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Udon with Braised Sweet and Spicy Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs are rich, and they make for great winter dishes. Here the short ribs are braised in a caramel sauce spiced with chilies, star anise, and five-spice powder until fork-tender. Green beans are added to the stew and cooked until just tender. The succulent meat and green beans are served over the noodles with some of the braising liquids. If you like, serve Japanese pickled ginger on the side for a delicious counterpoint to the sweet and spicy flavor notes.
The longer it rests, the tastier this dish will be, so braise the ribs the day before you plan to serve them, if possible. I tend to serve less noodles than normal with this hearty dish. The pork butt (shoulder) makes for an equally delicious variation.
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
4 12-ounce bottles amber ale
3/4 cup thin soy sauce
3 ounces ginger, thinly sliced
6 dried whole red chilies or fresh red Thai chilies
8 scallions, trimmed and lightly crushed
1 garlic head, cloves peeled and lightly crushed
6 whole star anise
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
4 pounds beef short ribs, or 4 pounds pork butt, cut into large chunks
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 pound fresh or 8 to 10 ounces dried udon, or 12 ounces fresh Chinese wheat noodles
In a large pot, heat the sugar and vinegar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and turns into a rich golden color, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the ale and soy sauce and stir to melt the hardened caramel. Add the ginger, chilies, scallions, garlic, star anise, and five-spice powder and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the meat, and simmer partially covered, until the meat is fork-tender or falls off the bones about 4 hours for short ribs and 2 hours for pork butt.
Before you're ready to serve, scatter the green beans on top of the meat and cook, covered, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a medium to large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until tender yet firm, about 5 minutes for dried udon, 10 seconds for fresh udon, or 2 minutes for fresh Chinese wheat noodles. Drain. To serve, divide the noodles among individual shallow bowls, and top with the tender braised beef or pork, green beans, and juices.
Somen Noodles with Shrimp Curry and Peas
Thin wheat noodles, such as Japanese somen, are perfect for light dishes such as this. The bright green color of the peast is complemented by the yellow turmeric-based curry marinade in which the shrimp are cooked The pungeng flavors of garlic and lemon zest offer a subtle, bitter counterpoint to the sweet and tangy character of the dish.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 ounce ginger, finely grated
Juice and grated zest of 2 lemons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces dried somen
24 small headless tiger shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise, and deveined
1 cup fresh shelled or frozen green peas, or 1 1/2 cups edamame (thawed if frozen)
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
In a medium bowl combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the garlic, ginger, curry powder, lemon juice and zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the shrimp, toss, and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the somen until tender yet firm, about 2 minutes. Shock in ice-cold water. Drain and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In a large skillet over high heat, add the remaning 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the shrimp with the marinade for about 1 minute. Add the peas or edamame and toss for 1 minute more. Add the shrimp and peas with their sauce to the noodles. Mix well and divide among large individual bowls or plates. Serve garnished with scallions.
Wonton Strips with Spicy Crab and Bacon Stir-Fry
Square dumpling wrappers are not just for making dumplings. They can also be cut into short, 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips and cooked with delicious results. This spicy crab-and-bacon stir-fry combination was given to me by an Indonesian friend living in New England. Indonesians love hot, spicy foods, and this dish is no exception. Feel free to add the fresh chilies to your taste. I do not use oil for this stir-fry. The bacon usually has enough fat for stir-frying the other ingredients.
1 pound fresh square dumpling wrappers, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-wide strips or 1 pound fresh broad rice noodles
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces sliced bacon
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large shallot, minced
2 scallions, trimmed and minced
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed to 8 to 10 inches and grated (see page 23)
3 to 4 red Thai chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced
12 to 16 ounces lump crabmeat
1 cup fresh shelled green peas, or frozen peas, thawed
Freshly gound black pepper
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the dumpling-wrapper noodles until tender yet firm, about 1 minute. Drain, toss with the oil, and divide among individual soup bowls or plates.
In a wok or large skillet over high heat, stir-fry the bacon until it renders its fat and is crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, shallot, scallions, lemongrass, and chilies, and continue to stir-fry until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the crabmeat and peas and toss well. Season with the fish sauce and pepper to taste and divide among the servings of noodles. Serve hot.