Monday, January 16, 2023

Mighty Joyoung to the Rescue II: Out of the Box and Into the Bowl

"Lion's Head" Meatballs by Ju Ju

"But it's made in China," said my Chef-partner Ju Ju (who also was made in China) when we unboxed "her" pricey Christmas present.

"Where else," I retorted, "would you look for a 'military grade' Chinese noodlemaker but China?" Joyoung (Chinese name 九阳, more correctly transliterated as "Jiu Yang") is a dominant brand in home noodle makers, rice cookers, soy milk makers (including a $400 model), instant cookers, etc. throughout Asia.  As I mentioned previously, I am lazy, and its main attraction to me was the degree of automation: water in one container, flour in another, push a few buttons and voila! noodles to eat. About the only thing that isn't automated is the cutting of the noodles. Have your kitchen shears nearby so you can snip the noodles at desired length as they come out of the extruder or you may end up with 10' long noodles (which might be appropriate for my next birthday). Easy to clean? I'm not sure if the brochure claims it is (they usually do), but I leave that to my partner, who doesn't trust my degree of fastidiousness. Mind you, you can't avoid some sticky dough clinging to various parts as you disassemble the business end of the machine. (Note that there is a "Clean" button on the console, but it refers only to cleaning the nozzle that distributes the water.)

A couple of caveats here: as implied, one of the most desirable features of the machine's degree of automation it its ability to precisely calculate the amount and timing and infusion of water in the dough making. It does this by weighing the flour on a built-in scale, so be sure to press the "Reset" button to zero the scale first. Also, when you select your noodle type, you'll probably want to press it twice for "Chewy Noodles." The single-press "Fast Noodles" seems to be desirable only if you plan to use them immediately. The "fast" noodles do not store well, caking under their own weight, while the "chewy" noodles refrigerate well and freeze well. The "Chewy Noodle" mode adds a rest period for the dough (indicated as "Rise" even though no leavening is involved).

The photo at the top of this entry features a soup made by Ju Ju using noodles made with Mighty Joyoung's Udon ("spaghetti") noodle setting that were subsequently frozen.

So who is Mighty Joe Young?

Mighty Joe Young was the chimpanzee hero  of the movie of the same name. my generation's answer to King Kong.

Mighty Joe Young is a 1949 American black and white fantasy film distributed by RKO Radio Pictures and produced by the same creative team responsible for King Kong (1933). Produced by Merian C. Cooper, who wrote the story, and Ruth Rose, who wrote the screenplay, the film was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and stars Robert Armstrong (who appears in both films), Terry Moore, and Ben Johnson in his first credited screen role. Animation effects were handled by Ray Harryhausen, Pete Peterson and Marcel Delgado.[3][4]

Mighty Joe Young tells the story of a young woman, Jill Young, living on her father's ranch in Africa, who has raised the title character, a large gorilla, from an infant and year s later brings him to Hollywood seeking her fortune in order to save the family homestead.  [Wikipedia]

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Make My Own Noodles? Mighty Joyoung to the Rescue....

....of this blog.  About three years ago, due to mobility issues, subsequently magnified by COVID-19 protocols, I put this blog in hiatus, since I was unable to continue the field work of seeking out the latest and greatest noshes that formed the core of Full Noodle Frontity's purpose at the time. But noodles have never left my mind nor my belly, with Mrs. Soup making life easier for herself and more pleasant for me by serving up her version of yangchun noodles, plain Shanghai-style noodles with (typically) "old hen' broth and toppings of the day about three times a week. On my back burners has long been the need (obligation?) to get more into the weeds of noodle manufacturing and variants, rather than just savoring preparations to slurp into my belly. I also have compiled info to share on obscure regional specialties which might end up deep in your Asian noodle bucket list. Where in China would you go for a cold "chitlin'-like" rice noodle dish? What and where are "Ba River" noodles?

Mrs. Soup's DIY soup dumplings
Another trigger for my foray into noodle-making has been Mrs. Soup's recently developed passion for DIY making of more substantial Chinese wheatens, progressing from crafting plain mantou to stuffed baozi, even fearlessly venturing into the intricacies of xiaolong bao and shengjian bao with surprisingly good results.

If Mrs. Soup could make elegant versions at home of the dumpling delicacies that would cost us substantially more hard cash at the markets and restaurants, why were we still using store-bought versions of the humble noodles in our soup bowls? Thus my logic for springing for a good noodle-making machine.

Christmas was  coming, and I wasted no time in researching noodle-making machines. I wanted an extrusion machine, not one that jut cut the noodles from pre-rolled dough.  Home extrusion noodle machines range from approximately $90 to $300 depending on quality, capacity and degree of automation.  Since the Christmas present was as much for me as for Ju Ju, I opted for the most automated (hence most expensive) version. When it comes down to it, I am lazy, and really didn't want to take myself beyond a couple of artisanal button pushes to make a nice batch of fresh noodles. Find out what I  came up with in my next post.

Upcoming: make, capabilities and first results of my Mighty Joyoung noodle maker, as well as an explanation of my nickname for my new best friend, for those of you too young to get it.

We're baaaaack!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles -- A Parable of Obsession

Ramen may not be the noblest of noodle soups, as I'm never shy about opining, but I have to admit it's got a lore you can't ignore -- and I am not immune. I've got a duly purchased copy of the landmark movie Tampopo, several ramen-themed T-shirts including four from Uniqlo's recent line, and I recently subscribed to Crunchyroll for long enough to keep up with an anime series about ramen love.

The series in question, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles (Rāmen Daisuki Koizumi-san) is about a mysterious and beautiful transfer student at a Tokyo high school who attracts the attention of her peers, especially other girls (boys apparently feel intimidated by her). Koizumi-san (her given name is never revealed) is very distant, one might even think autistic, and shuns all social contacts except in the context of eating ramen. She rebuffs all solicitations of friendship or companionship, though when the rquest is to follow her into the ramen shop she is headed to at the moment, she responds with "I don't care" or "Do what you like."  Once seated at a ramen bar, however, she will sort of open up, robotically spouting her vast knowledge of ramen styles, ramen ingredients, and ramen shops.

The main problem with the series is that there is no real plot.  There is a glimmer of hope for one, halfway through the series when the boyish Yuu, who has a mad girl crush on Ms. Koizumi, finds her fainted on the street from hunger while waiting for a ramen shop to open. Yuu carries Koizumi-san to her apartment and revives her by cooking a variety of ramen-like soups of her own creation for her. Ms. Koiozumi expresses her admiration for Yuu's creativity, and we hope for a romance to blossom, but no such luck. Once her ramen withdrawal pains are gone, she becomes the ice queen once again.

What you will find in this series is what amonts to an animated tutorial on the state of ramen in Japan today, tailored to novice and intermediate ramen-heads alike.  How about some euglena ramen? Or ramen that has a blizzard of fat back shaved into it?

 You can now watch the entire series for free on Crunchyroll, There are three segments to each half-hour episode, so you may find as many as three different ramen styles covered in a single episode.  The list of episodes will give you an idea of what you are in for:

  • Episode 1 – Garlic With Extra Vegetables / Maayu / Rich 
  • Episode 2 – Hokkyoku / K-K-K-K-Koizumi-san 
  • Episode 3 – Saimin / Flavor Concentration Counter / Instant Noodles 
  • Episode 4 – Western Restaurant / Red or White / Convenience Store 
  • Episode 5 – Tomato Ramen / Euglena / Huge Line 
  • Episode 6 – Morning Ramen / Hiyashi / Museum 
  • Episode 7 – Nationwide 
  • Episode 8 – Local Instant Noodles / Iekei 
  • Episode 9 – Mountain / Pork Guy / Back Fat 
  • Episode 10 – Ramen With Unknown Flavor / Conveyor Belt Ramen / Accepting Challenge 
  • Episode 11 – Tasty Ramen / Osaka 
  • Episode 12 – Nagoya / Reunion 

I once read of a (possibly apocryphal) Japanese proverb thst reads "People suffering from the same disease have much to talk about."  Whoever penned that may have had rameniacs in mind.