Feel good comfort food made easy at home after a long day
In The Dominion Post’s ongoing Wednesday feature, Quarantine Kitchen, we highlight dishes prepared by readers, staffers and chefs at our local restaurants, in an effort to keep us connected through food.
And while many of those dishes have been impressive undertakings — homemade sourdough, slow-cooked ribs, dinner rolls and cinnamon buns — today we’re sharing a dish that makes the most out of some easy, ready-made pantry staples by taking them up a notch.
By using a couple simple convenience foods — miso soup mix, frozen or shelf-stable udon noodles — and adding some extras, you can manage to serve a satisfying meal with minimal effort — perfect after working long hours from home.
At our house, that means a bit of sauteed seitan, some sliced mushrooms; a couple farm-fresh, local eggs; a few chopped scallions and a smattering of torn nori for a bowl of goodness to rival your favorite takeout.
The seitan we buy (Sweet Earth brand, traditional flavor) is pre-seasoned, so we simply saute it with some mushrooms and a splash of soy sauce until it gets a nice, caramelized sear. Then we add a bit of freshly cracked pepper.
For those who are unfamiliar, seitan is a meat substitute made from gluten. It can be found in the refrigerated vegetarian/vegan section in most markets.
If you prefer, tofu would work well, too — just be sure to press it well before cubing and sauteing, to get the excess moisture out.
The eggs can be boiled to whatever doneness you prefer — a nice medium does the trick here, to keep the yolk soft but not running full tilt into your soup.
For a perfect medium, place your eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, then back the heat down to maintain a slight simmer for about 7 minutes. Transfer the eggs immediately to ice-cold water. When they’re cool enough, go ahead and peel them, halve lengthwise and plop them right in.
If you prefer a softer yolk, reduce your simmer time by about a minute and a half. For a hard boiled egg, increase it by a couple minutes.
Honesty, we’ve tried them at every stage and it’s tasty either way. But the medium is our favorite.
The scallions add a bit of freshness and perfect little crunch.
Sure, the meal is far from homemade, but it beats the heck out of a ramen packet or can of Campbell’s on those nights when you’re tired and just want a bowl of comfort that doesn’t take an hour (or hours) to prepare.
As with most things, a few drops of hot sauce on top won’t go amiss.
UBER UDON AKA DOCTORED PANTRY UDON
- Shelf-stable or frozen udon noodles (use the corresponding number of packs to the number of servings you need)
- One packet each miso soup mix, per serving needed
- Eggs, one per person
- Several scallions, chopped/sliced
- Dried nori (seaweed sheets)
- 8 ounces seitan
- Soy sauce
- Mushrooms (however many you think will feed everyone, remember they shrink when you cook them)
- Hot sauce, optional
In a large pan, saute seitan (most comes pre-sliced, if not, slice into inch-long strips) and mushrooms with a splash of soy sauce (reduced sodium, if you’ve got it) — no need to season with salt, either, as the miso, soy sauce and seitan all have a good bit of sodium already. Once the mushrooms and seitan have a nice, caramelized sear, remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare your eggs according to the consistency you like (see story for suggested cook times).
Once properly cooled in ice water, slice your eggs lengthwise.
Prepare miso soup and udon noodles according to package directions.
Combine noodles and broth into bowls, add in some of the seitan and mushroom mixture, tear in some nori (it will soften in the hot broth) and top with egg halves and scallions.