You do udon

I’m slowly getting back into the groove of things since being back from vacation. I imagined it would be quicker but exhaustion got the better of me as did the daily grind.

So I decided to start back up with the kind of weeknight dinner that takes little effort and barely follows a recipe. I went with udon noodles with chicken and broccoli, or the more vague “Asian noodles,” which was the not-the-most-culturally-sensitive Google search I did to get the vague idea of ingredients for a sauce.

Udon noodles ingredients.

That blog post, like my own, makes clear that this recipe can be adapted to anyone’s tastes. Don’t like broccoli? Try carrots or spinach or a combination of veggies. Want to add peppers? Go ahead. Don’t want chicken or are vegetarian? Skip it or add tofu.

The same is essentially true of the sauce. I went heavy on the sesame oil because I love it and I have it. I also added a bunch of ginger (from a jar because I was lazy) that wasn’t in the recipe; I just like a lot of ginger. I skipped out on the cilantro to save my sweetie, but I think it would have been pretty tasty as an addition.

That’s to say, you do udon.

To hurry things along, I cooked the udon separately while I prepared the chicken, vegetables, and sauce, but if you’re in no rush and want this to be a one-pot dish, you can cook the noodles in the Dutch oven and leave to drain while preparing the rest of the dish.

I still want more; it disappeared too fast.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. udon noodles, cooked to package directions
  • 1 lb. chicken, sliced or chopped
  • 3 c. broccoli (or about one grocery store package with 2 to 3 heads), chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts sliced
  • ⅓ to ½ c. soy sauce (less sodium is good)
  • ¼ c. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ½ T. ginger, minced (I used the jar stuff)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • Sambal oelek (chili paste), or Sriracha, to taste (I used about ½ T.)
  • 3 T. sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil, for sauteing

Directions

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat, and saute the chicken until mostly cooked through before adding the broccoli and green onions, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek or sriracha, and stir to combine.

Once the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are cooked to desired consistency, turn off stove top and add the sauce. Stir to combine and then add the cooked noodles, and continue stirring. Remove from heat and add the sesame seeds, stirring again. Taste and add more soy sauce or sesame oil as desired, and enjoy!

Cooking class in absentia

As I mull over what dishes I ate on my recent Portugal vacation — and there were so many and such good food — that I can make in my Dutch oven, I thought I’d share a recipe from an exotic vacation that I didn’t get to go on. So we can be in the same boat for this week.

The best part about not getting to go on an international trip with my family is that they’ll bring back and share the recipes from their cooking class.

So, when my mom got back from her eastern European vacation last year, I got a PDF of the Hungarian dinner they had one night. Perfect since I’ve always wanted to make chicken paprikash.

Chicken paprikash ingredients.

I’d say it was almost like being there … but obviously not. Still, it was great to be able to try authentic food without leaving the house (other than to get groceries). Mom even was kind enough to buy extra paprika and send me some, so I had plenty on hand for the paprikash and an extra side dish (the Hungarian salsa!) I decided to make.

The paprikash was a delight. It was a little too saucy for me, but the chicken was slightly spicy and extra creamy, as I expected and hoped, and the really ugly dumplings I made based on the recipe to go with the chicken turned out good if incredibly ugly.

All in all, it was a good substitute for being there and a chance to enjoy some authentic Hungarian food without a lot of effort or the airfare. Now, you can too.

So much paprika (and sour cream). So good.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For the paprikash

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 T. oil
  • 4 t. salt (I probably used less!)
  • 1 t. ground pepper (I probably used more!)
  • 5 t. paprika powder (I split the mixture between smoky and spicy, but you do you)
  • ~10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the recipe calls for 6 bone-in legs but I like boneless)
  • 12 oz. sour cream
  • 1 T. flour
  • Water

For the nokedli (dumplings)

(or use egg noodles or similar if feeling lazy)

  • ~1 c. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. Salt
  • Water, as necessary (if mixture is dry)

Directions

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the onions, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and add salt, pepper, and paprika. Add about ½ c. water to keep the powder from burning. Place mixture back on heat, add the chicken, and pour water on top until just covered. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through (can probably check earlier if using boneless — I think I did about 35 minutes). Meanwhile, mix the flour and sour cream together.

Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the sour cream mixture. Bring to a boil again.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by bringing a separate pot of water to a boil. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, flour, and salt, and adding water if necessary until a hard dough forms. Tear dough pieces and place in the boiling water, removing pieces as they float and are cooked through. Serve the chicken (and the sauce) with the nokedli, and enjoy!

Be a doll and make this dal ASAP

Some years ago, my sweetie got this delightful cookbook called “Flavors of India” that includes a ton of delicious, simple, and vegetarian Indian dishes. It was a household staple for years, particularly because it made healthy *and* cheap food that lasted for days.

Then, it got destroyed.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it wasn’t lost forever. My sweetie got another copy and we’ve continued to use that one (and keep it safe) for many more years now, and it’s still as much of a treasure.

Dal-dhokali ingredients.

One of my favorites — but one I hadn’t yet made myself — is dal-dhokali, or toor dal (lentils) with chick-pea flour dumplings. It’s also, dare I say, vegan, so it’s mostly healthy (there’s some oil in the dumplings) but still very flavorful.

It’s not necessarily a quick weeknight meal but it is a lot of passive time so put on a movie favorite or catch up on your podcasts while you make this simple dish.

It looks like sludge, it tastes like awesome.

Here’s what I did, following the recipe other than increasing the spice amounts:

Ingredients

For the dal

  • 1 c. toor dal (split pigeon peas), or any dried split pea or lentil if toor dal is hard to find in your area
  • 10 c. water (yes, it sounds like a lot, but it’s works)
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • 1 t. turmeric
  • 1 t. coriander powder
  • 1 t. cumin
  • ½ T. grated ginger
  • 1 T. tamarind concentrate, or if it’s hard to find in your area, the cookbook suggests using a tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar in its pace (which given its tart/sour flavor, it seems appropriate)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 T. black mustard seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 dried hot peppers, I used chile de arbol
  • Cooked rice, for serving

For the dumplings

  • ¼ c. chick pea flour (besan)
  • ¼ c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. oil, plus more for mixing
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 2 pinches cayenne
  • 5 to 7 t. water, more as needed to make dough

Directions

Wash and rinse the dal, rubbing it in your hands to remove the oily coating, while bringing the Dutch oven full of the 10 c. water to a boil with the salt.

Once the water is boiling, add the dal and return to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high, and cook the dal uncovered for 10 minutes. Then, reduce heat and cook, covered, for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix together the two flours with your hands; add the salt, cayenne, and vegetable oil. Crumble the mixture together in your hands. Add 5 t. of water and continue to mix with your hands or a fork until a dough begins to form, adding more water a teaspoon at a time as necessary. Imagine making a pie crust and get it to that consistency. Once ready, set aside.

After the 30 minutes has passed, add the spices, ginger, and tamarind (or substitute) to the dal mixture, and simmer another 10 minutes, uncovered, while you roll out the dumpling dough.

To ready the dough, use oil instead of flour to keep the mixture from sticking. Add a small amount to your hands and knead for a few minutes in your hands until smooth. Add small amounts of oil to the rolling surface and rolling pin, and begin to roll out the dough, again, like a pie crust. Roll until thin like a plate (how the cookbook describes it), about ¼ inch. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut into 1 inch squares.

Add the dough a few at a time, to ensure they do not stick together, and stir to separate.

Add the tomato, and continue to simmer while preparing the final spice addition.

In a small saucepan or frying pan, heat a tablespoon of oil, and add the mustard seeds, whole cloves, and hot pepper (broken into pieces). As the oil heats, the mustard seeds will pop. Once they stop popping, about 1 to 2 minutes later, remove from heat, and dump the contents (with the oil) to the Dutch oven.

Stir the dal mixture together a few more times, and then cover the Dutch oven once more, and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat, stirring about every 5 minutes so that the dumplings do not stick. Once the dumplings are softened, serve with rice, and enjoy!