Posts Tagged ‘konbu’

Grilled Octopus Salad with Konbu, Bamboo Shoots & Pickled Chiles

Baby octopus are not something I usually buy, so when I saw boxes of baby octopus on sale at T&T, it was like the Grilled Octopus Salad was meant to be. I’ve talked about not trusting T&T’s live seafood before, but frozen is frozen, and Chang even specifies that frozen baby octopus are fine in this salad.

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Traditional Dashi

Traditional dashi used to make miso soup

Dashi is to Japanese cooking what butter is to French. A cornerstone of Japanese cooking, dashi is found in almost all soups, simmered dishes, salad dressings and marinades. Most people don’t make homemade dashi anymore due to the myriad of instant dashi powders at the store, but making it yourself is fresh, fast and simple.

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Bacon Dashi

noodles in bacon dashi topped with sliced shiitakes

Sweet and smoky with a hint of the ocean, bacon dashi is something you can drink straight up, out of a mug on a rainy day, but that’s probably because I love bacon.

Let me repeat myself: I love bacon. I love the saltiness, smokiness, and crunch. If it wasn’t so bad for me I think I’d eat it everyday. When I was a little girl my mom would stop me after two slices but I’d always sneak more when she wasn’t looking. I grew up coveting those crispy strips of smoky meat.

I used to devour bacon flavoured chips, crackers and even those dried salty crunchy things they call bacon bits. I don’t eat those things anymore though. Now I just go for the good stuff, real bacon. (I don’t mean those bacon bits called “Real Bacon,” I mean bacon, the real stuff.)

konbu and bacon

There isn’t anything bacon doesn’t make better: fried rice, eggs, potatoes, and yes, dashi. Dashi is one of the cornerstones of Japanese cooking, used as the base of soup stocks and a bunch of other dishes. Traditionally made from seaweed and dried fish, Chang gives dashi a Momofukuian twist with bacon.

using up leftover bacon

Making bacon dashi is simple: 2 pieces of konbu are rinsed under running water and put in a pot to boil. Once at a boil, the konbu is steeped for ten minutes like a sea-salty tea. The konbu is removed and bacon is added, the broth simmering for half an hour. When finished, the dashi is cooled until the fat separates out and is easily skimmed off.

bacon bowl

Chang doesn’t tell you what to do with the bacon after straining it out, but it seems such a waste to not eat it, so inspired by eatnlisten.com (Update: I saw the bacon bowl at eatnlisten, but the lovely and gorgeous Jo at My Last Bite tells me she and Not Martha made them as well! And they’re super cute! Check out Not Martha’s Bacon Cups and My Last Bite’s Bacon Cups) , I decided to make a bacon bowl. The bowl came out a little wonky, maybe because the bacon was boiled, but it was crisp and rather delicious even if it was a little lacking in the bacon flavour which was now in the bacon dashi.

The result: a very  slightly milky coloured broth with the subtle flavours of the sea, smoke and pork. I poured some over a tangle of ramen noodles topped with sliced shiitake mushrooms and green onions. Bacon dashi is a keeper: simple, savoury, slurp-worthy soup.

noodles in smokey, sweet bacon dashi

bacon dashi

Momofuku Ramen Broth

Good broth is the key to good ramen. It should be sweet, salty and robust. I was pretty excited about making the broth, which was a good thing because it ended up taking over 8 and a half hours to finish.

konbu in big pot

Momofuku ramen broth is made with konbu, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, pork, bacon, and taré. I started by putting two pieces of konbu into my biggest pot. With the seaweed happily expanding, I tossed in some dried shiitakes. I love shiitakes, fresh or dried. They have a delicious earthy umami smell, but not everyone agrees. Some people like the taste but can’t stand the smell, like Mike. Isn’t that just like how people don’t like liver but love foie gras or paté? Hello, it’s all liver! Or in this case, all mushrooms!

dried shiitakes

Speaking of mushrooms, I hope you like them because with this recipe, you’re going to end up with a lot of “spent” ingredients that were just used for flavour. Strain out the mushrooms and add your chicken to the pot to simmer until the meat pulls away from the bones with ease.

leftover cooked chicken in top chef glad ware

The chicken was nice and tender with a clean flavour, so I saved it. It doesn’t mention what’s done with the leftover chicken in the book, but I didn’t want to throw away 4 pounds of chicken meat!

After straining out the chicken, some meaty pork bones are roasted and added to the broth. This is also when you add your bacon for some smoky pig flavour. The bacon is strained out after 45 minutes. I didn’t know what to do with the boiled bacon so I threw it away even though it made me sad inside. I know, I know, I threw away the bacon and kept the chicken. I’m crazy like that. But trust me, boiled bacon is not a good thing. Looking back, I should have tried to crisp it up and eat it for a snack.

After all that adding and straining, it’s simmer for another 7 hours with the pork bones still in the stock. For the last little bit, add the vegetables and then strain those out too. Finally, success!

Well…no. There was one little problem: The recipe yield was 2 quarts, but somehow I only ended up with a little over 1. The simple solution? Add more water. I was worried that adding water would make the broth less porky, but it turns out I just concentrated the broth. It was kind of a “duh” moment, because the cookbook actually suggests boiling it down for space-saving purposes.

taré

Anyway, I strained it yet again, added some more water, seasoned with the taré, and took a quick taste: success! It was smoky, porky, and delicious. There was a definite luxurious feel to it, possibly because of the copious amounts of meat used. Worth it? Oh yes.