My name is Panda, Kung Fu Panda


The Noodle Shop is actually a restaurant serving noodles. It’s a family business, headed by Po’s father Mr. Ping. All kinds of noodles in a broth are served. People come to eat there also because of the best tasting soup ever. But why does the soup taste so good. Well, it contains a secret ingredient.

Pasta vs. Noodles

[Source: Food-info]. The word pasta comes from Italian pasta which means basically “paste”, but also “dough”, “pasta”, or “pastry” (as in small cake). Today the word “pasta” is reserved for Italian-style noodles in English-speaking countries, while the word “noodle” has a more general meaning, including many similar Asian products. The word noodle actually is derived from the German Nudel, meaning… pasta.
Pasta can also denote dishes in which pasta products are the primary ingredient, served with sauce or seasonings.

Cultural differences

When visiting Philippines I was asked what I would want for lunch. I did not want to complicate, so I asked for pasta with garlic-tomato sauce. This is student food, at least in Europe. It costs nothing. I bet you can pay your weekly food expenses with coins, no paper money needed.

Panic! Pasta? Spaghetti? Does he mean fresh tomato? What about basil? He did mention extra virgin olive oil, didn’t he? After all I got my favourite spaghetti, but I learned what is common in one part of the world might not be perceived the same in other parts.

Another story. University professor went down under. After two weeks he politely asked why on earth he was never served lamb. “But lamb is for poor!” was a polite reply. Really? Price of lamb meat in Europe is at least on par with beef, if not more expensive.

Back to noodles

What spaghetti is in West, the noodles are in Asia. For past week I am trying to discover different ways of preparing noodles. Yesterday I was experimenting with Udon noodles and ketjap manis, today I am adding Somen noodles to my culinary portfolio.
I know perfectly well that somen noodles are supposed to be eaten cold with some sauce, or served in a broth. As non-Asian, I am not burdened with traditions and I can experiment.

Secret ingredient

Scientific work requires careful preparation, meticulous execution and loads of after work interpreting results, considering implications and also statistical evaluation of the data. Believe me; even best experimental findings have been torn apart because young scientist did not provide enough statistical data.
Cooking is done the same way: carefully choosing ingredients, weighing raw material, writing down or even recording the process of preparation, carefully combining the ingredients, cooking and finally serving.

What is missing? It could be nothing as Po learned from his father. There was no secret ingredient. Or they were not aware of it perhaps. If you are doing some mechanical work (it can also be copy-pasting of data) and all you need are two brain cells: one that controls breathing, and other that is in charge of perpetual mechanical movements, there will be no considerable added extra in your work. I think there is a special extra in all work we do as long as we are personally involved. I call it passion. 🙂

Somen with red curry and chicken

Ingredients:

Somen noodles (they usually come packed in bundles – 1 bundle about 91 grams) – 2 bundles of noodles
100g Carrots. I prefer the crunchy texture of carrots, so I just peeled carrots, and using the same peeler, sliced it into thin slices.
100g white button mushrooms (champignons), sliced
80g Frozen peas
100g Chicken breast fillet, chopped to small cubes
1 Tbsp Red curry paste
100mL coconut cream
1 Tbsp Oil
Pinch of salt
Fish sauce

Preparation

1. Cook Somen noodles in salty water, only half way. Rinse with lots of cold water. Drain.
2. In frying pan heat oil, add Red curry paste, mix well.
3. Pour Coconut cream and bring to boil.
4. Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes.
5. Add carrots, peas and mushrooms. Mix well.
6. Finally fold in the noodles and add 5 to 10 drops of Fish sauce.
7. Remove from heat, cover and let it stay for a minute or two before serving.Bon appetit!

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About Sebastjan Brezovec

I see blogging as a welcome distraction from daily routine. It gives me freedom to express myself as well as motivation for some research before publishing the content.
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