When Umami Is Calling Your Name
Soy sauce inspires this week's dishes
It’s easy to take soy sauce for granted — there is at least one bottle in every fridge— but a good batch made in the traditional manner undergoes months or years of fermentation in order to build umami that will easily anchor a dish.
If you are out of soy sauce, buy the best you can afford — it’s worth it — but if you have a collection of half-full bottles of Kikkoman languishing in the fridge, use those first. Three out of the four recipes in this week’s roundup depend on soy sauce.
Mark’s egg noodles in soy broth will render the packaged ramen in your pantry obsolete. For a quick noodle soup, this is a fresher option, and it can be dressed up with soft-boiled egg, ginger, carrots, scallions, sprouts…whatever you like. Bok choy with shiitakes and oyster sauce is made almost as quickly, and you get to toss everything around in a screaming hot wok, which is its own reward. Striped bass poached in spicy soy sauce is as simple and delicious as it sounds and the potstickers are fun to prep with family or friends — my six-year-old wrapped about twenty of them after school one day last week. Once wrapped, they cook in minutes.
These dishes would work together as a feast or apart as stand-alone meals. They would all benefit from a side of steaming white rice.
Chinese Egg Noodles with Soy Broth
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
⅓ cup soy sauce, more to taste
⅓ cup ketchup or 3 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, more to taste
A few drops dark sesame oil (optional)
A squirt of Sriracha or other sauce, or a dried red chile to taste optional
1 pound egg noodles, preferably fresh
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. In a smaller pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil; once boiling, reduce heat so water bubbles gently.
2. To the smaller pot add soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sesame oil, if using, and Sriracha or chile, along with a pinch of salt. Stir and let simmer.
3. Add egg noodles to large pot; fresh noodles will be ready in just a couple of minutes; dried will take longer. When tender but not mushy, drain. Taste broth and add more soy, salt, vinegar or heat as you like. Divide noodles into bowls and pour hot broth over all.