Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ramen & my newly developed K-Drama addiction

First... The Ramen

I don't know if it is the passing of the holidays, or the 5000 units of Vitamin D I've been taking, but I've been feeling something closer to normal these past few days. And that means I am starting to get back into the projecty mode I am usually in, where I find some random thing I want to do and then do it. Yesterday, I wanted to make Ramen. I thought I'd wing it.  I had a big huge pork bone left over from a Pernil we had recently. It was in the freezer calling my name. So yesterday morning, before I packed the kid off to PreSchool, I threw it into the oven frozen on a piece of foil and took off to take Alex to school.

When I got back, I realized that the kitchen and most of the rest of house is still crushed underneath the layer of unwanted clutter we acquired or brought out during the holidays. So I had to give the kitchen a bit of a cleaning just to undertake the project. I wrote for a bit, and then just before I went to pick the kid up, I threw a full pot of water on the stove with water, some tops and bottoms of celery, an onion, some coarsely chopped carrot, and the last four cloves of fresh garlic I had left. I also threw in the now browned bone that had been baking in the oven.

We got home to the house smelling delicious already. So I let that simmer for HOURS, and the son and I instead endeavoured to make the noodles.

3.5 cups of flour
2 tablespoons of water
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until it's a kneadable dough. Make a ball, flatten, cut in four wedges, and plastic the others as you work each quarter.

The KitchenAid is my most precious kitchen implement. I got the standard 4 liter one with the tilty head for a wedding gift, and I adored that one. But then my friend Stephie gave me a Professional model a couple of years ago. And that one is THA BOMB. I replaced a few parts on it. And it has worked its ass off for me already.

I'm lucky to have a few pasta attachments for it. The roller, which is essential for not only shaping the dough for cutting, but also for making the dough flexible and delicious. My kid and I processed all four quarters of the pasta in four batches. First we pressed it and smoothened it with setting 1, then we worked up to 2, then 4, and then finally 6. We cut the noodles at the 6 thickness. I also have a spaghetti cutter and a linguine cutter. The spaghetti cutter is perfect.

We cut the spags, and laid them out on layers of wax paper. I used to have a drying tree, but it really isn't a necessary item to have. I just spread the noodles on the wax paper, and then when we were done boiling the half for the night, I just rolled each layer into its paper and threw them into the freezer.

I boiled a few of the last of my eggs from my chickens (they went to live somewhere else on Wednesday).

I spent a little time carefully julienning some veggies (and slicing too). Mushrooms, carrots, celery, pepper, and cabbage. I also cut up a few radishes to give that water-chestnut crunch. I blanched all of those (except the radish) in a few ladlefuls of the soup stock, each in turn, and put them on a platter for placement. I peeled the eggs, and put them out for prep too.

Then I broiled two pork chops with salt and pepper, waited for them to cool, and sliced them up.

I added salt to taste to the broth, to which I added a little water, as it had concentrated a bit from simmering. When the broth was salted and peppered enough, I boiled the noodles in it.

Using tongs, I pulled these super-long noodles out and heaped them into the bowls first, then added the toppings (quite messily I might add). I put a little of each veg, some meat and the egg, as well as some freshly chopped green onion on the pile. And then I ladled the broth over the heap of goodness.

I overboiled the eggs, but that is not a crime. Yet.

It was really good. The only thing missing for me was something seaweedy. Some nori or something. But that's only me. Hubbo was perfectly happy with it. And the amount I made was sufficient for two nights. So we had Ramen again tonight. So nummo!  I will probably do this again with beef, turkey and chicken bone sooner or later.

Next; the K (and J and C) Dramas (and comedies)

I won't lie, the Ramen fix is because of my new addiction. That and my desire to make Bibimbap and a variety of other Asian dishes. You see I got to the point where I watched just about everything worth watching on regular Netflix. One day a couple of months ago, out of desperation for something good, and something interesting, I selected a title that was on the trending list. I had already watched Atelier, which is a wonderful Japanese show about a lingerie designer. So I was getting some recommendations for international titles. I've watched a few both Korean and Japanese, and even a Chinese drama that is a little too saccharine for me in this case.

Here are the shows I've binged (don't judge me) and what my reviews are of them:

Erased - 4 stars. 
Thoughtful and beautifully filmed, this movie is a fantasy where the hero goes back in time to save his mother's life, and ends up saving many, many more, and changing his present. It's a sweet thriller. Definitely compelling and a good show.

Strong Girl Bong-Soon - Five Stars of Fun.
Strong Girl Bong-Soon - I rate it 5 stars. It's hilarious and sweet and funny. I love that she kicks ass, which seems to be a bit of a rarity in the K and J Dramas. Most of the time, the girls are inept and bumbling and always falling for guys who are arrogant and who treat them like shit. Stalking usually succeeds, and they get their man. But only after being humiliated for it. Strong Girl Bong-Soon, she's my kind of heroine. And she rescues her man more than once. A fun fun fun show.

The Many Faces of Ito - 3.5 stars
I probably would have liked this one more if it hadn't felt so truncated. I felt like there had to be more after the end. This is a story of a scriptwriter who derives material from the stories of four everyday women who happen to be dating the same guy.  

My Little Baby - 3.5 stars
I confess I had to struggle to stick with this one, it was not super-compelling. What made me stick with it was the lead, Oh Ji-Oh was so super adorable. OMG, I have a major crush on him, and he shows up in another show I'm watching right now, and he's even sexier. The show is pretty funny and the premise is sweet and cute. He's a kick-ass cop whose life is taken over by his little baby niece, whom he becomes guardian of after his sister and her husband are killed in a car crash. He moves into an apartment with a former cop friend, and immediately finds himself the beset upon by the complex's Mommy club--who are apparently harder to deal with than full on criminals. It's pretty cute.

Let's eat - 3.5 stars
Food is a pretty big theme in all the shows I've watched. Even the sappy romantic ones I purposefully left off this list, because I'm too embarrassed to admit I watched them (and enjoyed them). But the nearly-pornographic relationship with food in K-Drama goes full monty in this one, there are scenes that are minutes and minutes long of people just stuffing their craws with every kind of sumptuous food you can possibly imagine. There's a scene in a shellfish restaurant that almost made me book a ticket to South Korea. LOL.

 I've never seen that much footage taken of people just reveling in the consumption of a pizza or a bowl of mixed rice. But you will in this show. I probably would have given it more stars if the girl had chosen the right guy in this one--at least in my opinion. This show has a sequel I haven't watched yet. I might watch it if I run out of other awesome options, which seem to be plentiful at the moment.

Oh My Ghost - 5 stars
I LOVED this show. I thought it was thoughtful, and the perfect mix of humour and drama. The premise is that a ghost will appear and remain on earth if they have a grudge, and often, it is because they die virgins, so they try to possess bodies in order to get deflowered so they can rest in peace. Chased by a Seer, the ghost jumps into the body of a Mousy line cook, who also happens to be a Seer like her grandmother. Unable to leave the girl's body, the ghost stirs up this meek little girl's life in every way. She goes after the Mousy girl's dream man. The ghost also discovers that her grudge might not just be about her virginity and that she might still be lingering because she has unfinished business with her mysterious death.

12 Years Promise - 4 Stars
This one, I imagined would be a straight romance, but it was more than that, and a pleasant surprise. The story is, seniors in high-school, both with bright futures, a young man and woman have an encounter that ends up producing a child. The pregnancy brings their families (mainly their overwrought and kind of narcissistic and obnoxious moms) into conflict, tearing the couple apart.  Twelve years later, the leading lady returns to work at a department store to find that her men's department counterpart is none other than her teen lover. Both with scars and misunderstanding, they must confront old crushes and still-bitter family in order fix things. I think the only thing that really bummed me out about this one, was that there were so many loose ends left dangling a the end. They left you with an idea of what would happen, but I really wanted to see it.

Kantaro - Sweet Tooth Salary Man - 5 Stars
I. Love. This. Show. It's kooky and weird and absolutely perfect. Kantaro changed jobs so he could work in sales. Why? Because when he's out on sales calls, he can sneak off and feed his addiction to sweets during the day on the clock. Otherwise, he'd be only free on Saturdays to do that, and who would want to be kept from eating perfect sweets for that long?  Kantaro has a secret sweets blog, where he features his poetic missives about each culinary delight he eats, and the beautiful lady in Online Sales is onto him. But she too is a sweets-addict. I cannot wait when the next season of episodes is released. I hope they are soon. Each episode is short, less than half an hour. It is easy to binge this one. I did sometimes, admittedly, fast-forward through the food-head segments. But Ssshhh.

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories  - 5 stars
This is probably the best Asian show I've seen. It's gritty and really thoughtfully presented. It follows the nightly stories of a midnight eatery in the heart of Tokyo and the intriguing and colourful parade of customers who eat there. There are the regulars, and then there are people who come in with their stories. It is a common dish that gets the conversations going, and then the stories are told, a new one for every too-short episode. It's brilliant. Watch it.

Last but not least:

Momo Salon - 5 Stars
This show was like candy. The episodes are literally less than 8 minutes each. And they are every one a delight. There is probably less than an hour total to binge the whole thing. It's about a hairdresser who opens a salon on her own and follows her as her struggling business grows thanks to her shop becoming a package holding service. In the brief episodes, they still manage to squeeze in a lot of story. And it's just joyful and delightful to watch.

So the lesson is if you think you have seen it all, and there's nothing on Netflix, think again. There's SO MUCH on Netflix. But you might have to deal with subtitles. No biggie. The only downside is that you will crave Asian food like no tomorrow. Maybe my next post will be a Korean dish. We shall see! Portland has a great Jade District with so many Asian grocery stores. I might have to go shopping. :)

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