A meta-recipe

I moved flat in December.

Shortly after I moved, an oriental supermarket opened up not a minute’s walk from my front door (it literally takes me longer to get out of my building than it takes for me to get the supermarket from there). This fills me with joy.

As a result my closest source of food to home contains fairly exotic Asian ingredients (or at least exotic to white boy here. I imagine it’s the Chinese equivalent of Tesco). Naturally this has influenced my cooking quite significantly.

The problem with this of course being that I have only the roughest idea of how to cook most Asian cuisine. I’ve had a go in the past at a few standard recipes, but I’ve never really been very recipe oriented anyway.

Fortunately, I’ve eaten a lot of Asian food of various types, and am always extremely happy to improvise! The result is a lot of food that is, shall we say, Asian inspired…

Here’s a meta recipe I’ve been cooking a lot recently. It’s basically soup. It works pretty well.

The primary starting point is you take hot water, put it on to boil, and add rice vinegar (I’ve been using sushi vinegar recently, but I’ve used brown rice vinegar in the past and both work well) and about a teaspoon of Japanese red pepper (this is really nice. It has a lot of flavour and just a little bit of heat, so you can use lots of it to get a really nice flavour without it getting too hot). Towards the end of the cooking process I also add a large dollop of miso (I’m currently using red miso). I’ve vaguely gathered the impression that you’re not supposed to boil miso because it kills stuff in it, which is why I add it towards the end once I’ve reduced the heat.

So to recap, we’re basically making a broth that is rice vinegar, red pepper and miso. Mmm.

Other things that are very tasty to add to this broth include sesame (either whole seeds or oil) and peanut butter.

No, really. Peanut butter. Don’t knock it. It’s an amazing addition.

To this broth we then add… stuff. Pretty much whatever is available. That’s why it’s a meta-recipe.

Things I have successfully added:

  • Noodles
  • Glutinous rice (this makes it less of a soup and more of a rice dish, also increases the cooking time by lots. I’m tempted to premake a whole bunch of glutinous rice just so I can add bits of it instead of cooking it each time)
  • Frozen vegetable gyoza (don’t judge. These are amazing)
  • Eggs (especially salted duck eggs)
  • Tofu
  • Frozen soy beans
  • Frozen peas
  • Bean sprouts
  • Any other vegetables to hand
  • etc.

It’s not complicated. You’re basically making a big bowl of tasty soup and adding anything you have to hand.

So, yeah, basically this is a post saying “HEY GUYS HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS THING CALLED SOUP IT’S PRETTY AMAZING?”

But specifically you should try out the incredibly simple broth “recipe”, because it works really well (don’t forget to try adding peanut butter. Unless you’re allergic, in which case you probably shouldn’t), and you should also try out salted duck eggs, because they’re really nice.

And don’t forget about the frozen gyoza. Mmm. Gyoza.

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2 thoughts on “A meta-recipe

  1. Mauricio Bluitt

    Asian food is every bit as diverse as it is delicious. I used to think that I knew Asian foods growing up. You see, we used to go out to Chinese and practically every weekend. They were a couple Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood, and they were perfect for us kids. They were greasy, flavorful, and we got a cookie at the end of every meal. What more could a child ask for?’

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