Posts filed under Noodlemania 2012

Noodlemania Week #6-DanDan Noodles

DanDan NoodlesThere are certain types of days when one craves healthy foods. For me those days usually fall into two categories: 1) The day after a party or a Big Eat or 2) A sunny day when my optomism is overflowing

Last Sunday did not fall into either of those categories. Last Sunday was a mess,  It was overcast, I didn't feel good, the batting average for my toddler's dry sheets in the morning was alarmingly low, I had terrible nightmares all week and we found out that there was a possibility that a wave of layoffs would hit our family.

It was not a day for virtue or platitudes about not hiding feelings with food. It was a day for stop-gap measures and burying your head in the sand.

It was a day for Dan-Dan Noodles followed by a nap.

I first learned about Dan-Dan Noodles from Fuschia Dunlop's excellent book on Sichuanese cooking. Ever since then I've been thinking about them, longing for them, imagining them etc. etc. The basic ingredients boil down to primal basics: carbs, chile, red meat, salt and fat. They are wonderful and decadent.

They are also tricky little beasts. A steady hand is needed when you are using extrmely volatile chiles, sichuan pepcorns, high heat and ludicrous amounts of soy sauce. I have messed up DanDan Noodles more times then they have come out perfect but if you do it right these noodles are heaven: salty enough to cure a primitive survival need, slick with sesame and bursting with chile to burn away your worries for a little while.

Last Sunday mine weren't perfect, but they were good enough to get the job done. We slurped them down in a frenzy of self-pity and they induced a carb coma of the most comforting variety. Two hours later I woke up ready to face the world. This weekend we're feeling like fresh veggies, but I have sichuan peppercorns on reserve, just in case. :)

Get Fuschia's recipe here.


Posted on March 15, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT.

Noodlemania Week #5-Domino Soba

Many of you who visit the design blogs fondly remember the dearly-departed Domino magazine. I was quite infatuated with the first issue I got in the mail and an amazing looking soba recipe that was featured. It was touted as a cleansing respite from the indulgences of the holiday season. After the delicious yet insane festivities from our SuperBowl fry-fest I was looking for some delicious penance.

Bless me father for I have eaten too many fried pickles.


We all make mistakes my child. Please eat a bowl of soba and medidate on your mistakes.

I wanted so badly for this to be a triumph but my bowl of soba came out... mediocre. I am not sure if the ramen restaurant near my house has elevated my taste for japanese soup or if it was the fact that I forgot a key ingredient for creating the broth (I didn't have mushroom stems because I accidentally bought caps only) but I found it to be only so-so. That is not to say that I didn't squirt it silly sriracha and eat it all over the course of the day happy as a clam. Please. I may be a sinner but I don't waste food and quite frankly there are very few things that hot sauce can't save.

Can I get an amen?

Posted on February 28, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT.

Noodlemania Week #4-Learn from my Mistakes

Much as I would like to pretend that everything I turn out in the kitchen is perfect/edible this is not the case. Week #4 doesn't look so bad on the plate, but it was not that enjoyable on the palate. It was dry and not too tasty and did I say dry?

I'm learning over time that one of the most important techniques to master in noodles dishes is balancing the sauce to noodle ratio. Too much and everything is soup and the noodles get soggy, too little and you get Week #4 noodles, dry and tasteless.

You might be wondering why I am bothering to post about noodles that tasted terrible. I want everyone to remember that learning to cook is always a process and the mistakes you make are as important as the successes. I have made the sauce/noodle mistake several times in several different ways already (see Pad thai round two) but each time I learn something new not to do and develop a deeper understanding of what to do.

So on week four here's to celebrating mistakes made and lessons learned! What's the most recent/most interesting/most instructive mistake you've made in the kitchen?

PS-Also, here's a list of common mistakes. I've made most of them multiple times. I am an impatient and slow kitchen learner.

Posted on February 22, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT.

Noodlemania Week #3-Pad Thai

Pad Thai Pad thai is an accommodating meal. It has a huge dose of carbs to give you the happies (albeit temporarily and a sauce that holds sugar, salt and sour in perfect balance.

Did you want some crunchiness? It has peanuts!

Did you need something succulent? Shrimp for you!

Do you have celiacs? Welcome to pad thai's gluten-free universe.

Homey? Two words: fried egg.

It is truly everything to everyone and a snap to make. I've tried out some different recipes but I really like this one which describes the dish as "pleasantly funky with fish sauce and comes from acclaimed Portland restaurant Pok Pok. Even my kid ate it! Thank you pad thai, you complete me.

Side Note: Despite putting on a heroic effort, I could not procure sweet preserved radish. The dish was still very good without it. Also, make sure that you soak the noodles enough to soften them completely, otherwise they will soak up too much sauce and be overly dry. I mean, I'm just guessing. I definitely didn't get overexcited and make a second batch and was in too much of a hurry and made dry pad thai. I would never!

Posted on February 14, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT.

Noodlemania Week #2-Perez Improv Noodles

Perez Improv NoodlesPerez Improv Noodles

There's lots to love about Asian Marts: reasonable prices, endless aisles of sauces and live fish tanks. To my mind though the festive atmosphere is a distant second to the lack of mainstream values regarding physical space. Old ladies plow straight into you at the Asian marts and I love it! I think it's fun to shove my way through crowds. I've woven my way to the front a lot as a short girl so having a place where this behavior is culturally acceptable warms my heart.

I'll tell you though that Lunar New Years Eve at the Asian Mart was not my favorite. It was packed with people carrying roast duck which instantly filled me with unrequited envy. Plus, and no offense to all non-asians as well as 1/2 of myself but there were so many non-Asians there and they were not acting right! I felt extremely annoyed at all the good-natured white people wandering around the aisles, carefully reading labels and making chatter with their friends. "No, we need THICK SOY SAUCE" they'd shout to each other across the aisles. I wanted to shake them "NO, no, no. Stop behaving like this at the Asian Mart. You are supposed to bump people out of the way and grab things quickly!"

This of course is extremely hypocritical on my part becuase this is exactly how I act at the Asian Mart. It's not like I can read Chinese so I'm pulling the same shenanigans myself, spending 20 minutes looking for frigging preserved Tianjin vegetables.

It's a confusing cultural conundrum, or maybe it's not. Maybe I was just dripping wet from the rain and in a ridiculous rage because it wasn't my day to eat roast duck and get red envelopes from doting aunties. Poor, poor me.

The chaos at the Asian Mart was such that I spent 30 minutes there and still came home with only 80% of the ingredients needed for my dish. By this point I was wild-eyed with hunger  and residual duck rage was threatening to spill out of my eyes in a self-indulgent sob fest. (Am I the only one who gets this upset when hungry? No? Just me and my toddler?) So, this week you won't be reading about pad thai as I originally planned you'll be reading about the noodles that I made up with the random stuff I bought. I present to you "Perez Improv Noodles"


  • 1 packet of noodles (I used fresh shanghai noodles)
  • 3 shallots
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbs curry paste
  • frozen shrimp (defrosted)
  • 1 carrot-julienned
  • 2 Tbs of fish sauce
  • 2 Tsps of brown sugar
  • Green onions to taste ( I like a lot)
  • Cilantro for topping


  1. Cook noodles. Duh.
  2. While noodles are cooking heat up the oil, it should be not-messing-around-hot. Add the garlic, shallots and curry. Stir fry for about two minutes or until fragrant. Pay attention. Don't burn it!
  3. Throw in shrimp, brown them, but don't overcook. Rubbery shrimp is a gross waste.
  4. Add carrots, fish sauce and sugar; bring to a boil.
  5. Divide noodles between serving bowls and mix in portions of your topping. Top with green onions and cilantro.
  6. Forget about the roast duck debacle. Slump in your chair with clear eyes and a full belly. Nap (optional-but suggested for rainy days)
Posted on February 7, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT, Uncategorized.

Noodlemania Week #1-Jamie Oliver's Chicken Goujons with Noodles

Chicken Goujons with NoodlesChicken Goujons with Noodles

I usually get home at 5:30 and turn out dinner by 6:00 pm. I am quite lit-er-ally (insert Rob Lowe's Park and Rec character voice) on the 30 min. meal plan. Jamie Oliver said that this meal would take 4 minutes and 41 seconds to make. To that I say "Sign-me-up-Señor Oliver"

This meal was outrageously delicious considering how simple it was to put together. I think the secret is the onions and honey together, asian dishes are so good at balancing savory and sweet. As a bonus I had all the ingredients in house. No shopping necessary.

Party time. Excellent.

Let's go.

Chicken Goujons with Noodles

Adapted from Jamie Oliver's cookbook "Jamie's Dinners"

Ingredients for 2 servings: 8 oz egg noodles (use what you like, I used DanDan Noodles because I keep them on hand), 2 Tbs oil, chicken thighs (throw in as much as you want to eat, a typical portion is 4 oz. per person), 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and sliced, 1 fresh red chile (sub red chile flakes if you don't have them), 1 tsp five-spice powder, 3 green onions (sliced-I used way more than three because I am an unrepentant onion lover), splash of soy sauce, 1 Tbs of Honey, cilantro and lemon

Cook the noodles. While they are cooking heat up oil then add the chicken thighs (cut in smaller pieces) ginger and chile. Toss together then add the five-spice powder. Once the chicken is browned, add the green onions, soy sauce and honey. Drain the noodles then add them to the pan along with the cilantro. Squeeze with lemon if you like. Sit down on the couch and eat greedily with someone you love, or the TV. Either will do.

I'm making noodles once a week until the end of 2012. Have a recipe I should try? Send me the link! 

Posted on January 31, 2012 and filed under Noodlemania 2012, Project EAT.