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Eating pretty

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cooking, no matter how enjoyable, can be hell on your tummy... and I don't mean giving you a stomach ache.

For the next edition of Don't Call Me Chef (see tab above), our theme is local kuih, sweet and savoury traditional cakes. We'll be posting about that when the story comes out on March 1 in the newpapers, but having to try out recipes now is wreaking havoc on me. The kuih I am making, like so many of its ilk, contains a lot of sugar and coconut milk. That's why it's so delicious. And even though I take samples to the office to feed my colleagues, I eat  a lot of it as well. I tell you, it's going to take hours of tap and pilates to get rid of the folds around the belly that have increased in size in the past week or so!

And so it's more meals like the udon soup pictured above for the time being.

Normally, when I cook something I was going to eat myself, it wouldn't matter how it looked because I knew exactly what went into it. But since starting this blog and taking pictures of practically every dish I make, I've started to arrange things on and in the plate as artistically as I can. This wouldn't fool a Japanese person who's fantastic with all those intricate platings, but it certainly makes the food more appetising.

Japanese noodles are always delicious. I love their portion control and how balanced the dishes are. Recently, I found ganmodoki at the grocers. It's a fried tofu fritter and it makes a nice addition to a bowl of soupy noodles.

While doing some research, I also came across a noodle dish using deep-fried tofu, called kitsune udon. Kitsune is Japanese for fox, and is either named for the light brown colour of the tofu or for the fact, according to cookbook writer Kimiko Barber, that Japanese foxes adore deep-fried tofu.

Well, Lotte, my lovely fox-like dog, whose grin and eyes could make me do anything, would definitely like tofu so here's an easy recipe in her honour. The broth is the focus so garnish the noodles with whatever you like.

Serves 2

4 pieces ganmodoki (any variety), sliced
4 surimi (imitation crab sticks), sliced diagonally
1 250g package of udon noodles
3 leaves mustard greens or bak choy, roughly chopped
½ cup carrots, sliced thinly (optional)
2 green onions, finely chopped

1.2 litres water
2-3 tablespoons shoyu (Japanese soy sauce)
4 tablespoons white miso paste
½ tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sake (optional)
1 sheet nori, cut into large squares
  • Heat the broth ingredients in a pot, with the carrots (if using); bring to the boil. Put the noodles in a draining or perforated ladle and dunk into the broth to cook. Divide between 2 serving bowls. Dunk the ganmodoki and green vegetables briefly into the broth. Arrange all the garnish ingredients in the bowl and pour the hot broth over the noodles.

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