David Chang's Ramlet

David Chang, the modern day prince of ramen, has yet again made a splash with his newest creation, the ramlet. Last week, Lucky Peach posted a video of Chef Chang making a classic rolled omelette seasoned with a not-so-classic packet of ramen powder. He proceeded to slice the omelette down the middle and fill it with soft scrambled eggs, also seasoned with a hefty dose of ramen powder. It was such a simple idea that I was pissed I didn’t think of it myself. 

All this time I was so focused on the noodles that I totally overlooked the potential of the sodium-dense-MSG-laden seasoning that brings it all together. Although I loved the idea, I wasn’t 100% sure I’d be as enamored with the final product. 

So I tore into the pack of Shin ramen I ALWAYS have in my pantry, and after a quick 10 minutes of cooking the verdict was in – delicious! Both my boyfriend and I were surprised at how much we loved it. The creamy scrambled eggs were a great textural contrast to the firmer omelette. As for the seasoning… well it just tasted like Shin ramen. But this is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  

I’ve eaten both omelettes and ramen about a bagillion times. But when the two were thrown together it got my synapses firing. Although my brain knew what it was going to taste like, it was still surprising to eat. It simultaneously tasted delicate and assertive, familiar and strange. From the ashes of ramen powder and egg rose the ramlet – a tasty mash-up of my two favorite foods.

In short, it was well worth the minimal effort to make, and I’ll certainly be testing new ramlet flavors in the near future. 

David Chang’s Ramlet

(NOTE: This is NOT David Chang’s official recipe, which can be found HERE. I altered the proportions according to my taste)

Ingredients:

  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  1 ½ teaspoons Shin ramen seasoning (this is less than one packet)
  • Chives for garnish

Instructions:

Whisk 3 eggs and ½ teaspoon ramen seasoning in a bowl. Over medium heat, melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter in a non-stick skillet (7-10 inches). Pour egg mixture into the skillet and stir constantly until small curds form (about 1-2 minutes). Let the omelette set around the edges (an additional 1-2 minutes) and gently roll the omelette onto a plate.

Whisk the remaining 2 eggs with 1 teaspoon of seasoning. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter. Add the eggs and stir constantly until the eggs are soft cooked.

Slice the omelette length-wise down the center and fill with the scrambled eggs. Garnish with chive.

California Hand Rolls

(Post sponsored by Veetee Rice, however all opinions are my own)

When making California rolls, I’ve learned not to fuss over details. I used to exhaust myself making mediocre sushi, but now I’m a hand-roll convert. These days, I simply set out bowls of rice, fillings, and nori - and dinner is served. 

No other food has captured the modern imagination like sushi, and no other dish is as polar. On one end of the spectrum, we believe “real” sushi should be crafted by a Japanese sushi-master, who wields a razor-sharp blade like a samurai. And on the opposite end, we happily buy cold, pre-made packages of mayo-laden rolls

Opinions abound about what constitutes authentic sushi, but at its core it’s just vinegar-seasoned rice with fish. Authenticity aside, I love sushi in all its forms: from deep-fried, cream cheese filled maki rolls to traditional nigri. And after making it at home, I have great respect for people who have mastered the art of sushi. 

Historically, my sushi-making attempts have ended with a sad plate of mangled pieces. They tasted fine, but the perfectionist in me couldn't help but be disappointed.

So when my cousin mentioned his wife’s amazing California rolls, I was impressed. But I was even more impressed when we had them for dinner one night. She served thin slices of avocado, cucumber, and crab then instructed us to build our own hand rolls. It was a simple but smart idea, and was a revelation to me. Not only could we customize our own pieces, but the rolls were really fun to eat.

Since that meal, sushi has gone from being a labor of love to being incorporated into my easy-dinner repertoire. 

What makes this meal even easier is microwavable rice. In two minutes you can have perfectly cooked rice ready to go. Then just 10 more minutes of prep, and you have everything you need for a fun California roll dinner. This may not be authentic sushi but it’s a great meal, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. 

California Hand Rolls

Ingredients: 

Note: This serves about 2-3 people. The amount of each ingredient should be adjusted according to your preferences.

  • 2 trays Veetee brown or white rice (about 4 cups)
  • 2 avocados cut into thin slices
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 3 inch long pieces
  • Imitation crab meat sticks cut into thin 3 inch long pieces (about ½ pack)
  • 10 sheets of nori cut into 2” X 3” rectangles
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • ¼  cup rice vinegar
  •  ¼  cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Soy sauce and wasabi for dipping (optional)

Instructions:

Make sushi seasoning – Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Remove from heat

Add about 4 teaspoons of vinegar seasoning to the cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate the leftover seasoning for the next time you make sushi. Slice avocado, cucumber, and crab meat. Cut nori into rectangles (2” X 3”).

To eat, scoop a little rice onto a piece of nori. Place a slice of cucumber, avocado, and crab over the rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Roll - Eat - and Repeat! 

Porky Surf and Turf: Grilled Pork Chops with Crawfish Gravy

Until I bought my first pound of Louisiana crawfish, my experience with the freshwater crustacean was limited to the Chinese-buffet steam table. Every time I walked by them at Super King, I added a couple to my plate of lomein and general tso’s - and every time I was disappointed. I would laboriously peel away the shell to find a measly, stringy piece of tail meat. Sure the flavor was good, but the tiny, overcooked morsel wasn’t worth the work.

But I didn’t write off crawfish completely. I wanted to like it since so many trusted friends sung its praises. I would watch Top Chef and see Padma and Tom Colicchio rip apart the small lobster-like bodies and enthusiastically suck the juice out of the head cavities. I knew with fresh crawfish and the right preparation, I too would be sucking on their dismembered heads with gusto. 

My ‘aha’ moment came a few months ago when I tried biscuits with crawfish gravy. I was at the food symposium, Fire, Flour, Fork, and David Guas from Bayou Bakery was demonstrating how to prepare crawfish gravy for a crowd participants. Samples were distributed and the gravy was a revelation. It was everything I wanted crawfish to be: sweet, tender, and meaty. It finally clicked. 

With a trip to my local fish market and a pound of shelled crawfish in hand, I set out to recreate the gravy at home. I was saving local Berkshire pork chops for a special meal, and I knew the naturally sweet crawfish would be killer on smoky grilled pork. I rounded out the meal with a big pot of buttery Woodson Mill grits (FYI - best grits I’ve ever had), which sopped up all the meaty juices and creamy gravy.    

I’ve now joined the ranks of crawfish lovers. The moral of this story is don’t give up on a food just because you had a bad experience (or two, or ten). There will always be that dish that demonstrates the ingredient’s potential and shows us how delicious it can be. For me and crawfish, it was this delicious gravy.  

Grilled Pork Chops with Crawfish Gravy 

(Serves 4)

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup carrot diced

  • ½ cup celery diced

  • ½ cup onion diced

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 4 tablespoons flour

  • 1 pound crawfish

  • 3 cups whole milk

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 4 Bone in Pork Chops

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add diced celery, onion, and carrot. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add crawfish and all juice from the package and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in 3 cups of milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until the gravy has thickened – about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more seasoning if necessary.

Liberally season the bone-in pork chops with salt and pepper and grill until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chop is 135 degrees. Click here for a great pork chop grilling tutorial. 

Serve pork chops over cooked grits, and top with crawfish gravy.

Sources:

Ramen Reviews: Myojo Ippei-chan Yakisoba Japanese Style Noodles

So long 2014, you were good to me. You gave me my first house, introduced me to new friends, and even provided the opportunity to work from home. You will be missed and remembered fondly. But 2015, that doesn't mean I'm not happy to see you, you with your endless possibilities and sense of adventure. I embrace you wholeheartedly and pledge to give you my all. 

I promise to expand my culinary horizons by eating my way through the unfamiliar reaches of the Vietnamese grocery store and by cooking with ingredients I’ve never heard of. I'll seek out the off-the-beaten path eatery and order the pickled pig's feet with abandon. 

So in short, my new year’s resolution is to try it all – because life’s too short to eat boring. 

So what does my long-winded declaration have to do with instant yakisoba? Everything. I’ve been making instant noodles for a solid 21 years now; in fact, it was the first food I ever made myself. And although ramen gets a bad rap, it's unapologetically my favorite comfort food and I always have a rainy day stash in the back of my pantry. 

That being said, my ramen repertoire is shamefully limited to a handful of brands. So I'll start the new year by trying some new noodles - Myojo Ippei–chan Yakisoba Japanese Style Noodles to be precise. 

My 1st new food of 2015 was a home run. These noodles were surprisingly delicious; the pasta had just the right amount of ramen chew and the brown sauce was deeply satisfying in that umami sort of way. 

As a quick primer, sukiyaki is a popular Japanese noodle dish that literally translates into ‘fried buckwheat noodles’. Sukiyaki is similar to Chinese lo mein and is usually stir fried with cabbage and pork and topped with seaweed powder (aonori), fish flakes (katsuobushi), and sweet mayonnaise.

Before I even tried the noodles, I was impressed with the thoughtful packaging. Once you peel back the tight plastic wrapping, you’re presented with a smartly designed lid with detailed and well-translated instructions.

There is not 1 but 4 seasoning packets (all essential I assure you): sweet worcestershire-based brown sauce, dried cabbage, seasoned seaweed ‘Spice’ sprinkles, and mustard-mayo. 

To prepare, you simply sprinkle the dried cabbage over the noodles, pour in boiling water, and steep for 3 minutes. When it’s time to drain, you pull back the orange tab on the corner of the lid and drain from the nifty built-in “colander” slits. Now for the fun part, mix in the brown sauce and “spice” packet, then top with mayo-mustard. Enjoy while vegging out to your favorite T.V. show (I highly recommend Anthony Bourdain’s Part’s Unknown, Season 3. SO GOOD!).

The Myojo yakisoba is a solid 8 out of 10. The noodles stay nicely al dente, since they’re not sitting in broth getting mushier by the minute. There's a distinct “Japanese” flavor that I attribute to the bonita (dried fish flakes) and garlic in the sauce. The mayo adds a welcome hint of creaminess and the seaweed spice acts like a finish salt, adding little bursts of flavor.

I wasn’t expecting much of this product, since how good could noodles in brown sauce really be? But this yakisoba rocked, and I'll certainly be incorporating them into my regular instant-noodle rotation. I would highly recommend giving them a try!

Last Minute Local-Foodie Gift Guide

I put together this mini Richmond gift guide for those, who like me, still have a few things to pick up. This year my gift-giving approach has been to buy local. These handcrafted products are made with a lot of love - and isn't that what the holidays are all about? Here’s a short list of (mostly) local products that are bound to please. 

804ork Cookbook ($45) - This stunning cookbook features 68 recipes from 24 of Richmond's most loved restaurants. The book is filled with gorgeous pictures and wonderful stories about the featured local chefs. You can purchase the book at these retailers.

804ork Cookbook ($45) - This stunning cookbook features 68 recipes from 24 of Richmond's most loved restaurants. The book is filled with gorgeous pictures and wonderful stories about the featured local chefs. You can purchase the book at these retailers.

Gearharts, Miso Caramels ($8) & Wildflower Honey Almond Caramels ($8) - I didn't even know I liked caramel so much until I tried these candies. Now I'm obsessed. Stop by their retail location or pick up a bag at Union Market.

Gearharts, Miso Caramels ($8) & Wildflower Honey Almond Caramels ($8) - I didn't even know I liked caramel so much until I tried these candies. Now I'm obsessed. Stop by their retail location or pick up a bag at Union Market.

Georgia Olive Farms, Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($25.95) - It's not from Richmond, VA but it's a Southern, premium olive oil from the east coast! It's peppery, super fresh, and makes a beautiful finishing oil! You can buy it at Southern Season or Little House Green Grocery.

Georgia Olive Farms, Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($25.95) - It's not from Richmond, VA but it's a Southern, premium olive oil from the east coast! It's peppery, super fresh, and makes a beautiful finishing oil! You can buy it at Southern Season or Little House Green Grocery.

Southern Season, Cheddar Cheese Straws ($12.95) - I was sold on this ultra-cheesy-super-addictive snack the moment I sampled it! I immediateIy bought a few tins as gifts... and a few for myself. Sold at Southern Season. 

Southern Season, Cheddar Cheese Straws ($12.95) - I was sold on this ultra-cheesy-super-addictive snack the moment I sampled it! I immediateIy bought a few tins as gifts... and a few for myself. Sold at Southern Season. 

Blue Bee Cider, Fanfare ($10.95) - This unique rosé cider is infused with wild mulberries. It's semi-sweet and balanced with mineral notes and a hint of black currant. It's absolutely delicious! You can find it at the cidery or in local grocery stores all over the city.

Blue Bee Cider, Fanfare ($10.95) - This unique rosé cider is infused with wild mulberries. It's semi-sweet and balanced with mineral notes and a hint of black currant. It's absolutely delicious! You can find it at the cidery or in local grocery stores all over the city.

{WRAPPING}: Whole Foods, Reusable Mini Tote Bag ($0.75) - Whole Foods and Etsy joined forces to design this adorable bag, which is a great eco-friendly wrapping option. It's cute enough to use all year long and cheaper than most disposal gift bags. Sold at Whole Foods in Short Pump. 

{WRAPPING}: Whole Foods, Reusable Mini Tote Bag ($0.75) - Whole Foods and Etsy joined forces to design this adorable bag, which is a great eco-friendly wrapping option. It's cute enough to use all year long and cheaper than most disposal gift bags. Sold at Whole Foods in Short Pump