauce for about 3 hours or overnight. Remove the pork pieces, reserving the sauce for basting. Pierce each pork piece with an “s” hook. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Hang the pork pieces from the top rack in the oven, positioning so that the juices drip on to the baking sheet. Roast in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes, brushing with sauce every 15 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.
Note: To easily and safely baste the pork pieces, unhook the pork from the rack with a long kitchen fork and allow to fall onto the baking sheet. Remove from the oven and baste, then re-hook the pork to the rack with oven mittens.
I quite like the places that don’t decorate – it’s part of the hole in the wall charm for me.
Your noodle soup looks excellent and those “S” hooks are brilliant. You’ve reminded me of my favourite foodie film – Tampopo 😉
Thank you Mad. I like that movie too 🙂 Our family ate at many a hole in the wall in California. They were best!
I don’t doubt that 🙂
what an excellent idea the little hooks are.. I must try this, or more sensibly pass it along to the cooker of asian food in our household – John. If he ever stops working and comes up for air in the kitchen.. c
Thank you c. Hope he tries it. The Japanese style barbecued pork is wonderful.
Gorgeous and appetising. The mushrooms look to-die-for! I’ve been eating ramen and noodle soups recently. So delicious.
Thanks Frugal. I love Asian noodles!
that looks so fantastic! I must try this!
Thank you Trish.
do what i do…go to the restaurant and ask them to make you the same stuff they make for their family. i get the best chinese food that way.
That works in certain areas jaz 🙂
“S” hook method is simply brilliant!!!. I always enjoy your write up but this one is simply 👍👍👍
Thank you Audrey.
That looks so delicious! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you mommy.
Looks hot! I feel your pain with the local Chinese joint 🙂
Same problem in Sens. I’ll have to cook the Asian dishes I want myself.
As least you’ll get a good meal 🙂
That looks very nice! Japanese soups must be trendy right now.
Not for the Japanese 🙂
Love Japanese noodle soups, this is definitely a delicious recipe I need to make for myself!
Thank you Thalia and Bon Appetit!
Ok. so now you know what I’m craving 😉 We have a new Chinese restaurant about to open around the corner from us in England. I met the owners who are 2 young girls and a guy – I have high hopes but if it doesn’t work out I know where to come for inspiration!
Thank you Chica. Good luck with the new restaurant. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
…although I think I’ll have to make this gorgoues Japanese dish before they open!
I wish I could give this post five ‘thumbs up’, plus some kind of cartoon face showing ‘shock and awe’!! You are simply amazing!! There’s a few people I’d like to adopt me… or… whom I’d like to live next-door to… amazing cooks like yourself !!
I get take-out from a local Chinese place… it’s the usual type of place .. the sort that people in China would turn their noses up when they saw the food offered. The place is pretty dumpy.. but I do like the food… even if it’s far from authentic! PS We traveled to China a bit more than 20 years ago… the Chinese were still wearing those ‘uniforms’ and driving bikes, and they’d never heard of capitalism. The trip was wonderful – and the food was fabulous! PS #2 How are you so familiar with REAL Japanese and Chinese cooking?!
Thank you Cecile. That’s funny, we were in China in 1992 for a visit! Fabulous food! But also, I grew up in California and had access to inexpensive, quality Asian cuisine. Whenever I’m eating in another state in the U.S. I always judge the food by California standards. In addition, having lived most of our lives serving in diplomatic missions, we were many times invited to Asian Embassy residences for cocktails and/or dinners. The above has made me very difficult to please 🙂
Thank you allergic.
Beautiful dish and colours! I’d love to try “s” hooked pork, it does sound like good fun.
Thank you reg. I’m thinking of s hooking some boned chicken thighs next 🙂
Love it – the food and the cooking methods!! Thanks so much for sharing that, Rosemary!!
Thank you midi.
I haven’t made one of these soups in so long. Thanks for the inspiration! Your lovely photos, as always, caught my attention 🙂
Thank you. I haven’t made these soups often enough lately. Tis the season!
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