On the days I go into the office, I order takeout. I work in Lowell, which has a substantial Asian immigrant population, so there are a ton of Asian places to choose from. One that my officemates and I order from occasionally is a place called Wee Thai Food. I usually order the Drunken Noodle, which they make very spicy, but I wasn’t in the mood for spicy, so I tried their crab fried rice instead. Good choice on my part. It was quite satisfying, as a good rice dish should be, but not heavy or greasy like your standard takeout pork fried rice. A few big bits of crab meat on top, and smaller bits throughout gave it an excellent seafood flavor. In all honesty, a lot of the Asian takeouts are not all that great, but Wee Thai really excels.
Haven’t made ramen at home for a while. I think this was the last time I did, two years ago. I made my own dashi, which necessitated buying some kombu and bonito flakes at the Asian supermarket, but you can also buy instant dashi, which works just fine. This was miso ramen, so in addition to dashi, you need red miso paste. You also need some stock in addition to the dashi. I used Rachael Ray vegetable stock. Most ramen places we go to use their own pork stock made from scratch, but while homemade dashi only takes a few minutes, homemade pork stock takes hours and hours. It is on my list of cooking projects to do someday, just not that day. We had fresh ramen noodles on hand at the time, so we didn’t have to buy them at the H-Mart. If you don’t have a readily available Asian grocery, Amazon sells just about everything you might need for this, as does Umamicart.com. The other fresh ingredients all came from our regular supermarket.
Between instant dashi and boxed stock, you can make up ramen broth very quickly, so it’s totally do-able as a weeknight meal. The dried ramen you get on the cheap at the grocery store is an acceptable alternative if fresh ramen is hard to come by. Just cook it in some plain boiling water and add it to the broth. The rest of this bowl was some chopped fresh spinach, some frozen corn that I briefly microwaved, a 6-minute soft-boiled egg, and some enoki mushrooms.
We had several different kind of frozen dumplings taking up a lot of space in the freezer, so we had Dumpling Night for dinner. Those big ones in the front are Korean kimchi and pork dumplings. The round ones are xiao long bao – Shanghai-style soup dumplings. The flat-ish ones are pork and veggie gyoza. There’s also some daikon (muu) kimchi and a bowl of steamed edamame. Not in the photo are some kimchi pancakes and some vegetable pancakes.
Maybe we should have called lit Kimchi Night, because it featured so prominently. The muu kimchi is homemade. My mother gave my wife a kimchi making it for Christmas and this was her first attempt. It was really good.
Of the dumplings, I especially love soup dumplings. These are frozen ones I ordered online, and they are acceptable but nothing special. We like to go to a couple of places that specialize in them, so we’re spoiled for very good ones. The frozen gyozas are something we often keep on hand, since they make for an easy lunch. The kimchi-pork ones were something we picked up at H-Mart and liked well enough to buy a second bag.
The two different kinds of pancakes did not turn out great. My wife did the cooking, and I think having to handle so many things at once got away from her a little bit. But the kimchi pancakes showed promise.