The book - Why the Chinese Don’t Count Calories by Lorraine Clissold - has been on my reading list for a long time. After a commitment to actually make it through that list in 2012, I finally got myself a copy a few weeks ago.
I’m half way through and things are already changing in my kitchen.
I didn’t know what to expect from the title alone. I knew it was a book about Chinese food culture. I adore anything to do with food culture, and at the moment, Asia. I’ll post more details when I’ve finished the book, but every aspect of it so far has my senses on alert.
Not only is it well written, but within it is detailed information about Chinese principles and how they apply to food. Not only are there plenty of suggestions for Chinese cooking, but Clissold does a wonderful job of explaining how the reader can apply these principles when Chinese cuisine isn't on the menu.
After reading page after page about noodle dishes, simple broths, and the yin and yang, I decided to make up a simple dish for our dinner last night. I tend to load my food with herbs and spices, but remembering the principles conveyed in the book I made a broth using a homemade vegetable stock I’d frozen earlier this year.
I added only garlic, green onions, ginger, mushrooms, and salt to season it, and crumbled in a bit of chili flakes. Mine came from a cayenne pepper I had dried from last year’s garden. I served this warm over soba noodles, and with some steamed baby bok choy.
Yes, I could get used to eating like this, but the eating it has never been the issue. I just never seem to get out of my comfort zone and cook it. Simplicity in food is so appealing.
Soba Noodles and Mushrooms in a Ginger Garlic Broth
8 cups vegetable broth
8 cloves garlic, minced
¼ inch piece fresh ginger, grated
8 oz mushrooms, sliced thick
5 green onions, greens and whites sliced
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
¼ t dried chili flakes
4-6 baby bok choy, steamed until tender
10-12 oz pack soba noodles, cooked and drained
In a soup pot, heat the broth to a low boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Add the garlic and ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms, and simmer just until barely cooked, about 3 minutes more. Add the onions, salt and chili flakes. Allow to simmer while you prepare the serving bowls.
Divide the noodles into four deep bowls. Place one or more baby bok choy in each bowl. When ready to serve, ladle the hot broth over the noodles, about 2 cups per bowl. Serves 4.