Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

The summer is beginning to ramp up, which means we are fully booked from now until mid-July. Weddings, bachelorette parties, friends visiting, family visiting, conferences – our weekends are busy. Beyond that, we are trying really hard to not plan anything for the rest of the summer. It’s tough. I already have light suggestions in my calendar for what we might want to do, but for our first summer in New York, I want to maintain some semblance of flexibility to explore the city in which we live.

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Eric and I have started building up a bit of a routine to our explorations as well. Saturdays usually include a one-way long run – 8-10 miles to a destination that most often includes food and beer. With the weather having been so lovely lately, these one-way runs often turn into all-day patio-hopping endeavors. It’s fun. Sundays we switch it up with a bike ride to some of the farther-flung places: breweries, parks, other boroughs. We’ve found some good biking routes around the city and we certainly get our hill work in with the number of bridges we must cross on our rides.

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So this soup – it’s tasty. Spicy. Perfect for a hot day. You can use a chicken egg instead of a quail egg, though quail eggs are cuter. And you can skip the ramps if they’re no longer in season. Or add other greens if you want to amp up the health factor. Compared to most hot soups, you don’t want a fatty broth here – the fat will congeal when you chill the broth, making it rather unappetizing – so if you’re making your own, remember to skim the fat before you use it. The tofu fries add a nice crunch and texture and frankly just taste good. Slurp these up before a big bike-riding, patio-hopping, beer-drinking day.

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Chilled Kimchi Soup with Ramps and Quail Egg

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, grated, or crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 cups chicken stock
1 heaping teaspoon gochujang
1/2 cup kimchi
4 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 bunch ramps, roughly chopped
2 cups ice water

2 servings fresh Chinese or Korean noodles
4 oz extra firm tofu, cut into strips
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil

green onion, shredded, to garnish
quail eggs, one per serving, to garnish
red chile, thinly sliced

To make the broth, start by sautéing the garlic and ginger in oil over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes, until very fragrant. Add the chicken stock and gochujang and allow to come to a boil, whisking to incorporate the gochujang. Turn off heat and add the kimchi with plenty of its juices and rice vinegar. Make sure the ice water is ready, then add the ramps, stir so they are all submerged, then immediately add the ice water. Taste for seasoning – add salt if necessary. Put the pot in the refrigerator or the freezer if you want it to chill faster.

Make your noodles according to package directions until al dente. In a frying pan, fry to tofu strips in oil over medium-high heat until crispy on the outside. You might need to do this in batches.

For soft boiled quail eggs, bring a pot of water to boil, drop the eggs in and set the timer for two minutes. After two minutes, remove from hot water and submerge them in ice water.

To assemble, layer the the noodles, tofu, green onions, quail eggs (peeled and cut in half), and red chile in a deep bowl. Pour the chilled broth with kimchi and ramps over the top. Slurp to enjoy.

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Green Curry Noodles

I have lived in Chicago for seven years now. That is an insane number to me, but I guess the old adage is true – time flies when you’re having fun. Still, I can’t believe I have lived here that long and only within the last couple years have I discovered how easy it is to get to the Korean grocery store and find all kinds of pan-Asian goodies. It has almost become part of my weekly shopping ritual.

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That said, if the Korean or other Asian grocery store is not part of your weekly shopping ritual, you can still make this dish. Admittedly, though, it just won’t be as good. It just can’t be! But if you want to go the extra mile, you can order a lot of ingredients online, and trust me when I say it is worth it. I tried making a version of this that included only easily obtained ingredients, and it just wasn’t the same. Still good, but when tasted side-by-side with the more authentic version, I had to admit that one definitely had more flavor and depth than the other.

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This noodle dish runs somewhere between a soup and noodle-with-sauce thing. You’ll have a bit of coconut-y juice at the bottom of your bowl, but there really isn’t enough broth to fill your bowl to the brim. The vegetables here are all optional and you can sub in whatever you think would taste good. I had spring onions from the farmer’s market, so those definitely made it in. I cooked all the vegetables separately, which may seem time consuming, but I like doing it that way so the flavors don’t get muddled. The end result tastes very fresh and healthful.

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Green Curry Noodles

*The curry paste recipe here is just enough for this dish, but feel free to double or triple the recipe to have a supply of curry paste. It freezes well.

*I included my notes for substitutions in parentheses, but do try to find the real stuff.

2-inch piece of galangal (or 1-inch piece of ginger)
6-inch piece of lemongrass

2 cloves garlic
kaffir lime leaves (or zest of one lime)
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp coconut oil

1 13.5-oz coconut milk (try to find one without any preservatives or additives)
13.5 oz water

6 oz somen noodles (soba would be great here as well) 
6 oz extra firm tofu, cut into thin strips
1 small sweet potato, cut into wedges or 1/2-inch strips
1 chinese eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch circles and halved
1 cup mushrooms of your choosing, sliced
3 stalks spring onions, halved
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half

cilantro, for garnish
fresh red chile slices, for garnish

To make the curry paste, chop each of the ingredients into small pieces. In a mortar and pestle, grind the ingredients together – start with one, then once it’s mashed nicely, add another, and so on. Add a bit of kosher or other flaky salt with each ingredient to help macerate each one. At the end, you should have a nice paste, but if you’re having a hard time getting it to that consistency in the m&p, you can use a blender or food processor.

In a large pot, scoop a big heaping tablespoon of the coconut cream that gathers on one end of the can into a pan. Stir it around and let it sizzle. Add the curry paste and let cook for a couple minutes. Add the rest of the coconut milk and cream and water. Also add the tofu. Turn heat to medium low and let it slowly warm.

Meanwhile, cook your veggies and noodles (according to package directions). Here’s how I did my veg, but feel free to use your favorite method:
Sweet potatoes: steamed
Eggplant: grilled (on a grill pan)
Mushrooms: pan-fried
Spring onions: grilled (on a grill pan)

When everything is ready to go, add it all to the pot with the coconut curry. Toss the tomatoes in at this point as well. Taste for seasoning (add salt if it tastes bland or just off). Garnish with cilantro and red chiles.

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 3: Miso Soba Noodles

Day 3! (days 1 and 2) Here we goooo. Soba noodles. Miso. Vegetables.

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Miso Soba Noodles with Mixed Vegetables

1 9.5-oz package soba noodles
2 heaping teaspoons mellow brown rice miso or white miso
4 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons water
mixed vegetables

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles for 3 minutes. Strain the noodles and rinse under cold water to remove all the starch.

In a large bowl, whisk together the miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Add the noodles and a few scoops of the mixed vegetables and toss it all together.