Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not All My Experiments Work Out.

It occurs to me that in posting successful and interesting recipes, I give a somewhat mistaken impression of my cooking. Not everything works.

Of course, I'm long past the early, foolish stage of throwing together something new and trying it out on people. Nope: when I want to try something different, I do it quietly, and consider the results for myself.

Case in point: I was just preparing some twice-cooked pork, and I really went the indulgent path, shallow-frying the already steamed, marinated, and seasoning-coated pork-belly pieces in vegetable oil. (Normally I'd stir fry them with veg. Or even grill them.)

There was a half-packet of Udon-style Japanese noodles on the countertop, left over from young barf-boy Jake's luncheon. (He had a tasty, easily digestible soup with a little thinly-slivered spiced beef and fresh vegetables as well as the noodles.) Seeing as how I still had a pot of hot oil after the pork came out, I figured I'd chuck in the Udon noodles and see what happened.

For those who may not know, Udon noodles are a relatively thick rice/wheat noodle which you can often find in Japanese soups and stews. They're a bit chewier than your usual rice stick, and actually, they're a big favourite around here. I wondered what would happen if I dropped 'em into oil hot enough to give 'em a crunchy outer surface.

The answer? Nothing good. By the time the outside goes crunchy, the middle has become very damned chewy indeed. I may consider trying this again with MUCH hotter oil, but for the meantime, the idea is: don't deepfry Udon noodles.

To which you might reply -- why the hell would I want to do that in the first place? And I'd have to say: I'm not sure. But you never know. Sometimes these odd experiments turn out very, very well indeed. Like making ice-cream with Mascarpone instead of cream, for example. That works brilliantly.

But not fried Udon noodles. Nope. Yuck.


  1. I wish I had the time to fuck about in the kitchen and make different things. Sure I can churn out the odd intersting dish....but I am severely restricted by time usually, and the fact my little bloke is allergic to dairy and sesame. You'd be astounded at how the lack of those two things can restrict you.

    Still, nobody starves around here.

  2. The experiments don't generally take a lot of time. The whole Udon noodle thing was over in about five minutes. If it had worked, I'd have had an interesting new way to throw carbohydrates under a range of different foods... but it didn't work.

    I treat it as a hobby, though. So I might spend fifteen, twenty minutes seeing if I can boil down szechuan peppers in water and get that amazing zing into the water itself. If not, then I might try doing the same with clarified butter, or cooking oil. But in the long run, there's a method to the madness.

    Ten minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Eventually, I find something interesting that works, and it gets integrated into the cooking proper. I'll be making a lemon mousse today, and as well as the lemon juice and the lemon zest, there will be just a couple drops of essential oil of limes... because I experimented once, and it really, really worked well.

  3. Yeah. Once the basics are ingrained, you can take that moment to wander into the unknown. I would like to add: never make mince Stroganoff :)

  4. Eeeyew. Yeah, I think I can understand that.