by Sean Keeley, culinary specialist, LLCC
I am quite often asked if I watch this or that cooking show, or what are my favorites. Most often my answer is not what people are expecting. I am not really into shows that elevate the drama, but more about shows that provide information on technique and/or history. My new favorites are “Ugly Delicious” with Chef David Chang and “The Taco Chronicles,” both on Netflix. The latter is subtitled and you’d better be able to read quickly because they talk fast! Both shows cover the history of the featured cuisine, the evolution of what it has become today and the innovations taking us into the future. So for me it’s highly addictive television.
Another show I have been watching and learning from is on YouTube called “Best Ever Food Review Show” hosted by Sonny Side. I’m not sure if that’s his real name, but a very fitting name for a food show host. I like the show so much that I put the YouTube app on my TV at home so I can binge. The episodes are about 12 to 15 minutes with a few ads here and there, but a lot of information is presented in that short time. At first I didn’t think I would like a show hosted by a dude wearing a red bandana headband – I just couldn’t take him seriously at first. After the third episode I was a super fan.
Sonny is a very energetic host, and he’s from the Midwest, but lived in Vietnam for 10 years. His show has been all over Asia and now it is in the states. How he lost 80 pounds eating copious amounts of street food is beyond me, and I am sure there is an episode about how he did just that. When a show inspires you to investigate and create what you see then I think they’re on to something. I believe it was the episode where they were in Kolkata, home to India’s only Chinatown, that inspired me to recreate the dish on the show.
Here we go again with the ramen noodles, but you know me and my pasta. This recipe calls for dark soy sauce which can be purchased at an Asian food store, or use the recipe below. If you’re at the Asian market grab several packs of “Mama” brand ramen noodles – grocery store ramen works well too. Many of the ingredients can be substituted. Use rice noodles and tamari or liquid aminos (for soy sauce) if you want to be gluten free. Use pork, beef or veggies instead of chicken. I cook my noodles in water seasoned with the spice and oil packets provided, but you can use chicken or veggie broth.
Special equipment needed for this recipe: spice mill or grinder and a food processor.
Dark Soy Sauce
10 ounces regular soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 ounces water
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in the water to make a “slurry”
In a small sauce pot bring the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and slurry to a simmer over medium low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and sauce begins to thicken. Should be the consistency of maple syrup.
Indonesian Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, rough chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup coconut cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dark soy sauce, see recipe above
1/2 cup peanuts (no skins)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Place macadamia nuts in medium sauté pan and gently toast – keep a close eye as they can burn easily. Add to a food processor and let sit. While the pan is still hot, toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Add toasted seeds to spice mill with the crushed red pepper and grind for 10 to 15 seconds to make a spice blend.
In same hot skillet add oil, onion and shallot and sauté until translucent; it’s ok if they get a little brown. Add coconut cream, brown sugar, spice blend and dark soy sauce and continue to cook until sugar dissolves – remove from heat. Add the peanuts in with the macadamia nuts and mix until they are coarsely chopped. Using a rubber spatula, add the contents of the skillet to the food processor and mix in well with the chopped nuts. Should be fairly thick, but able to pour out of container – add a little water if needed for consistency and check for seasoning.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for a week. It is best at room temperature so be sure to let it sit out before use.
2 teaspoons oil (per person)
4 ounces (per person) thinly sliced chicken breast – or beef, pork, shrimp, veggies, firm tofu
salt and pepper to taste
1 package (per person) ramen, cooked in broth, drained and cooled slightly
for garnish: shredded carrot, bean sprouts, sliced scallions, cilantro or your favorite veggies
Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Season your chicken (or whatever you choose to stir-fry) with a little salt and pepper. Sauté until cooked through (just a couple minutes for veggies) and add noodles to pan and continue stirring until the noodles are hot again. Divide into bowls and drizzle generously with dark soy sauce and Indonesian peanut sauce. Garnish with your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Want to know more?
Lincoln Land Community College offers associate degree programs in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and academic credit certificates in Culinary Arts and Baking/Pastry. For more information call 217-786-4613 or visit www.llcc.edu/hospitality-culinary-arts.