Saturday, January 08, 2005

Yakisoba on the road

Today I went birding with The Lurker, Perfect Tommy and The Blonde Bandit. The full-day trip demanded some decisions about lunch and, given a mid-morning start, I decided to bring a lunch instead of buying one. I made some more yakisoba this morning and tweaked the sauce some. I've made yakisoba enough times to know that I have the basic technique down; I just need to tinker with the sauce. Today's sauce:

1/3 cup shoyu
1/3 cup sake
several dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
grated palm sugar to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil

I stir-fried some chopped shallots in peanut-canola oil, then stir-fried napa cabbage and shredded carrot for 2 minutes. I added some cashews (a mix of non-roasted and roasted, mainly because I needed to finish up the non-roasted ones) and stir-fried for one more minute. Then I added the chukasoba noodles, poured the sauce over the other ingredients and simmered in the covered skillet for 5 minutes.

I was pleased that my first attempt at reinventing the sauce came out so well. It was very tasty, though the perfectionist in me thinks that Worcestershire sauce and oyster sauce in one dish is redundant. The sesame oil tied everything together, and the cashews were the perfect added touch (they were a spontaneous inspiration). The sauce was less liquid than the one from the other night, which only used 1/3 cup shoyu, 1/3 cup sake and some sugar. Go figure.

After a full day of birding and frivolity (mostly the latter), dinner was at the Americana Diner in East Windsor, a local favorite. Perfect Tommy considers the Americana to be a "Tier 3" diner, the top category in his rating system. Such praise from Perfect Tommy does not come easily; the Americana is the only known Tier 3 diner (though the Shoreline Diner in Guilford, CT, may be a Tier 2.9). The complementary bruschetta was the right light opening for the meal. I had the open-face roast beef sandwich, which was slathered with thick gravy and accompanied by spicy, slightly chunky mashed potatoes. Also included was a cup of the soup du jour; I chose minestrone which turned out to be tasty and not too heavy. There was an abundant expanse of broccoli (plus some cauliflower, green beans and carrots) on the side of the sandwich. Although I don't eat broccoli, it didn't go to waste because The Blonde Bandit took it home with her for use in future salads. As usual, everyone was full of praise for their meal. I have yet to have a bad meal at the Americana. Looking around on the web, I see I'm not its only fan.


The Cruise Director said...

Boy - a teir 3Diner. How does Mastori"s rate on this system? The Fireman & I had two nice meals at the Shoreline Diner. When I saw the words "Vegetarian Enclave" I yelled pull over! The other CT diner we like is the Cromwell Diner in Cromwell, CT

Winslow said...

Hi Cruise Director,

I'll have to ask Perfect Tommy how he ranks Mastori's. Perfect Tommy really should have his own blog, but he seems to reach his best rant level in front of a live audience. I've never been to Mastori's myself, so maybe we'll have to arrange a visit.

The Deacon and I tried the Shoreline on a trip to Cape Cod last spring, stopping for lunch both outbound and inbound. The chicken francaise I had on the way up was to die for; I can't remember what I had on the way back, but it was also very good. Another point in the Shoreline's favor these days is that it's the midpoint between central Jersey and the Cape, and therefore a good place to stop and nosh. In the old days, when I lived in north Jersey, the midpoint was Mystic and the traditional stop was the Howard Johnson's just off I-95 (now a Bickford's). Ah, memories.

I think I've been to the Cromwell Diner with The Deacon, but I would have to have my memory jogged by her. There are several Connecticut diners we've visited on various trips and damned if I can keep them straight.