Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Actually, I have this other post nearly finished with the recipe written out and only the photographs and some editing missing, but I haven't been feeling like finishing it in the past few days.

Instead, I have been wanting to tell you about a crazy soup experiment my housemate and I started last week.

At the university, where he was working, they had been collecting left over food at term end when all the students moved back home. Most of the food was donated to charity, but he brought home this set of dried Chinese soup ingredients ... and well, neither he, nor I had ever made Chinese soup like that. For us, not being familiar with the ingredients, the whole package looked slightly suspicious. Since the thing was quite voluminous though, taking up lots of space, my housemate "assigned" me the task to find out what to do with the kit.
So, by the next day I had googled some recipes and had a rough idea. The whole thing looked a bit like this, but unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph. Some more googling revealed that in fact only one of the packages contained mushrooms, the mushrooms having been monkey head mushrooms. The other sachets contained medicinal roots, goji berries, a special variety of dates and some dried sea snail.

I ended up deciding to soak everything that was not sweet and not a snail in water, which was to be the base for our soup. Since it was not to be a creamy soup we agreed on adding buckwheat noodles and this was essentially the crucial point for making the recipe a success.

We cooked the noodles in the soup and the whole dish turned into noodles, since all the soup was soaked up. This was what made it so good. Both my housemate and I agreed that it was absolutely delicious and that we had to try and re-create this dish! Which is what we did yesterday for a friend's birthday dinner.

You may have seen the photograph that I posted on Instagram (to go there see link in the sidebar). Again, you are invited to follow me there. I may not manage to write posts that frequently, but I always do cook and I post photographs, which hopefully inspire you to try some new things!

... And if there's anything you are really curious about, just ask me for the recipe. I am always more than happy to help anyone who is willing to actually try to do some cooking!

In general I hadn't thought I'd like the concept of taking pictures and posting them with very little text, since a lot is down to appearance.
I have to admit though, that I really enjoy posting on Instagram, as it motivates me not to cook the same thing three days in a row even when no one is there to have dinner with me and to still make it look nice even if it is just for me :-)

So back to the noodles!

Crazy Dried Mushroom Noodles

Time: 30 minutes + soaking time 6-12 hours

for 2 people
50-60 g dried mushrooms*
2 servings (170 g) soba noodles**
2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot
3 large chard leaves
4 spring onions, divided
¾ tsp tamarind
1-2 tbsp soy sauce


  • In the morning soak your mushrooms in 1 litre cold water. Place a glass or another item that is smaller than your soaking jar on to top of the mushrooms so that they actually stay submerged. Soak for 6-12 hours.
  • Drain the soaking water through a sieve into a medium sized pot. Squeeze the mushrooms as well as possible without squashing them completely. Start heating the liquid to bring it to a boil.
  • Cut the carrot in very thin 4 cm long sticks, cut the chard leaves into ribbons and thinly slice the spring onions. Keep the vegetables separate. Set ¼th of the spring onion aside for decoration. Slice the mushrooms into thin slices
  • Heat the oil in a mini wok or frying pan. Over medium high heat fry the remaining spring onion and carrot until slightly browned and soft. Add chard and fry until wilted. Add soy sauce, salt (depending on the saltiness of the soy sauce) and pepper.
  • By now the stock should be boiling. Add the mushrooms, the tamarind and ⅓ tsp salt and boil for 5 minutes. Then add vegetables with the juices and the soba noodles to the stock. Cook for about 5 minutes until the noodles are soft. Stir often so they don't stick together. Add water if necessary.
  • Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Serve in small bowls with crunchy spring onion sprinkled on top.

*Dried mushrooms: The first time we had monkey head mushrooms, together with some medicinal roots, which was fine. In that case remove the medicinal roots after soaking, since they stay quite hard. The second time we used dried shiitake mushrooms, which had much more flavour so I'd rather use these in the future. You can experiment with what you find, though.

** Soba noodles: We used these the first time, which thickened the remaining liquid's consistency very nicely. Also the noodles are flat, like linguine, which I liked. The second time we used these, which I think are probably more authentic, but didn't quite thicken the liquid as well. These are very thin round noodles. We preferred the more hearty noodles, but feel free to play around with the noodles you have or find and to find the ones you like best.

As always I'd happy to hear if you've tried this and how you liked it!

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