Saturday, April 09, 2005

Homemade noodles

The brand of udon I usually buy is Shirakiku's inaka udon. "Inaka" means "rustic" or "country-style" in Japanese. If that udon is rustic, then the egg noodles I made today hailed from way out in the boonies.

I've been craving egg noodles for a while, but I'm trying not to spend too much money right now. That means the usual shopping trips where I buy lots of intriguing things are out for the moment. It dawned on me that rather than buying a bag of egg noodles at the store, I could try making my own. It would be a culinary adventure.

I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (the same cookbook that gave me my first stir-fry recipe, but that's another story). I had to add a little water to get the dough to the right consistency for effective kneading, but after that, things went fine. I divided the dough into quarters; two of them got rolled into noodles while the other two got stashed in the freezer. I used one batch of noodles for dinner tonight, and the other batch got frozen as well.

When I realized I was using two egg yolks without the egg whites, I remembered that velveting meat in the Chinese manner requires egg whites but not yolks. There was the inspiration for a stir-fry. I decided to velvet some Quorn tenders, cook them in the sauce from wrong noodle stir-fry and pour them over the homemade noodles. Of course, the velveting solution calls for one egg white, so I just doubled the proportions of the other ingredients.

The Quorn tenders velveted adequately, though doubling the velveting solution was decidedly overkill. The sauce, possibly from the added infusion of cornstarch, ended up strongly resembling the sauce from cold Sichuan chicken; clearly a case of convergent evolution despite the different ingredients of oyster sauce and Worcestershire sauce. And the noodles looked frayed and irregular around the edges; some had not wanted to be picked up off the counter, so they were a little bunchy into the bargain. Some were thicker than others. It was not a polished collection of pasta pulchritude.

It was a great moment when I bit into a test noodle steaming from the pot and discovered that it tasted like a real noodle, however. Not only that, it had the right consistency. Somehow those little pieces of floury dough had been transformed into real pasta. None of the world's great pasta empires need tremble in fear, but my world is a somewhat brighter place. I love pasta, and today I made a batch all by myself.

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