"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: somen noodles

dumplings and noodle bowl for dinner. . .

There’s a lot of cooking purity out there – you know, make everything from scratch all the time. I must admit I can be like that some of the time, but sheepishly, I confess to taking more and more shortcuts while maintaining a homey feel to a dish for dinner.

Tonight, I’m feeling a little lazy, having put on an impromptu eat-in last night for friends and family. So we’re going to go light tonight – both in the amount of effort on my part and the amount of food. I picked up a packet of asian chicken soup dumplings at Trader Joe’s this morning. I plan to steam them up and serve them, eating each one nestled in a large pottery soup spoon with dipping sauce so as not to lose the precious soup inside each dumpling.

Separately, I’ll cook a handful of somen noodles – very thin Japanese noodles that are usually eaten cool in the height of summer, dipped in a cup of sauce. But tonight, I’m going to add the cooked somen noodles into a dashi/chicken broth with some sauteed bok choy hearts.

It turns out that this was one of our anniversary dates that we celebrate (March 7 when we eloped and May 11th when we held a ceremony and party for friends and family.)  G. surprised me with roses and a card late this afternoon: I had completely forgotten about it! Instead of running out to an expensive restaurant in town, we enjoyed our light, simple and very tasty supper at home. Wouldn’t you?


temple food . . .

So yesterday, while I had some free time to myself in the quiet of the house and kitchen, I took out my books on food and solitude, Japanese Zen temple dishes and recipes for preparing somen noodles since it’s been so hot and humid. Somen noodles are thin white noodles that are eaten cold, dipped in a sauce with dashi, soy, mirin and a little sugar. Once cooled, the dipping sauce is enhanced right before eating with strips of nori, some grated ginger and some prepared wasabi (horseradish). Dipping bitesize helpings of the cool noodles in the piquant sauce was not only delicious, but also calming and peaceful.

I had a small eggplant in the refrigerator that I poached in a similar sauce to the dashi dipping sauce, slits made lengthwise to allow the vegetable to soften and take on the flavors of the simmering broth. At room temperature and drained of the cooking liquid, I made a marinade of Japanese flavored vinegar, sesame oil, a little soy and sugar with some freshly grated ginger, which I poured on top of the eggplant after slicing it diagonally into pieces easily picked up by chopsticks.

Finally, my daughter had told me a couple of weeks ago about a dish she had made of matchstick sliced Japanese yam and hijiki seaweed, soaked ahead of time. Having scoured our local vietnamese grocery and natural foods stores for hijiki to no avail, I had to resort to ordering it online at! It arrived yesterday and this afternoon, I sauteed the vegetables with a little of the hijiki soaking water, soy, mirin and sugar until the dish cooked to a golden brown.

Tonight, there have been thunderstorms, lightning and rain. Our days seem to be filled with the same kind of intense activity plus lots of knitting and watching the olympics on TV. The sun is now shining on windows streaked with rain. The evening is coming to a close led by this peaceful and tasty repast drawn from Zen temple food traditions. Another way to change my life, I thought to myself.