We are both passionate about cooking. I am more “specialized” in sauces and stews while she is totally into baking. But she is also Asian, which means a lot of unfamiliar spices, sauces, pastes, funny looking mushrooms, strange looking vegetables, tasty and sometimes smelly fruits, and lots and lots of space.
Once I took an initiative to organize our vast food storage and I was able to organize stuff in some sort of order:Shelf 1: Baking stuff (all kinds of sugar, aromas, all different powders, colours…) Shelf 2: Snacks (sweet and salty snacks) Shelf 3: Carbohydrates 1 (rice, pasta, couscous, polenta…) Shelf 4: Carbohydrates 2 (starch, bread crumbs, flour, noodles – and believe me, a whole lot of noodles) Shelf 5: Canned food
After almost all food was so neatly organized there was one large group of stuff left on the counter that would need own shelf if not two. These were the bottles with sauces (soy sauce, light soy sauce, mushroom soy sauce, thick soy sauce, fish sauce, shrimp sauce, crab sauce, oyster sauce, chilli sauce, sweet chilli sauce, teriyaki sauce, spicy bean sauce, ketjap manis [Indonesian style sweet soy sauce], spicy mango & lime sauce, and I am sure I missed at least 10 or more of them).
Oh, I’m not over yet. Those were only sauces. Now come the pastes (red curry paste, green curry paste, hot chilli paste, tofu paste, chilli paste with holy basil, sambal oelek and shrimp paste). I will stop at this point in order not to make you fall asleep, since you are not reading this for bed time story, are you?
While listing these sauces and pastes I remembered Forrest Gump and his friend Bubba.
[Source: IMDb] – Bubba: “Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”
How did I solve the problem of finding a suitable space for all the funny looking sauces and pastes and at the same time not causing World War III? I emptied one small fridge we were not really using much, put all the sauces on shelves, pastes in the door compartments, and powdered stuff in the fruits and vegetables drawers. Problem solved. Now we have neatly arranged pantry and also Asian stuff is in one place and within easy reach.
Udon noodles with kebab meat and peas
It took me quite some time to start thinking the Asian way and using the ingredients I did not grow up with. I am still barely touching the surface, but I’m trying my best. And not without success. Here is my yesterday’s invention. I cannot simply step out of my skin, so I used half Eastern and half Western ingredients:1 package of Udon noodles (1 pound; 454 g) 120 g (~4 ounces) of frozen peas 200 g (~7 ounces) of frozen kebab meat Chopped pickled hot chilli (10 or less according to taste) Pinch of salt Olive oil Soy sauce Ketjap manis
1. Cook Udon noodles in salty water for about 2 minutes or according to packaging instructions (make sure noodles are not fully cooked) 2. Drain the noodles. 3. In wok heat about 2 spoons of olive oil and add frozen kebab meat. Sautee for about 3 minutes. 4. Add frozen peas and chilli. 5. Add generous amounts of soy sauce and ketjap manis. Stir well. 6. Finally mix in the noodles and cook for another minute on low heat.
This is a simple dish, done in about 10 minutes, including all preparation. Dish is characterized by umami of soy sauce and sweetness of ketjap manis. It also looks and is healthy because of bright green peas and is also reach in proteins. Bon appétit!