Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chicken, Noodles And Everything Nice - Almost


Jan and I came from vastly different food backgrounds. Two different genders rule the kitchens in our homes. They share nearly nothing in common when it comes to food philosophy.

My mom isn’t a fan of instant seasoning products. In fact she is so against monosodium glutamate that if she organized an anti MSG campaign, a few Ajinomoto representatives would seriously shake in their boots. In the past, she did very occasionally relax her principled stance, using one kind of instant product with MSG, the bouillon cube. She had to use that when time was against her and her six hungry children were already chewing on their soup bowls.

In Jan’s home where his father is the king of the kitchen, MSG is a staple ingredient. His dad scoffs at dishes that don’t contain the ingredient and he’d walk to the ends of the earth in a storm to buy some if he ran out of it. If there was an ode to MSG, I’m sure he’d sing it every morning before preparing breakfast.

I spent years in both households, the one with and the one without MSG. What did I learn comparing two different kitchens? There’d be war if we took in both our parents in their old age in a house with one kitchen. :)

In this blog Jan and I have tried to veer away from using too many instant seasonings in our dishes. This is not because we want to depart from his father’s practice. It’s because that’s just the path we feel like taking or maybe it’s just because we’re big fans of The Lifestyle Channel where every chef loves to make life difficult by going the natural way.

So our policy is to limit the use of instant flavor enhancers and to not post complete recipes that feature these enhancers as critical ingredients. Take note that I said “limit”. You might wonder why we’re taking a half baked stance. To be honest it would be great if we could go all natural but we live in a city where certain natural ingredients are rarer than moon dust. That’s why sometimes we need to use ingredients that are made of ingredients that are partially artificial.

Because of our policy, I’m not posting the complete recipe to this dish. For the soup we used a hot pot soup base sachet that already had the works in it. Jan is in the habit of picking up ingredients in the supermarket that have characters on them we can’t read so he can experiment with our digestive systems. That’s how he found the artificial soup base.

We did try to take a semi natural approach though so this dish isn’t entirely seasoned by an MSG based product. Jan boiled the chicken in water and used the resulting liquid to cook the noodles and steam the vegetables. The brown topping on the chicken is oyster sauce and the light brown bits are fried garlic.

I just thought it would be a pity not to post at least the photo of this dish. It just looks so nice. It tastes nice too actually.

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