Saturday, February 12, 2011

Compare and contrast

After an interesting* lunch today at Buddha Bodai in Chinatown, Andy and I stopped by a Chinese market to pick up a few things. This included enoki, baby bok choy, and firm tofu**, with which I made a highly untraditional thenthuk (including homemade hand-pulled noodles, of course).

I was forced to use canned tomatoes (horrors!) and did not find cilantro, a traditional ingredient for the soup. Why not go hog-wild and add some turmeric and sriracha, and bok choy instead of spinach?

And then, shifting to a completely different part of the world, I made sour cream orange coffee cake. I had quite a lot of sour cream left over, as I mentioned, from last night's snickerdoodle bars, and while I have plans to make a dip from some of it for quenelles later in the week, there was no way I was going to use the rest up. Ditto for the oranges. I adapted this recipe by simply adding the zest from one orange and a bit of its juice to the batter, and by switching out the cinnamon for cloves with a touch of nutmeg (clove and orange being a more classic flavor combination than cinnamon and orange).

 It was great, as evidenced by the fact that Andy had three sizeable slices, and I kept picking bits of crust off those slices. Just use your favorite coffee cake recipe and add the orange and use nutmeg and cloves instead of cinnamon. But here, I'll throw you a bone and give you:

Hannah's Highly Altered Thentuk, based on the only recipe for thenthuk that appears to exist on the Internet

1. Slice a few cloves of garlic and a two-inch knob of ginger. Fry it and about half an onion in sesame oil at the bottom of a pot. Add five cups of water or broth, about a third of a cup of soy sauce, and a squirt of sriracha. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for half an hour to forty-five minutes.

2. Strain the garlic and ginger out (and don't worry about it if some of the onion comes out with it), then add a chopped tomato (or, if you're me, two chopped canned tomatoes) and simmer for fifteen more minutes. This is the point at which I added some turmeric and un-Tibetified the dish.

3. While the broth is undergoing its second simmer, make the noodle dough. Use 1.5 cups of bread or all-purpose flour (I prefer bread), a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and about half a cup warm water. Knead the dough for about fifteen minutes or until smooth. It should be stretchy and pliable and slightly sticky; adjust your flour and water to make this happen. Coat the dough and oil and let it rest for fifteen to twenty minutes.

4. Prepare your vegetables (spinach and cilantro and scallions are typical), and bring the broth to a boil. Elongate the dough into a slightly flattened cylinder. Working quickly, pull off flat, thumb-length bits of dough and throw them into the boiling water. They're done after about three minutes, or when they float to the top.

5. Toss in the vegetables and serve. If you want to use meat, very thinly slice beef or chicken and put it in with the vegetables; it should cook within 60 seconds. I used cubes of tofu, which basically just need to heat through.

*Usually when people use the word "interesting" in this sort of situation, it's because they can't actually think of something positive to say but don't want to say anything too negative, either. So don't get me wrong: Lunch was delicious, but above all, it was just plain interesting to eat vegetarian dim sum.
**The tofu cost me $1.25. Suck it, Whole Foods.

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