CARUSO'S NOODLE BOWL (all
caps 'cause it rocks).
Here's my general recipe for making a
(tasty) noodle bowl. I usually tweak this based on what is on hand in
the fridge and/or fresh and/or in season. The key is to have 1. broth,
2. some sort of meat, 3. some sort of mushroom, 4. vegetables, and 5.
some sort of cabbage (baby bok choy works best). When cooking the meat
and vegetables, it works best to slightly undercook them because boiling
broth will be added last and will end up overcooking anything that is
Prep time: ~30 minutes
Total cooking time: ~30 minutes
- Dashi or bonito stock
You can make your own (boil some conbu and bonito flakes, then
strain) or buy it in powder form. This is the base for the broth. In
a pinch, a Ramen seasoning packet will work, just be sure to dilute
it because you will be adding at least soy sauce to the mix and
donít want it to be ridiculously salty. You will need enough broth
to fill however many noodle bowls you're making. I've found that
roughly 2 cups per bowl is standard.
- Soy sauce
I prefer a type of soy sauce called tamari, which is richer in
flavor (and saltier) than standard soy sauce.
Udon works best, but Ramen noodles also work in a pinch. The
fridge section in the vegetable aisle of most grocery stores has a
decent selection of soft Asian noodles that work well in this
- Chopped green onions
Also called ďscallionsĒ if youíre kickiní it East Coast style.
- Pepper cut into strips
Red bell pepper works great (green bell peppers are for suckers),
or something hot and spicy like a diced serrano for the adventurous.
- Chopped fresh shitake mushrooms
Regular mushrooms work great, too.
- Meat cut into thin, 2-inch-long
I prefer chicken or beef. If you use any kind of seafood, use the
soy sauce sparingly.
- Baby bok choy chopped into strips
Use the leafy part of the bok choy. Cabbage is a good substitute.
- Chopped fresh veggies
Use whatever is in season, but avoid anything with either a sweet
or acidic flavor. And, whatever you do, avoid anything in a can as
canned vegetables tend to be watery and will dilute the flavors in
your noodle bowl.
- Sesame oil
- (Optional) Rough-chopped cilantro
If you use cilantro, add it at the very end, after youíve poured
the broth over your meat, veggies and noodles.
- (Optional) Rice wine vinegar
When I use this in the broth, I only use a dash 'cause it can
really overpower the other flavors if too much is used. You can end
up with something really sour and funky if you go nuts with the
- (Optional) Stuff to season the broth
and meat, such as ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, miso
paste, etc., etc.)
- Sharp knife for chopping
- Cutting board
- Wok or pan
- Tongs or long fork
- Start the dashi or bonito broth cooking. In the last steps, this
has to be boiling because it is going to cook some of the veggies in
the bowl when you combine the components. Season the broth to taste.
I like it with some soy sauce/tamari and some dark miso paste (very
tasty, and a little goes a long way). Oyster or hoisin sauce is also
good, depending on your taste. Then again, nothing tastes better
than a simple dashi with a dash of soy sauce.
- Chop the green onions, baby bok choy and any other tender
vegetables (anything that takes little time to cook, such as leafy
greens) and set aside. These will be added to your bowl later and
cooked by the boiling broth when you add it.
- Add sesame oil to a pan and let it get nice and toasty on
medium-high heat. Then, add the mushrooms, pepper and any firm
vegetables to the hot oil (watch for boiling-hot splatters). Stir
fry this for about 5 minutes. The goal here is to soften the
ingredients up a bit and let the flavors mingle before adding the
- Add your noodles to the broth and cook until they are done. This
bulk of this step is done in conjunction with the next step and you
are going to let the noodles cook while you are cooking the meat
(just donít forget to stir occasionally, unless you like noodle-log
bowl). The length of time you let the noodles cook really depends on
what noodles you choose. Timing here is a tad on the tricky side if
you're using dry noodles.
- Add meat to your pan with the mushrooms and veggies and cook
until meat is the desired doneness. Again, it is best to leave the
meat ever-so-slightly undercooked because the cooking process will
be completed by the boiling broth. Also, add any extra seasoning to
the meat and veggies at this point. Salt, ground pepper, ginger,
garlic and soy sauce are all tasty. How much you add is really a
personal preference. Iíve been known to add pepper flake, but then,
my taste buds have probably been burned off at this point.
- With tongs or a long fork, pull out some of the cooked noodles
and add them to the bottom of a large-ish bowl. Add your cooked meat
and veggie mixture on top of the noodles. Then, add the green
onions, baby bok choy and tender chopped veggies.
- Pour boiling broth over meat/veggies/noodles and let steep for 3
or 4 minutes. When the tender veggies are slightly limp, it's ready
to eat. Take care with the first couple bites because everything in
the middle of the bowl is going to be like hot fire lava. Seriously.
Hot. Fire Lava.