Curried Ramen with Pickled Squash and Beans

Curried Ramen with Pickles and Beans

There are most likely quite a few value conscious CSA members out there.  I know that I am certainly one of them.  During tough economic times, budgets can be tight and time can be short.  For me, time spent in the kitchen can be a joy, but I can’t spend hours in the kitchen every night.  So there are plenty of times that I want something quick and inexpensive.  However, I am loathe to turn to cheap processed foods.  Instead, I’d rather think about what I can create from what I already have in my refrigerator or pantry, and create authentic, wholesome flavors from simple and fresh ingredients.

{Recipe after the jump.}

Ramen can be a staple of a budget conscious diet.  I think for many of us, the small dried brick of noodles probably became such as staple in our younger years that we try not to think of it now that we are older.  But rather than thinking of Ramen as a cheap, quick, overly seasoned noodle soup, let’s take a moment and rethink of it just as an ingredient.  Open a package, and toss the flavor packet in the garbage.  Now what do you have?  Dried noodles, with little difference to dried pasta that we don’t hesitate to use other than cooking time and texture.  And that will be key.  To cook dried Ramen and, in the end, have a chewy, toothsome texture, quick cooking time is essential.  Let’s forget about the 3 minute cooking time on the packages that gives you soggy, mushy noodles.  We’re talking about a cooking time in simmering salted water of only 30-45 seconds total, just until the noodle brick starts to soften and just begins to fall apart when pulled from the water.  Cooking your Ramen in this manner will give you a satisfying texture that comes at least a little closer to the fresh Ramen that’s easy to find in noodle shops in the city.

To go with our extremely quick noodles, we’re going to use some basic ingredients that can be staples in your pantry or refrigerator and are easy finds in most of the Asian markets in the city and possibly some other grocery stores in the area if you can’t make a weekend trip to Sunset Park.  We’ll be using basics from a typical summer CSA share to add freshness and flavor to this quick dish. — Adam Gregory

Curried Ramen with Pickled Squash and Beans

Servings: 6

Cooking time: around 45 minutes (full preparation); around 15 minutes (with sauce and pickles made in advance)

Curried Ramen with Pickles and Beans Ingredients

Ramen Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 6 bricks dried Ramen noodles
  • ¾  lb CSA beans
  • 1 cup blanched and shelled CSA soybeans (edamame)
  • 2-3 thinly sliced CSA Zucchini
  • 6 thinly sliced Carrots
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced

For the Curry:

  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup Water
  • 1 ½  tbs Red Curry Paste (add less curry paste for less spice)
  • ¼ Onion, diced
  • 1 tbs minced Ginger
  • 1 tbs Vinegar (red, white, black, rice, etc)
  • 1 tsp Fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp water + 1 tsp cornstarch
  • salt to taste

For the Pickle brine:

  • ⅔  cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 ½ cup Water
  • 2 tbs Tamarind paste
  • 8 thin slices of Ginger
  • 2 ½ tbs Honey
  • 2 tsp Salt

Directions:

1)    This recipe will be done in two parts.  First, we’re going to make the pickled zucchini and curry sauce.  These can be used to throw together a quick dinner the next day or later in the week with your ramen and vegetables.

2)    Wash the zucchini.  Using a food slicer or knife, cut thin rounds from the zucchini.  Imagine thin pickle slices, and you’ll probably know how thin these should be cut.  You don’t want them paper thin, but you don’t want thick either.  These will pickle in about a day, and if you use thick chunks, they won’t pickle quickly enough.

3)    Prepare the pickle brine.  Combine the water, vinegar, honey, tamarind, ginger, and salt in a small pot over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and let simmer for two minutes.  Make sure the ingredients are dissolved.

4)    Placed the sliced zucchini in a jar or container and pour in the brine.  Allow to cool on your counter for a bit and place in your refrigerator.  These will not last as long as a conventional pickle, but they will keep for at least a couple of weeks.

5)    For the curry sauce, heat the olive oil in a small pot over medium low heat and sweat the onion and ginger with a tiny bit of salt for around 5 minutes.  Add the curry paste and stir to combine.  Add the chicken broth, water, vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce and simmer this for around 10 minutes.  Let cool and refrigerate until you are ready to make the noodles.

6)    Now that the prep work is done, it’s quite easy to make your noodles.  Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash enough green beans, carrots, and green onions for your noodles.  Around 12 beans, one carrot, and around ½ of a green onion will be fine for each person.

7)    In a small pot, heat enough of your curry sauce for your noodles.  You won’t want a lot.  We’re not making a broth.  We just want enough to coat and flavor the noodles and vegetables.   Add a little water to this to ensure it doesn’t condense while reheating.  While this is heating, cut your beans into 1 inch pieces.  Also, peel and thinly slice your carrots.

7)    When the water is boiling, blanch your green beans and carrots for around 3 minutes.  When they are tender, remove from the water and set aside.

8)    In the meantime, thinly slice your green onion.

9)    After the green beans and carrots have cooked, use the same simmering water to cook your ramen.  Place the brick in the water, pushing down every few seconds in a pair on tongs (very important instrument for this FYI).  When you feel the noodles just start to give against the weight of your tongs as you push down, flip the brick over.  This will probably have taken around 20-30 seconds.  Now, cook the noodles for another 15-20 seconds or until the noodles just begin to push apart.  Using your tongs, scoop them out.  They should just start to separate as you’re taking them of the water.

10)    Add the noodles to a mixing bowl with your blanched green beans, carrots, cooked edamame, and green onions.  Pour over the curry sauce, and toss to coat.   Serve with some of your pickled zucchini and you are ready to eat.

Enjoy!

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