Recipe by Jim Dixon
Born in Medford, OR in 1953
Lives in Portland, OR
Profession: Olive oil merchant at Real Good Food
Leisure: Walk, read, go to the eastern end of the Gorge
Word of the day: Tasty
Childhood cuisine: Small town American
Fermented black beans are little wrinkled nuggets of extreme flavor. There are few ingredients that so easily bring depth and deliciousness to food, and they last forever in the pantry. Jim Dixon is one of our favorite arbiters of taste. His word on ingredients is gospel. So go get some of these fermented beans at an Asian market today!
Active Time: 25 minutes | Easy | 3 servings
1/2 cup fermented black beans
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sake or dry white wine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup dashi* or water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and stems), with another 1/4 cup of leaves for garnish
Asian-style chile paste such as Heavenly Chef or Sambal Oelek (optional, but strongly recommended)
1 package (12 ounces) Umi Organic ramen noodles
1. Process the beans in a food processor or blender until broken up, or chop them up with a heavy chef's knife.
2. In a heavy pot over medium heat, cook the ginger and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, taking care not to let the garlic brown. Add the beans and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the flour and stir to mix completely. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the sake, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Mix well, then add the dashi or water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, and cook until the sauce thickens. Add more water or dashi if the sauce is too thick.
4. Remove sauce from heat and stir in the chopped cilantro. Add a spoonful of chile paste to match your heat tolerance, or serve it at the table if you have any capsaicin-averse diners (I’m looking at you, Mom).
5. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Gently pull apart and fluff noodles. Add noodles to water and boil 2 minutes, stirring often. Drain the noodles but reserve some of the cooking water (I just hold the noodles back with tongs and slowly drain from the pot without a colander).
6. Toss the noodles with the sauce, adding a splash of the cooking water. Top with a pinch of cilantro leaves.
*To make dashi: Heat 2 cups of water until small bubbles form. Remove from the heat and add a 4 inch piece of kombu (dried kelp) and a half-cup-packed dried bonito flakes. Let the kombu soak for about 15 minutes. Drain but don’t squeeze the kombu and bonito. (Do freeze the kombu and bonito in a zip lock for another batch). Store the dashi in the refrigerator. Will stay fresh for a week.
Photos by Shawn Linehan.