Act 2. Because we grilledan extra pork tenderloin the night before, we get to, or should I say the family gets to make a meal that falls somewhere between a chinese hot pot and a Japanese ramen noodle dish. Wait until you see how our cup ‘o vegetables put cup o’ noodles to shame.

This inspiration goes back to Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, where we found a tiny food stall barely visible through the long line of devoted morning diners who awaited the one dish served by the renowned ramen pork noodle king. He darted from broth pot to noodle colander to pork cutting board, assembling each serving without ever looking up. I ate my breakfast noodles standing on the curb next to moving traffic and leaning over a rusted bicycle (rusted from noodle broth I slopped around, yeah?). I yanked up those firm noodles with chopsticks, biting off where I could and I drank from the bowl like it was holy water. Slurping was allowed, no encouraged, in Japan. Ten yearolds boys and eighty yearold dads welcome.

The coolest thing about this meal is that the advanced prep makes dinnertime a snap. Start with a good assortment of vegetables that need little cooking. I sliced some of the vegetables very thinly so they cooked in the bowl of boiling hot stock. The others – asparagus, peapods, broccoli, red pepper, and bok choy (and you’re thinking at this point, if these are the others how many vegetables are involved here) -I parboiled for two minutes then, plunged them into an ice bath to halt the cooking.

Regrettably, not all members of my family like the same vegetables; yours are probably the same unless you have mastered the art of force-feeding. And if you have, please tell us all your secrets. My kids, I suspect on purpose, are the yin and yang of food preferences – what he likes, she doesn’t. So, I one upped (or one cupped them) them with a huge vegetable assortment that no one could deny and no one did.

The deal was that they could choose any vegetable mixture they wanted as long as it was one cup’s worth. It worked like a charm because the kids focused more on filling the cup and not thinking about eating vegetables. What we won’t do to get a little green in their diet!

The broth here was nearly instant. Using two boxes of my favorite chicken stock, I heated it with some peeled thick slices of fresh ginger and about a teaspoon of red pepper chili flakes.

A moment about stock versus broth…if one must go the store-bought route and most of us in crunchtime mode do, then I suggest stock instead of broth. The flavor of the chicken or vegetables of beef with stock will not be masked by ungodly amounts of salt often found in broth. I have tasted nearly all pre-packaged stocks and broths and I prefer the Wolfgang Puck organic the best for flavor, for its low-salt taste (although it does not indicate LS on the label), and that it’s organic free-range and all those words that make me feel better about my purchase. I suggest low-salt if you can find it, because you should be in charge of seasoning foods to your taste or to your health requirements, not the food producer.

Noodling about the noodles? There are many noodle options here including not using any at all. Most types of noodles from the Asian food isle or freezer section (if you’re west coast) or Little Tokyo (if you’re super lucky) will do – from ramen to rice to udon. Pasta is also a fine choice and, if you’re desperate and in college, some ramen noodles from the 2¢ package works as well; just omit the seasoning.

Slurp it up!!!

[recipe]

ramen vegetable and pork tenderloin, slurping welcome

preptime: 15-20 minutes serves: 4

cooktime: 5 minutes to concoct, 15-20 minutes to cook unattended

4-6 cups of the following vegetables:

thin asparagus spears

broccoli spears

peapods

bok choy, sliced 1/2″ crosswise

red pepper, thinly sliced

mushrooms, very thinly sliced

green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 lb noodles – depending on the noodle you use, 1/2 cup cooked per serving

2 32-oz containers of chicken stock

1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 4 pieces

1/2 to 1 t. of red pepper chili flakes (adjust to taste)

1/2 lb grilled pork tenderloin – see here for cooking instructions

do-aheads:

  1. Parboil harder vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, red pepper, bok choy. Bring salted water to boil. Add the vegetables and cook two minutes. Remove and immediately plunge into ice bath (water with ice cubes in bowl) to stop the cooking. When vegetables are cool – 1-3 minutes, remove from water and let drain.
  2. Arrange vegetables on the serving platter with a one cup measuring cup.
  3. Cook noodles nearly finished, al dente state, drain and save.
  4. Slice pork tenderloin and place on serving platter.

mealtime:

  1. Heat stock in pan with ginger and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then simmer, then bring back to a boil to serve. Remember, the room temp. vegetables will cool off the broth.
  2. Ladle boiling broth into serving bowls. Add in noodles and serve.
  3. At the table, diners will add vegetables to their soup and top with sliced tenderloin.

recipe provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

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