Mapa dubu noodles


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Mapa dubu is a korean take on the famous chinese dish mapo tofu. It uses staples from a korean cupboard — doenjang (fermented bean paste like miso), gochujang (sweet tangy chili paste), gochugaru (chili flakes) — instead of szechuan peppercorns, fermented black beans and doubanjiang (chili bean paste). It’s also just a teensy bit easier to put together, I think, than mapo tofu and just as tasty, but in a totally yummy korean way. If you’ve never had it before, this will taste spicy, tangy, rich and just a little sweet.

Don’t worry boys and girls–My veganized version of chinese mapo tofu is coming soon!

So I planned on making some mapa dubu today. I love love love spicy food. But once I got started I wasn’t feeling the rice making. Sure it’s easy to make rice but I don’t know, I just wasn’t in the mood for rinsing, rinsing, rinsing–SNORE–today… I thought I would try it with some ramen.

You can do this two ways: With a lot of broth to make a ramen soup dish, or with hardly any broth to make a drier noodle dish. I opted for the soup, but simply leave out most of the vegetable stock to make straight up noodle dish.

Makes 2 large bowls of ramen
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon gochugaru, 고추가루, Korean red chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons light soy sauce (I recommend Korean SHIN style for soups)
1 tablespoon doenjang, 된장, Korean fermented soybean paste
1/2 tablespoon gochujang, 고추장, Korean red chili pepper paste
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1-2 cups mushrooms, chopped
1/2 white onion chopped
1/2 red pepper, green pepper, carrot chopped (optional)
2-3 green onions sliced for garnish
1 package soft tofu
2 portions dried ramen noodles (or noodles of your choice)
1 1/2 to 2 cups vegetable broth

1) Heat up 2 tbs vegetable or light sesame oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. (I like to mix the two). Add in the white onion, mushroom, garlic, ginger, and other vegetables if using. Add a turn or two of salt and stir fry on medium to medium low heat till cooked down.
2) Gently strain the block of soft tofu and then gently cut it into square pieces. One of the tricks with mapo tofu is keeping the soft tofu in nice square pieces without it crumbling. I have read that you can fill a bowl with salted warm water and soak the tofu for a minute and this helps it stay together. When cut, set the tofu aside and go back to the sauce.
3) Add in the gochugaru, gochujang and doenjang and stir fry another minute. Then add the vegetable broth, sugar, soy sauce and corn starch. Cook on medium to medium low heat for about 5 minutes.
4) Carefully add in the soft tofu pieces. Stir gently to combine and cook in the soup so that the fragile tofu doesn’t break apart too much.
5) Par boil the ramen noodles in a bit of salted water and then finish cooking in the mapa dubu broth with the tofu.
6) Portion into two bowls (or more if you want smaller portions) and top with green onion or scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil.



Bánh xèo – Vietnamese crepes


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banh xeo with mushrooms

banh xeo with mushrooms

with tofu

with tofu




Why yes, now that you ask, I AM obsessed with vietnamese food. Especially these babies. I probably make bánh xèo at least once a week. Crispy pancakes that taste of creamy coconut and turmeric, wrapped up with fresh herbs and vegetables and dipped in a savory spicy sauce. YUM!

Traditionally, these are made with shrimp and pork, which I do not eat. I use tofu, mushrooms or sliced vegetable sausage instead. Other important things that you should not forgo are mint, cucumber, and bean sprouts. But the other fillings are flexible.

Makes about five crepes/bánh xèo
1 cup Bánh xèo flour (or rice flour mixed with a tsp of corn starch) from asian market
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (or more if batter is too thick. the batter should be thin like crepe batter) or coconut cream but this is thicker than coconut milk so add a little water
a splash of light beer or lager (really helps with the crispiness)
a light vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, sliced finely
mushrooms, vegetable sausage or tofu, sliced

For the filling:
bean sprouts
sliced cucumber
fresh herbs like mint, basil, cilantro
sliced carrot (optional)
large lettuce leaves like romaine, green leaf or mustard greens to wrap up everything, (optional)

For the vegetarian sauce (traditionally fish sauce, not soy sauce is used):
3 tbs soy sauce (or vegetarian fish sauce)
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced onion, carrot and cilantro
slivers of fresh chili for spiciness
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbs of water (if needed)

To make:

1) Prepare all the vegetables and the dipping sauce first. Then you can fry each crepe and eat it hot as it comes out of the frying pan.
2) Make the batter by whisking the banh xeo flour with turmeric, pinch of salt, coconut milk and splash of beer–about 1/4 cup–until smooth.
3) Heat up a good dollop of oil in a small to medium non-stick frying pan. Banh xeo is named after the sizzling sound the batter makes when it hits the frying pan so you want enough oil to hear it sizzle!
4) Add a few pieces of thin sliced onion and a few of the mushroom or tofu slices. Fry on medium-high heat until starting to cook, then ladle in the batter. How much will depend on the size of your frying pan/crepe. I use a small ceramic frying pan to make fairly small crepes. The trick is the same as normal crepes–ladle in the batter, and then swirl around so that the batter coats the pan evenly. You may need to practice this a few times to get it right.
5) Cover the crepe with a lid to cook the top of it. Keep the heat on medium high to crisp up the edges of the crepe and make the bottom nice and golden brown.
6) When done cooking –only a minute or two–fill half with fresh bean sprouts and then fold over. One crepe is done! Now add more oil and cook the next.
7) To eat: either stuff the crepes with cucumber and herbs and eat with knife and fork (and the dipping sauce!). Or cut in half and use a large lettuce leaf as a wrapper to eat the crepe halves with the fresh herbs and dipping sauce.

Here is one youtube video about cooking and eating banh xeo.
And here is another youtube video to help.
I recommend watching both to get a good idea of this recipe.