Recipe: Chilli Beef & Red Miso Udon

IMG_62482

Mondays have become de facto noodle-night in our house thanks to how easy it is to cram a load of chilli, ginger and garlic into a big bowl of ramen or udon and put the weekend behind us while catching up on Boardwalk Empire.   Due to the illegal/highly unethical nature of weekend workouts, Monday is the day to get back on the T25, so loads of noodles and vegetables provides good fuel for that.

If you’ve ever used one of those Stir Fry kits you get form the supermarket – a big bag of cabbage and beansprouts, egg noodles and a sachet of gloopy sauce for about four quid – you’ll know that they kind of suck – the vegetables are all filler no killer, the sauce is cloying, and the noodles end up leaving their impression on the base of your wok, and reducing to mush in the meal.

I went to Fuji Hero last week and noted that they overcome this problem dousing the dish in curry oil, which tasted brilliant but went against everything Noodle-night stands for.  Rather than lubing my udon with oil, I made a little bit of stock using Miso paste, mirin and soy to stop them sticking to the wok – as a bonus, it helped cook them through properly, something else which is difficult when cooking such thick noodles quickly on a high heat.

I used mange tout and baby corn this time because they were in the reduced aisle at the supermarket, but feel free to experiment with the vegetables – just be really careful not to overcook them, a couple of minutes is plenty.  The same goes for the beansprouts, you want them to provide nice bit of crunch and texture rather than going limp and sagging all over the place, so put them in when everything else is cooked, take it off the hob and let the residual heat bring it all home.

Any ingredients that don’t look familiar will be available in the world food section of any decent-sized supermarket, (including vacuum-sealed Udon which are much cheaper than name-brand versions or the bags from the vegetable section) or any nearby Chinese supermarkets which you should familiarise yourself with as soon as possible because they are a goldmine.

Serves 2.  Preparation 10 Minutes, Cooking 10 Minutes


Ingredients


For the beef:

  • 300g Shaved steak/Stir fry beef
  • 2 Tbsp Soy
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin (or Rice Wine Vinegar)
  • 2 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Clove Garlic, crushed
  • Half a Red chilli, chopped

  • 1 Carrot, julienne
  • Handful of mange tout
  • Handful of baby corn
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, julienne
  • Half a tin of water chestnuts
For the noodles:

  • 1 tsp Red Miso paste
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp Water
  • 2 portions of straight to wok Udon noodles
  • Big handful of Beansprouts
  • Spring onions, Red Chilli and Sesame Seeds to garnish
Method:

  1. Marinade the beef in a mixture of the Soy, Mirin, Brown Sugar, Garlic and Chilli – the longer the better.  If you can do this before work and leave it in the fridge all day then brilliant, but who’s that organised?  Worst case scenario, just leave it marinading for as long as it takes you to julienne the vegetables.
  2. Fry the beef in some sesame oil for about a minute, or until it’s seared.  Add the vegetables, ginger and water chestnuts and cook for another minute or so, remembering not to overcook it.  Transfer this into another pan.
  3. Add the miso paste, soy, Mirin, sesame oil and water to the wok you’ve just used for the beef and mix it all together while bringing it to a simmer.  Break up the noodles and cook them in the wok for a minute or two.
  4. Toss the beef and vegetables with the noodles for a minute to heat them up and disperse all the ingredients evenly.  Take off the heat and stir the beansprouts through.
  5. Dish it out and garnish with sesame seeds, red chilli for a bit of clean heat, and spring onions for freshness.

Review: Bone Daddies, London

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’d be forgiven for missing Bone Daddies as you turn off Brewer Street, as I almost did even with Google Maps in my hand; casting light on my perturbed expression which effectively doubled as a projection of “TOURIST” right across my forehead.
Its incongruous presence entirely at odds with Soho’s ultra-sensory barrage – the all black exterior and hairdressers’ typeface offer no clues to what awaits inside, and if you tried to be clever and use your powers of observation to look through the window at what was going on inside, you’d still not get the whole picture.  Serves you right for trying to be clever.
You’d deduce that it’s a ramen bar from the telltale signs – big mismatched bowls, communal seating, trendy young beautiful people, and those big spoons which evoke memories of your wacky mate at sixth form, drinking out of unconventional apparatus at house parties (“A pyrex jug! I’m mad, me“) – but the moment you step inside and get punched in the ear by Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, you realise you’re a long way from Little Tokyo.
Bone Daddies is a Rock & Roll Ramen bar, and with all of the adrenaline and OTT stylisation I’d be tempted to describe it as a Tarantino-esque restaurant; except it’s so cartoonish it makes Kill Bill look like Rashomon.  It’s a lot of fun, and serves almost as a caveat to the dining experience; if you’re not into this, then you won’t enjoy what’s about to happen in your mouth.

The one modest thing we ate was Tenderstem Broccoli (£4.5) steamed and served naked, with a Yuzu Kosho Mayo on the side for dipping.  The waiter informed us that Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, and along with some other unidentifiable flavours gave the dipping sauce a unique flavour.  Making light work of the broccoli, I dipped the stalks in floret-first to try and collect as much sauce as possible – daubing our table in the process, like Bob Ross painting a masterpiece in mayonnaise.
Seeing the mess I made of the broccoli, I decided to take up Bone Daddies on their generous offer of a plastic bib, provided on each table.  My reason for doing this was two-fold: 
1. I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t care who sees me wearing a plastic bib in a restaurant, and 
2. I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t want to be walking around with Yuzu mayo all down my shirt.

Mrs. Cous Cous Bang Bang helped herself to one of the hair-ties that are thoughtfully provided to prevent hair falling in your soup/flick at your dining partner.

The other starter was at the other end of the spectrum; Pork and Corn Croquettes (£5) – the impossibly moist filling tumbling out of a satisfyingly thick, seasoned panko casing.  Each one about twice the size of my thumb, which is only a useful way of gauging their scale if you’re familiar with the dimensions of my thumb.
The Sweet 3 Miso Ramen (£10) appeared in front of me resembling a delicious swamp, complete with a “clarence-court egg” (stained with tea and soy sauce, and boiled just past runny), great morsels of chicken, charred corn, and with additional Cock Scratchings (Because I’m a grown-ass man, remember, and ordering cock scratchings is hilarious B).  These scratchings were small, chewy/crispy shavings of cooked chicken skin which lent incredible richness and exciting texture to anything they came near.
There were noodles in there as well but unfortunately they were hardly noticeable in the mélange.  If Bone Daddies prided itself on the art of soba, then this would be a huge disappointment, but the real star of the show was always going to be the broth, and it far surpassed anything I’d tasted before.
My dining partner’s Soy Ramen (£9) almost looked like a diet meal in comparison.  A far more simple looking dish with its components instantly distinguishable from one another.  The broth in this meal seemed like a distant cousin to what formed the base of mine; very light and clear, not having been given the butter and cock scratching-treatment.
Occupying the first position on the mains menu, you imagine it might have been put there as an entry-level dish to wean people onto Bone Daddies way of cooking, and it serves the purpose well, while being a delicious bowl of ramen in its own right.  In the surroundings though, and when compared to the exuberance of my Sweet 3 Miso dish, it did fall a bit flat.
It’s testament to London’s embarrassment of riches that they have to further sub-categorise restaurants which would elsewhere be considered niche or speciality, and I’m extremely jealous.  You wouldn’t get a Rock & Roll Ramen bar anywhere other than the capital, and you won’t get ramen like this anywhere other than Bone Daddies.

Trinity Kitchen Febuary Round-Up: Manjit’s, Yu Kyu & Original Fry Up Material

Trinity-Feb1

It would seem disingenuous to write an entire article explaining the concept of Trinity Kitchen, considering how firmly it’s established itself in the 4 months since it opened its roof and doors to food vans and customers, respectively.  It’s a big, industrial-looking, open-plan food court with a few permanent restaurants, and a rotating cavalcade of food vans which get replaced every month or so, allowing you to pick a different vendor for each course if you so choose; an infinitely customisable take on fusion cuisine.

The fleeting nature of these food vans makes Trinity Kitchen such an attractive prospect for return custom; the constraints of the human body means you can only eat so many meals per sitting (trust me, I’ve done extensive research), so you have two choices: Come back next week and try what you couldn’t make room for this time, or miss out FOREVER*.  
*or until they return by popular demand in a couple of months.

It’s also a food-bloggers wet dream to have five trendy new street-food vans on your doorstep every month, and this is where I come in.  I mentioned return custom earlier on, and this article is a combined account of two visits, both in the past week.


It’s admirable when a chef is so passionate about a dish that they dedicate their entire establishment to serving it.  And it’s especially admirable when they take that dish and put it inside a brioche bun, so Yu Kyu was a no-brainer first destination.  Katsu is a pretty simple dish; a fillet of chicken or pork, deep fried in panko breadcrumbs and usually served with sticky rice and a mild curry sauce.  It’s the kind of introductory Japanese food that your Dad feels safe ordering when you drag him to Wagamamas on your birthday, the sweet curry sauce comforting him while he sits incredulously on a bench next to a complete stranger who’s eating soup with a ladle.  You wouldn’t get this in a Harvester.

Being such a simple dish it’s hard to imagine anybody getting it wrong, but some charlatans manage.  I’ve eaten katsu curry before which, when broken down to the sum of its parts, has amounted to a big chicken nugget with chip shop curry sauce on top.  This obviously isn’t the case at Yu Kyu though.  The Pork Katsu Sandwich (£6) was great; the meat was tender without being greasy, the panko was obviously freshly cooked and really crispy, and the katsu sauce and shredded cabbage provided the twin dichotomy of sweet, sharp, soft and crunchy.  My main concern was that the sandwich might be a little stodgy when piled into a brioche, but I needn’t have worried; some of the sauce and juices were absorbed into the bun, but each element of the sandwich was easily distinguishable in flavour and texture.  Confident in the brioche as a suitable method of transferring katsu from my table to my gob, we tried the Chicken Katsu Curry Sandwich (£6.5), which handled the job similarly well, despite having a good dollop of katsu curry sauce to contend with as well.  

The only non-katsu item on the menu was the Glazed Sweet Potato Chips Mix (£3.5) which was a portion of sweet potato fries and regular fries, with what I think i identified as a soy sauce/brown sugar glaze, and topped with sesame seeds and spring onions.  The sweet potato chips were as ever, a pretty flimsy affair, but the regular fries were firm and crispy, and the glaze had a deeply satisfying, molasses-esque flavour to it.

Next up was Manjit’s Kitchen, by now a veteran of Trinity Kitchen having been invited back several times to serve up authentic, vegetarian Indian food.  Manjit’s is also the most frequently-photographed van on my Instagram feed, which is quite the accolade when you consider most of the people I follow are trendy food-snobs.  If I wasn’t cart-hopping then I could happily have ordered everything from the menu and had a small banquet, but I settled on the dish that I’d seen the most praise lavished upon; the Chilli Paneer Wrap (£6).  The wrap itself was compact but absolutely overflowing with fillings and flavours; the coriander and turmeric made it taste fragrant and robust, while the heat from the chilli gave it a kick, but wasn’t overpowering in the grand scheme of things.  Inside the roti – aside from the generous chunks of Paneer which I believe were cooked in a tandoor oven – was an indeterminable mix of pulses and lentils which made this a really substantial, satisfying eat.  Before we’d even finished the wrap, we were arranging how soon we could return Manjit’s and try the rest of the menu.

I’ve saved greasy-spoon-turned-burger-joint Original Fry Up Material until last to give me more chance to think of other puns on The Streets songs to pepper the paragraph with, but at the time of writing I’ve come up with absolutely nothing.  The OFM guys have come up the M1 to give Leeds a much needed taste of the dirty-burger war going on down in London.  Cooked right in front of you, the burgers start life as a sphere of meat and fat, pressed onto the griddle until just under an inch thick and medium rare, then served on a shiny glazed brioche.  We ate the Bacon Blue Burger (£7.5) which as you can probably imagine contained bacon and blue cheese, as well as the usual bed of shredded lettuce, cheese, and burger sauce.  The bacon was thick cut and well-cooked without being brittle, and the blue cheese was subtle; comparable to a sauce you’d get as an accompaniment to hot wings rather than the usual slab of unmelted roquefort that usually lies dormant in a blue-cheese burger.  

A lot of restaurants ignore the fundamentals of burgers – a good quality patty and an understanding of the mechanics of burger construction – and place misguided emphasis on gimmicks and unnecessary extras which make the actual burger element a distant memory until you uncover it in the inevitable knife and fork post-mortem because you can’t fit it in your mouth.  The fact that extras take a backseat in the mix of flavours here shows that OFM has a lot of confidence in their product, and so they should.  This is as good a burger as you’re likely to get in Leeds, don’t miss it!  Oh yeah, and Try the Fries, Mate.

Yu Kyu, Manjit’s Kitchen and Original Fry Up Material will be at Trinity Kitchen until February 23rd.  Which food vans would you like to see take up residence there in the future?