Monday, March 29, 2010

Lobster Sotanghon with King Trumpet Mushrooms and Fried Garlic chips

This is a dish that my mother made up during one her visits to San Francisco.  She loves to shop at the Asian grocery stores on Clement Street and is always lauding about how much fresher and cheaper all the produce, meats and seafood are compared to Los Angeles.  During one particular visit when I got home from work she seemed particularly thrilled with that day's shopping. "Look, I got this lobster for half the price of a live one.  It is still fresh and would be perfect for.." and her voice trails away, a dreamy look softening her features.  "Lobster sotanghon!"  

My version uses a slightly different cooking technique for the lobster foie gras, which is the best way I can describe those yummy edibles found in the lobster head.  In a wok I heat up olive oil where I saute about three clove of garlic with baby celery, then add the lobster foie gras which takes on a nice almost translucent jade quality.  I reserve this then add the mushrooms.  King trumpets seem to have a lot of liquid and when sauteed in the same pan, a type of creamy gravy develops after only a few minutes.  

In a seperate pot (I prefer using a dutch oven)  I make a broth from sauteed shallots, a whole head of crushed garlic and the chopped lobster (shells and all) which I fry up before adding water.  I am careful not to overcook the lobster meat but at the same time, extract as much flavor from the shells to enrichen the broth. I remove the lobster and add the broth to the wok with the sauteed mushrooms. I season to taste with a little fish sauce, sea salt and pepper.  Turning up the heat, I add sotanghon noodles as the broth comes to a rapid boil.  I mix in the reserved lobster foie gras when the noodles are half cooked along with chopped baby ong choi (with the yellow flowers) and the lobster meat and shells.

Arranging the lobster artfully on the platter with fried garlic chips elevates an everyday noodle dish.  The sotanghon swells with the essence of the lobster broth, the mushrooms absorb the flavor of the fried lobster foie gras and mimics the mouth feel of the lobster meat itself.  A squeeze of lemon adds freshness.  Filipinos typically eat noodles with a little bit of rice.  The sotanghon is so flavorful that in this case, rice is recommended.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Kale and Shrimp Pasta a la Insomnia

When I called my mother at 3am somehow she didn't seemed that surprised to hear from me.  She is familiar with my quarterly bouts with insomnia and for some reason, I had a feeling she would be lucid enough and wouldn't be that annoyed by my after-midnight ramblings.  I convince her to drop everything and help me get my house in order, in the practical and spiritual sense.  She is in the middle of planting anthuriums and peonies, weeding her herb garden and picking vegetable seeds, but she says that her plants can survive for five days without her close tending.  I tell that those plants will be just fine, and for a bit of drama, it is I who will wilt if she doesn't fly out to San Francisco. Is tonight too soon? I love that my mother appreciates impromptu plans. I tell her that I haven't had a proper start to the New Year.  What would set me on the right track would be her ruthless organizing principles and take no prisoners approach to uncluttering our apartment.  It will feel like the New Year, lunar or otherwise, as soon as she her plane lands tonight and we go straight to my kitchen to prepare a healthy meal.  Everything begins with food. She is bringing black kale from the Torrance Farmer's Market.  I will buy fresh shrimps, lemons and good pasta.

My husband has come out of the bedroom and is pleading with me to join him even for just a few hours. It is 5am and we get ready for work soon. I will force myself to wind down so that I can get through the rest of the day.