Maybe it’s because it’s Lent and the Catholic of no-meat season has been somewhat drilled into me, or maybe it’s because of my drastic diet change that began by eliminating meat for last year’s Lent, but we seem to be gravitating towards seafood these days. Honestly that’s fine with me because I tend to be a seafood lover more than a meat lover anyway.
This dish is somewhat of a home food dish. Lately, for no reason whatsoever, I’ve kind of developed a hankering for foods that my mom would make when I was younger and staying at their house. Of course now I modify the recipe to my tastes, but truth be told, there was never really a “recipe”, more like a “dish” that I really wanted to make and eat. Last week’s dish was fish noodle soup. It’s not really a seafood pho, but it’s not really a standard chinese dish either. It’s a “home food dish”, something that only your mom would concoct together simply because it feeds the family, and it tastes good.
This takes a little bit of prep work actually because like with many asian dishes, the components are all prepared individually and then just combined to form the dish (sauces excluded, you have to mix those). Basically it’s combining fried fish fillets with thin rice noodles, some vegetable garnish, and ladled to the brim with some sort of soup stock. Anyways, here is the R/g version (which, may sometimes change):
- fish fillets, cut about 3″-4″ long and about 1″-2″ wide
- cornstarch or potato starch
- pickled preserved mustard greens, thinly sliced
- half onion, thinly sliced
- bonito flakes (1 packet)
- finely chopped cilantro as garnish
- pho noodles (found in the refrigerated section at Asian “marts”)
- ponzu sauce / mirin / soy sauce / Wei-chuan dumpling sauce
Fill a pain with oil about 1/4 inch high or just enough to cover half the thickness of a piece of fillet. Take the pieces of fillet and dry with a paper towel Roll lightly in cornstarch or potato starch. Fry all pieces of fish and place on paper towel to drain the oil. Set aside.
In a pot of water, I would say maybe 5 cups (I never measure because I normally know how much soup I want to drink or want to have left over for porridge the next day), put in one packet of bonito flakes. (If you are making this dish for more than 1 person, you may have to double the amount of water and then use two packets of bonito flakes). Bring to a boil then turn down to low.
Take the package of pickled mustard greens and thinly slice the entire serving. Divide into half. Take one half and put it in the pot of soup stock, and continue to let it simmer.
In a separate pan (or you can drain out the old frying old and use the same nonstick pan), put about 3 tbsp of oil (I use olive oil) to fry and caramelize the onions. When the onions are almost browned completely, add in the rest of the pickled mustard. Sprinkle lightly with salt and sugar, one pinch each. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a separate pot, bring water to a boil. Take as much noodle as you want to go with the soup (guesstimate). If the amount of soup base you have will fill up one large udon bowl, take out as much noodle that you want for that serving in the large udon bowl. Place in the boiling pot of water for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fully cooked through (test by taking out one strand and biting through it). Drain and place in serving bowl.
In the soup pot, add 1 teaspoon of ponzu, 1 teaspoon of mirin, and 1-2 tablespoons of soysauce. Then add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar or honey. Then taste: if you want it more salty, add a little more soy sauce. If you prefer it a bit more citrus-like, add a little more ponzu. Balance these additions with a little bit (probably a pinch) of sugar.
Garnish the noodle by putting as many pieces of fillet and caramelized onion as you want. I like to add cracked pepper on top or even white powdered pepper for some extra spice. I also like the flavor of cilantro very much, but I realize that this is fairly strong for some people so you can leave this out if you absolutely hate the vegetable to death. Ladle in as much soup as you desire or that you want to serve.
WHEW! That was a lot of work. Anyways, for those of you who are a bit more apt with cooking skills, this shouldn’t be too hard. The most important part to me is taste taste taste. If you taste midway, you can kind of catch yourself before anything goes wrong. This is not the case with baking which is why I take it as my nemesis, especially bread! I hope you enjoy this recipe, especially on a cold and dreary day!