Spicy Mushroom Udon Noodle Soup

Turned out to be just one of those weekends where things are just not going right. Had to go into the office on Saturday morning for a few hours to make sure things were going well. Unfortunately, I felt a cold coming on the day before and yes, stuffy nose and all, Saturday morning. I hate colds! On top of all that – it’s been raining for 2 days straight!  Now I know that most of you will go “really, rain for two days? What’s the problem?” However, I live in Arizona and this is not common for us; it’s supposed to be my favorite time of year.  Always sunny with temps in the upper 60’s and low 70’s.

With the rainy weather and “cold temps” (yea sorry, cold temps for me!), I was in the soup mood and Cavewoman was all for it. Being that I made chicken noodle soup a few weeks back, I decided I wanted something different. I decided to tackle a spicy Udon noodle soup. Traditionally, I am a huge chicken noodle, chicken and dumpling, & chicken pot pie fan – but I wanted to change it up with spicy zesty Asian flavors. That’s where the Udon noodle soup idea came in.

Being that I was a prisoner in my home, (rain and all) I went all out and made my own chicken broth. This really isn’t something I would recommend because nowadays you can buy chicken broth for a lot cheaper than you can make it. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t beat the flavors of homemade but for $10 a bowl, you can make it a lot cheaper with store-bought broth. So, if you’re feeling adventurous, check out my chicken broth recipe; if not, don’t be shy and buy the broth, I have plenty in my cupboard.

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What you will need:

  • 2 tbsp. bacon fat (or other oil)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 habanero, seeded and chopped (or 1 small jalapeno for less heat)
  • 3 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced (1 package)
  • 3 oz. oyster mushrooms, sliced (1 package)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast recipe follows
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 (7-ounce package) udon noodles, prepared according to package directionsoyster1[1]
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • 2 baby bells chopped for garnish
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, for garnish (optional, adds a good crunch)

 

Prep

Grab a small stock pot and fill it with about 8 cups of water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes. Add your chicken breast and bring the water just to a rolling boil. Then you will want to reduce the heat to a simmer and let the chicken cook. It will take about 15 – 20 minutes. Once it’s cooked set the chicken aside and let it cool and then shred it with a fork.

Caveman Tip*** If you boil the chicken it will seize up and get tough. You want to gently boil or simmer the chicken. I also like to add some dried herbs to the water to help add flavor to the chicken. You could also bake it or grill it whatever you want to do.shiitake01[1]

Cook

I like to use the same stock pot as I cooked the chicken in, less dishes to clean. To the pan add the bacon fat or oil and give it a medium heat. Next add the onions, celery, carrots, ginger and garlic to the pan. Cook until the onions become soft, stirring frequently.

Once the onions are soft, add the 8 cups of chicken broth and the diced habanero. Now turn up the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Let the broth simmer for about ten minutes with the lid off.

Caveman Tip*** By letting the brother simmer with the lid off, it will reduce the liquid slightly and give you a more concentrated flavorful broth. Always taste the broth at multiple times this will give you an idea if it needs more salt or other seasoning. I can’t say this enough; always taste your food as you cook.

While you are finishing you broth get a pan out and cook your noodles as the package describes, don’t forget to salt the water.Shredded Chicken

Caveman Tip*** I like to boil my noodles in a separate pan from the broth that way I can salt the noodles and the starch released from the noodles doesn’t get in my broth.

Once the broth is where you want it add the shredded chicken, shiitake and oyster mushrooms, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for another 20 minutes with the lid on. This will allow the beautiful flavor of those mushrooms to infiltrate that broth and give it an earthy flavor.

Grab a bowl; place your noodles in center and ladle the broth in. I like to garnish with a little cilantro, bean sprouts and red baby bell peppers.

Enjoy!

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Broccoli Beef!

So I know this doesn’t follow my caveman concept of cooking with ingredients the normal man (or woman) has in their pantry or fridge. Recently I have been experimenting with Asian foods and ingredients, and have found that keeping a couple of key items in the pantry helps with the creation.  The oyster sauce and fresh ginger can be stored in the fridge for weeks and they can be used in many other dishes.

What you will need for beef marinade:

  • ¾ lb. beef strips, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or substitute cooking sherry)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all the above ingredients and put them into fridge until you are ready to use.

What you will need for the sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken broth

Combine all the above ingredients and stir. Just let it sit until you are ready to use.

Final Ingredients for Broccoli Beef Mixture:

  • ¾ lb. broccoli florets
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil (or enough to coat bottom of pan)

Prepare Broccoli:  

Fill a large stock pot with salted water and warm to medium high heat.

**Caveman Tip:  Because the water takes so long to boil – I like to bring it to a medium high heat while you’re getting the other ingredients ready because it warms the water and gets it near boiling temps.  That way, when we’re ready for the broccoli, we won’t have to wait on the water…it will be close.

Separate the broccoli florets from the large bunch and set them aside until you’re ready for them.

Prepare Beef

**Caveman MUST: about 10 minutes before you’re ready to cook the beef, pull it from the fridge and bring up to room temperature.

Using a large metal skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil to medium high heat.  You want the steaks to sear, but not burn.  Lay the beef strips in the pan, giving them plenty of space between one another.  **Caveman Tip:  Overcrowding the beef strips will cause the pan to lose too much heat, and you want to get a good sear on your beef, so spacing is crucial! Otherwise you could boil your meat. (not good) You may need to cook a couple of rounds of beef in the pan to do it right.

 

(At some point you may want to get your water up to a boil now)

Cook the strips of beef about 1 minute per side, allowing for a good sear on each side.  Then remove the beef strips from heat.  (Repeat the process until they are all done)  When on your last bunch of beef strips, combine all beef together, and add ginger.  Stir frequently for a minute, this is just to cook the ginger. Add your Sauce to the beef mixture and bring temperature up to a boil.

Scrape all the goodness off the bottom of the pan and stir frequently.  This will help thicken the sauce. Cook the meat mixture over high heat until the sauce is reduced by half and the sauce has started to thicken.

At this point you will want to drop the broccoli in the boiling water. It will only take a minute to cook, you want to the broccoli to be firm and crisp because it will continue to cook even after you pull it from the water.

**Caveman Tip:  The most common mistake people make when cooking vegetables is they over cook them to a mush.  I like to pull them early because they will continue to cook even while sitting on the plate. Some people prefer to shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process but then you have to warm them back up.

Combine Broccoli and Beef:

Add your broccoli to the beef mixture & remove it from the heat.

 

Serve with Caveman’s “Go-to white rice”