Shiitake and Leek Noodles
THE ALMOST CARBONARA. THE ALMOST ASIAN NOODLE BOWL. AND THE ALMOST VEGETARIAN DISH.
I know right? Talking about having an identity crisis 😀 Well this dish I concoct, my friend, is worth a try. Why? Because it’s made with love. What?! It is… AND this meal is inspired by pasta carbonara. Did I pique your interest now?
I love pasta carbonara. It’s creamy, rich and downright naughty: bacon, egg, and lots of cheese… Should I say more? However, I love it for its simplicity and the comfort it brings. It is such a brilliant peasant food. All you need is only a few staple ingredients and a darn good technique to whip it out correctly. So last night, I wanted to make some for dinner. It was cold outside – snowing in fact – so why not find warmth in a bowl of simple pasta noodles and their naughty friends?
Until… I opened my fridge. In my ‘vegetable crisper’ basket relaxedly laying tightly saran-wrapped shiitake mushrooms & a couple of big fat leeks I got from the market just the day before! Well, I immediately took a detour. I need to make use of this beautiful produce! Let’s cook an Italian-infused, Asian-noodle dish. Does that even make sense? OK don’t answer.
And then I ran to my pantry. Well, I walked to my pantry, which is exactly 2 steps from where my fridge stands. I took out my latest obsession: Chinese style dry noodles.
Then, I grabbed a piece of paper. Writing down what was “impulsively” drummed up in my head. I grabbed bacon next. Bacon must be in the mix. And what else to add in there that’s barely present in any Asian meal?: Cheese. Make it pecorino-romano. Yes!!! I was ready to cook 🙂
So, here it is guys. Shiitake and leek noodles. It’s different and borderline crazy. But seriously, super comforting! How should I describe this dish? Well, think it like your eccentric college roommate. Can you visualize it now?
You will taste the blissful flavor of bacon, quietly layered with the meatiness, umami-packed shiitake mushrooms and the subtle onion-like taste of the leeks. All warmly hugged by the substantial, al dente noodles. Ahhh…You can top this off with a light sprinkle of pecorino-romano cheese that adds nuttiness to the meal, or… for a healthier route, sprinkle some fresh cilantro leaves. Either way it’s a winner.
- 1 pound dried Chinese style dry noodle
- 8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped (yielding about ½ cup of bacon grease)
- 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
- 2 to 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned, patted dry and thinly sliced
- 8 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup light sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
- Freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese, to sprinkle (optional)
- Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, to sprinkle (optional)
- Boil a big pot of water to cook the noodles in. Meanwhile, in a hot heavy bottom skillet, over medium high heat, add chopped bacon and drizzle the oil over to give it some encouragement (I'm definitely channeling the great chef Anne Burrell here :) Cook until fat is rendered and bacon is brown and crispy. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon, drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Reduce the heat to low, add leeks and mushrooms to the bacon grease and cook until they're nice and soft, approximately 6-8 minutes. And then add garlic.
- Check to see if your water is boiling. Add salt to the boiling water and then noodles. Cook noodles according to the package instruction until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Rinse noodles with cold tap water. Set aside.
- Add soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to the leek mixture. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Add the noodles, then add bacon back to the skillet. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with pecorino-romano, or cilantro, or both :) Serve immediately.