Wednesday, February 27, 2008

ACORNucopia Noodles (도토리국수)

Acorn noodles with a cornucopia of protein and crunchy veggies

Acorn Noodles

A Primer on the Delectable Edible Acorn

Way healthier than wheat and tastier too, acorns served as sustenance to us since prehistoric times. During times of destitution in Korea, the poor and forlorn would seek food derived from the acorn. Now, it is not necessity that drives us to squirrel away these oak nuts but its health benefits and delicious nutty flavor.

Acorn flour

Google for acorn flour, and few people—save self-sufficient mountain Jacks, Wiccan chefs, and Native Americans—go through the trouble of processing acorn flour because the procedure is notoriously difficult. First, you must collect acorns, being wary of weevil larvae, then, leech out the tannins, and peel away tough husks before grinding the grain-like nuts into flour. Leeching out the tannins alone may take up to ten hours and several water changes.

But, dig a little deeper into the web, varying your search terms, and you will find dotori muk, acorn jelly, and dotori gooksoo, acorn noodles. In Korean cuisine, acorn flour and starches are frequently used in cooking, so much so that the starch and flour are manufactured and sold at many Korean grocery stores. Finished acorn-based products such as the dotori muk and dotori gooksoo are also available at many Korean stores. Be wary of products labeled as acorn noodles, however, because some contain as little as 4% acorn flour. The highest percentage of acorn flour I have seen contained in acorn noodles is 35%, and this was fact was proudly touted in a Well-Being store in Seoul.

The acorn noodles in my recipe are homemade and contain 70 percent fresh ground acorn meal. Due to the freshness and lack of preservatives of the acorn noodles, they should be stored in the freezer. I have decided to make these noodles available for purchase due to a complete absence of quality acorn noodles web and storewide.

Acorn flour

All About Acorn Hut's Acorn Soba Noodles

Packed with essential amino acids and antioxidants, Acorn Hut's acorn noodles are a healthy and flavorful alternative to any pick of pasta. This dish teems with ten different vegetables and the parent-child proteins of chicken and egg. The juxtaposition of contrasting textures and tastes create a unique savory experience as the garlic, pan-roasted burdock seasons, and is in turned livened by, a bunch of crisp bean sprouts. Fragrant, fresh-snipped perilla and garland chrysanthemum, tossed in with sliced cabbage, green onions, carrots, cucumbers and two types of hot peppers, complete the spicy cornucopia with a satisfying crunch.

I developed this recipe after tasting Kobawoo restaurant’s version of dotori gooksoo. Their kochujang sauce left much to be desired as it varnished my tongue with a watery wasabi-like resin. Meanwhile, key Korean vegetables seemed M.I.A. while the red onions and bell peppers tasted misplaced.

Buy MyEpikorean Organic Acorn Noodles

In Acorn Hut's ACORNucopia Noodle Recipe, only the finest ingredients are used. No corn syrup is added to the organic kochujang sauce—the same cannot be confidently said for Kobawoo’s kochujang sauce. Acorn Hut’s noodles consist of a 70 percent acorn flour base. And the only two oils sparingly used are organic extra virgin olive oil and toasted sesame oil. The best part about making this dish at home is that you are the Q.C.M. (Quality Control Manager), and the ingredients are as organic and fresh as you desire.

ACORNucopia Acorn Noodle Recipe

~ Serves 3-4 people

The Chicken and the Egg
You can use either hard boiled eggs or egg ribbons. Using hard boiled eggs takes less time but otherwise, which you choose is a matter of personal taste. To save time, you may also opt for a pre-made rotisserie chicken.

Hard Boiled Eggs
Boiling an egg is not as straightforward as tossing it in boiling water. Here are a few tips for a fluffier egg.

2-3 eggs
1. Prick the top of the egg with a pin to allow the egg to expand into its whole shell as it cooks.
2. Boiling time may vary depending on the size of the egg, but I don’t think you should boil any sized egg for more than 15 minutes.
3. Rinse the eggs in cold water to make peeling easier.

Egg Ribbons
Use a small non-stick pan when making these egg ribbons. Always keep the heat medium to low to prevent to release of unwanted chemicals. This recipe is similar but less labor intensive than my egg omelet recipe in Kickin’ California Kimbap.

3 eggs
½ tsp olive oil
¼ tsp honey
1 tsp mirin
Pinch sea salt
1. Melt the honey into the mirin.
2. Beat the honeyed mirin and salt into the eggs.
3. Lubricate the heated pan with olive oil.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and wait until the egg solidifies and edges brown a little.
5. Flip the egg, turn off the heat, and let sit.
6. Slice the egg into 1/6 inch strips. Set aside in small bowl.
I have used pre-made rotisserie chickens from Costco and Zankou with great success. Be wary of pre-made chickens at grocery stores like Ralphs because they tend to be overly salted. But for a healthier alternative, cook your own chicken breasts.

One tablespoon sesame oil
2 large chicken breasts
2 two-inch pieces of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp soy sauce
½ cup mirin
¼ cup pineapple juice
2 tbs water
1. Pan roast the chicken with sesame oil, ginger, and sliced garlic. When the chicken is browned, flip, turn off the heat and let the pan cool a bit.
2. Pour soy sauce, mirin, pineapple juice, and water into the pan and cover.
3. Cook on medium low heat for fifteen minutes.
4. Uncover and continue to cook for about 20 minutes until the liquid thickens into a sauce. Set aside to cool.
5. Slice the chicken using your knife or throw it into your food processor for a few pulses in a batch separate from the vegetables.

Kochujang Dressing/Fermented Hot Pepper Sauce
The best kochujang is homemade from scratch with organic ingredients, but if you don't have time, the best MSG-free store-bought brands for kochejang are O'Foods and Pulmone. Due to the nature of the fresh dressing ingredients, you require a powerful blender. One of my favorite kitchen tools is my Vita-Mix Blender because the motor is incredibly powerful, and it pulverizes my smoothies, spices, grains, and of course, dressings in mere seconds.

3 tbs kochujang, fermented hot pepper paste
2 tbs dry vermouth
2 tbs olive oil
2 large cloves fresh garlic
2 tbs freshly squeezed lemon or kalamanzi juice
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
½ Korean pear, peeled and seeded
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tbs sesame oil
1. Place all the kochujang salad dressing ingredients in your blender.
2. Blend on low before increasing to high. The resulting salad dressing should be smooth and resemble cream of tomato soup, or a reddish Thousand Island’s dressing. Let people help themselves.

Vegetable cornucopia
Most of these fresh vegetables may be purchased at your local farmer’s market. Find garland chrysanthemum (ssukgat), perilla (kkenip), and hot peppers (gochu) at your local Korean or Japanese market. You can choose between 4 different types of cucumbers- Japanese, Korean, Persian, and English. Korean oi have a pastel green hue and tend to be a bit less crisp than their forest green Japanese kyuri counterparts. Both are shorter, thinner, and crisper than the English hot house cucumber. Persian cucumbers are shorter than both Korean and Japanese cucumbers and have a thicker seed middle but not as thick as English cucumbers. For your reference, 3 kyuri = 3 oi = 4 Persian = 1 English hot house cucumber

2 cups bean sprouts
¼ purple cabbage
1 bunch garland chrysanthemum
2 bunches perilla leaves, 10-14 leaves
1 stalk green onions
2 Korean green hot peppers
1 red jalapeño pepper
5-6 young carrots
3 Japanese cucumbers
1. Wash and then pat or spin dry all of the vegetables.
2. Place the bean sprouts in a small bowl covered bowl and fridge. As you finish chopping or slicing each vegetable, refrigerate each in a small bowl to preserve freshness.
3. Slice the purple cabbage into ¼ inch thick pieces.
4. Chop the garland chrysanthemum into 1 ½ - 2 inch pieces.
5. Fold the perilla leaves over one another in a deck and snip them into 1/3 inch thick pieces.
6. Slice the green onion into thin disks.
7. Slice the Korean green hot peppers into 1/6 inch thick disks.
8. Slice the red jalapeño pepper into thin disks.
9. Insert the coarse blade into your mandolin slicer and slice your carrots evenly into ¼ inch thick strips.
10. Repeat this procedure for your cucumbers.

Time Saver: If you value time over the aesthetics or if you plan to double this recipe, throw all the vegetables one batch at a time into your food processor and pulse a few times. My Kitche nAid food processor shreds the cabbage perfectly in less than ten seconds.

Pan-Roasted Garlic Burdock
Burdock (uuong/gobo) may be found at your local Korean or Japanese grocer. Some Chinese markets also carry burdock, known as Ngau Pong in Cantonese. To pick a fresh burdock, look for obvious shriveling and then carefully inspect the density of the root at its base. Ideally, the base should be solid and have no splinters of wind tunnels. If you whip the burdock a bit, it should also have a firm resilience and not be limp.

2 whole roots of burdock (uuong/gobo)
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbs sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1. Slice the burdock into thin matchsticks using your mandolin slicer, or chop the root into 2 inch pieces and toss into a food processor.
2. Throw the sesame oil and salt in a pan over medium low heat.
3. Add the sliced burdock and 4 crushed cloves of garlic in the pan.
4. Stir fry until the burdock edges and garlic bits are a golden brown. Set aside in a small bowl.

Acorn Hut's Acorn Noodles
Try substituting acorn noodles in any recipe that calls for pasta noodles. Acorn noodles are an especially excellent alternative to soba noodles. You can try purchasing acorn noodles either at your local Korean grocer or for higher quality acorn noodles, here at Acorn Hut.

1 lb Acorn Noodles (dotori gooksoo)
1. Immerse acorn noodles in boiling water and boil for 6 minutes.
2. Rinse noodles in icy cold water and drain well.

Arranging Acorn Noodles
Arrange all of the different prepared toppings on the table and let people choose which toppings they want, or prepare each bowl separately.

Acorn noodles
Kochujang sauce
1. First, place the noodles in each bowl.
2. Pile on the toppings.
3. Allow each person to pour as much sauce as they please.

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