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Japanese Dried Mixed Noodle Toppings


(serves multiple portions)
Dried Noodle Toppings are something you keep in the fridge and sprinkle over freshly cooked soup noodles to instantly transform a mundane bowl of noodles into a symphony of tastes and textures. The toppings are created from a mix of small dehydrated vegetable and seafood items which come back to life after a few seconds in hot soup. While great with instant noodles, they also go very well with oatmeal, congee or any kind of gruel. With Dried Toppings, you needn’t worry about cooking meat to go with your noodles ever again.   
 

Ingredients Mixed Noodle Toppings

  1. Wakame (a.k.a. dried sea mustard)
    a delightful bouncy seaweed which is commonly found in miso soup. It has a mild taste and mainly serves to add the texture of seaweed to your noodles.
  2. Nori (a.k.a. laver)
    a type of crispy seaweed which is processed into paper like sheets. You have probably come across them in sushi rolls. Nori practically falls apart when it gets wet but it does provide gives the flavour of seaweed that Wakame provides the texture of seaweed lacks.
  3. Sakura (a.k.a. cherry shrimp)
    These give your noodles that occasional something crispy and tasty to munch into. They also give your broth an undertone of seafood flavour. You can find out more about sakura on this page.
  4. Dried Shrimp Roe 
    These deepen the hint of seafood from the sakura. You can find out more about this item on this page.
  5. Wheat Spirals
    This is a mainstay of Japanese noodles in clear soup. When hydrated, these spirals feel and taste a bit like a mini rolled up omelette. They also absorb the taste of the broth very well. These are made of gluten, so gluten-phobics be aware.
  6. Dried Bean Curd
    These are small bits of bean curd which have been toasted till they are completely dry. They impart the balancing taste of bean curd to your soup.
  7. Sesame Seeds
    These are a dry substitute for sesame oil. According to convention you should use white sesame if you are using whole seeds (nice crunch) and black sesame (flavours the soup) if you intend to mill them into powder.
  8. Dried Scallion
    You can dry these out in an oven wrapped in foil or just buy them in a bottle. They add a hint of cooked onion to the soup.

Toppings Ingredients

Preparation 

  1. Rather than give you the exact amounts of ingredients, I’ll refer you to the picture above with all the ingredients in the right proportions.
  2. The two types of dried seaweed are required in larger amounts than the rest of the ingredients as you can see and they are essential for noodle toppings. All other ingredients are optional or substitutable with other dried items.
  3. You basically just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and them store them in a zip-loc bag or air tight box in the fridge. All the ingredients are fully dehydrated so they will keep for a long time in the fridge. If any of your ingredients come with a pouch containing drying agents when you purchased them, you should throw these into the zip-loc/box to keep all the ingredients bone dry.
  4. The amount suitable for a big bowl of noodles is whatever you can grab with three fingers. Do not use too much of the toppings or your noodles will get over powered. I usually put the toppings in the bowl before pouring in the noodles and soup (which would make them bottomings) so there is sufficient hot soup to hydrate them properly.

NotesBefore and After

  • Try not to substitute in too many items which have been preserved using salt. Otherwise, your noodles may become too salty.
  • Use only small bits. Don’t substitute in dried items which are too large to rehydrate in a few seconds of boiling water. So things like whole dried mushrooms are out. 
  • You can buy ready mixed noodle toppings as well, at any place which sells dried Japanese goods.
 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Japanese, Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Capellini with Sakura Shrimp


(serves 8 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course)
This was my first successful attempt at an Angel Hair dish. It is surprisingly heavy for a pasta dish, and is ideally served as a starter in half-portions. The philadelphia cream cheese was the ‘missing ingredient’ that took me quite a bit of trial and error to discover. It somehow blends with and takes the edge off the anchovy flavour, creating a really unique taste for the dish.

Ingredients

  1. Anchovies in Oil (50g)
  2. White Wine (1/3 cup)
  3. Salmon fillet (100g)
  4. Sakura Shrimp (6T)
  5. No. 1 Capellini (250g)
  6. Cream (1/3 cup)
  7. Cream Cheese (2T)
  8. Chopped Parsley (1T)

Preparation

  1. Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan for the stock. Throw salmon in and cook for 10 min. Turn off heat and remove the fish from stock. Mash with a spoon to detect and remove any bones.
  2. Mash the anchovies in its own oil all and fry in a pan together with 4T of olive oil. When hot, throw in the salmon pieces. Stir fry with a wooden spoon and make sure all the salmon is thoroughly flaked and browned, then add the white wine as a deglaze.
  3. When the pan begins to dry, add the cream and 1 cup of fish stock just after turning heat off. Add 0.5t sugar and 2T of (Philadelphia) cream cheese.
  4. Boil a pot of water with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. Place the capellini into the water for two minutes and not a second more. Drain immediately. It should still be semi hard.
  5. Lightly toast the Sakura in a toaster oven while the pasta is cooking and leave them inside the oven after the timer goes to keep them warm.
  6. While the pasta was cooking, you should reheat the salmon sauce. Immediately upon draining, stir fry the capellini for an additional minute in the sauce where the pasta should soak up most of the liquid. Turn heat off and mix in an additional 4T of olive oil and 1T of finely chopped parsley.
  7. Using a large fork, twirl the capellini on to the serving plates. Sprinkle the Sakura and black pepper as a final garnishing before serving. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • This is a re-post using a name that is more easily searchable.
  • If you don’t know what Sakura Shrimp are, click on the link.
  • I like to use salmon head instead of salmon fillet, which imparts more flavour to the stock. In an emergency, you can use canned salmon too.
  • Use only No. 1 capellini as No. 2 is too thick for this recipe. (i.e. No.1 = Angel Hair). Capellini is notoriously difficult to work with as it becomes mushy for 100 different reasons. Its extremely small diameter ( i.e. large surface area to volume ratio) makes it soggy very quickly if a water or cream based sauce is used. Oil on the other hand, locks out additional moisture and keeps the pasta springy, so it is my belief that Capellini can only ever be served with an oil based sauce.
 
 

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What are Sakura Shrimp?


SakuraKnown also as Sakura Ebi, Cherry Shrimp or Cherry Blossom Shrimp, these are tiny shrimp caught from a certain bay in Japan, the name of which eludes me at the moment. As you might gather, they are named after cherry blossoms, because of their similar colour. There are may ways to eat Sakura but if you live outside of Japan, you will have to make do with the boiled and then sun-dried variety, which is the variety which I use, and refer to.

OK, enough about the background. So what is so special about Sakura? They have a light crispy texture, and more importantly they retain (for an eternity compared to other crispy food) their crispiness even when put into liquid. This is because other crispy food is made crispy artifically by removing water through heating. If they get re-hydrated, they become decidedly uncrispy. Sakura on the other hand are naturally crunchy because they are crustaceans. This makes them the ultimate sprinkle-on-top food.

Where can you find Sakura Shrimp? At any Japanese food specialty store or Japanese supermarket. Don’t confuse Sakura Ebi with the more common Chinese shell-less dried shrimp. Those can’t be eaten without lots of cooking, and in general are unsuitable for Western cuisine. If you would like a recipe which uses Sakura Shrimp, try my Angel Hair with Sakura .

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2009 in Ingredients, Japanese, Seafood

 

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Angel Hair Nippon-ara


This post has been reposted here under a new name.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Appetizers, Italian, Pasta, Recipe

 

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