Gummy macaroni and congealed baked beans?
Of course not! Instead, I’m craving this little gem right here:
With the exception of the cafeteria’s seaweed salad, this noodle dish was the only cafeteria food that I LOVED while I was in China (I eventually had to discontinue consumption of the seaweed salad, as it gave me a rumbly in my tumbly – and not because I was hungry). I often tried to
fight my way to the front of the cafeteria line stand close to the cook so that I could watch his deft hands grab the huge chunk of stiff dough and, with a knife at least twice as long as would be allowed in a U.S. cafeteria, shaving long noodles into a huge vat of boiling water below. No guards for his hands nor protection again splatters of boiling water. A dangerous meal, indeed. I wish I had taken a picture or video for you guys, but …
So! Since I arrived home a few weeks ago, I’ve been determined to make this shaved noodle dish. First, a stop at A Dong for some essential supplies.
Including these funky items that took me forever to find:
That would be dried black fungus, a delicious addition to many Chinese dishes. What? You don’t believe me? When have I ever steered you wrong? Okay, there was the Cookie Disaster of Feb 2010, but I was a younger person then! Besides, look what happens when you put the dried black fungus in water:
Let’s back up to the part where I make the noodle dough. I used this recipe, skipping the step where I toss the noodles in peanut oil. Who needs oil when I have delectable toppings?
At first I was confused when the directions said to mix the flour and water until the dough is “shaggy”.
Ah. Let’s let the dough rest for several hours.
And then, the attempted noodle-shaving. I won’t sport with your patience by posting pictures of my pathetic attempts to whip a knife through that dough. Suffice to say that it didn’t work (the chunks of dough I splatted all over the kitchen agree with me). I also didn’t take any pictures. Instead, I commenced rolling and cutting.
While the noodles boiled, I prepared the toppings. In Beijing, I always chose two toppings: scrambled eggs and tomato (a very common dish in Beijing) and some sort of pungent dark sauce with black fungus and mushrooms. I didn’t know what the dark sauce was … until today. Behold, soybean paste:
On a whim, I bought this paste at A Dong. Mixed with a little water, this sauce was a dead ringer for the sauce I had in Beijing. Go me.
Noodles together with the two toppings:
These noodles were delicious! With some Urfa red pepper flakes sprinkled on top, this dish brought me back to the hot, loud, and pungent atmosphere that was the University’s cafeteria. The noodles were perfectly chewy.
I also discovered a slightly sweetened jasmine tea that I chugged by the bottleful in China, right here in A Dong! Oh A Dong, how I adore thee!
I wanted to turn this bottled tea into bubble tea, so I bought dry tapioca balls from A Dong, but when I tried to rehydrate the bubbles …
Oh, well. Tea with milk, then!
Finally, after LeQuan showed off some figgy art, I knew I had to jump on THAT wagon.
… aaaand, that is the limited extent of my creativity :D
Q: Have you ever tried to recreate a dish you ate in a restaurant or cafeteria? How did it turn out?
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Hi everyone! I LOVE being home! I had a great time exploring Beijing and Hong Kong over the past six weeks, but there’s nothing like Western-style toilets and home-cooked food (yes, I mentioned them both in the same sentence).
Oh, yes. And Peter.
(Screenshot from one of our countless inter-continental Skype sessions.)
I had a fantastic time in Hong Kong! I’m planning on devoting a few posts to my time in HK, but not yet. For now, I want to relish in the feeling of being home :) I’m so excited that I’m able to access all of your blogs again! No banning here in the U.S.!
In the meantime, remember this picture I took before I left for China, and how I was going to fit everything into that leetle teeny roller bag on the way back?
Yeah, well …
Not so much. Hey, I was bringing back lots of gifts, okay??
My checked roller bag didn’t make it the last leg of my three-part return flight extravaganza, so the airline delivered it to our apartment the next day. This is what I found outside our apartment when we returned from a grocery shopping trip.
Good thing the bag was cheap.
Speak of grocery shopping, I was eager to get myself into the kitchen again. After recovering from a mild bug and partially recovering from jet lag (I’m writing this entry around 4:30 am), I decided to throw together an old favorite for yesterday’s dinner. I can’t take credit for this delicious dish – all the credit goes to Almanzo Wilder‘s mother in the Laura Ingalls Wilder novel Farmer Boy.
Almanzo’s Apples ‘n’ Onions
4 large onions
4 large apples, any kind (although firmer apples are best, like Gala or Granny Smith. I used Golden Delicious here.)
1 Tbsp veggie oil
Chop your apples into rough bite-sized cubes. Cut onions in half, then slice. No need to make them pretty!
If you are including sausage (because you crave it from being in China for 5.5 weeks … or whatever), saute in large frying pan over medium-low heat until cooked through. You can also cook chicken or tofu or some other protein. Once your protein is cooked, push it off to the side, add veggie oil and saute apples and onions until soft but still with a “bite“. If you like your apples and onions mushy (I won’t judge you), then cook for a looooong time.
Oh, induction burner, how I have missed thee.
Finish with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve immediately. You can drizzle a little honey on top if you like your dishes sweeter, but I find the slightly-caramelized onions to be just the right amount of sweetness for me.
Due to the wicked hot weather we are experiencing in the Northeast US right now, I was craving something cool, with a kick. I decided to try replicating this exquisite mojito my classmates and I ordered every time we went to Cafe Sambal, a great Malaysian restaurant in one of Beijing’s hutongs.
Drinking one of those mojitos on a hot day in Beijing was like drinking a class of pure ice water (of course, that could be due to the fact that it was pretty much all ice water and lime juice). To replicate the experience, I decided to try this recipe, leaving out the club soda. We have two types of rum in our plastic bin of liquor (yes, you read that right): a coconut rum and a light rum. I decided to try them both … what? What’s wrong with that? :D
First step was squeezing my limes *pause for effect* I’ve found the best way to help limes release the juice is to roll them on the counter for a minute. Microwaving them for 10-15 seconds also helps.
This coconut rum is so good, you could sample it straight up. In THEORY, folks. Geez.
All together in the cocktail shaker:
Light rum (with raspberries for a little color):
Don’t worry, I didn’t drink them both. I sampled each and decided the coconut rum version possessed a tropical flair that the light rum couldn’t match. The coconut rum was mine and the rest went to the dogs.
Just kidding! I would never do that to little Maddles. I was just looking for an excuse to insert an adorable puppa picture.
It sure is nice to be home again :)
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you return home after a long time away?
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