Two Years Ago: Italian Sausage Soup
I love ramen noodles because I love all things pasta, but ramen has the additional benefit of all those fun curls. Plus, it's cheap, easy to cook, and a perfect blank canvas for nearly any sauce and ingredients. This particular recipe is sort of an American-Asian mashup of ingredients much like you'd find at a good food truck - good old American bacon pairs up with the typical Asian flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, shiitake mushrooms, red bell pepper and shrimp for an absolutely delicious result. Of course, if you want to make it a little lighter you could leave out the bacon but it really added that little extra something. I adapted it from a recipe that called for a lot of special Asian ingredients and substituted readily-available ingredients instead.
I love my serrated grater for making the thinnest carrot strips, but if you don't have one (hint: Bed, Bath and Beyond) just cut them as thin as you can. The benefit to having long thin strips is that after they're briefly sauteed they soften a little and start to mimic the noodles in shape and twirl-ability.
Start by doing all your prep, of course, including the shrimp - peel and devein them, take off the tail shells, then cut them through the back all the way down to (but not through) the tail to butterfly them open. That does two things: it allows them to cook faster and more evenly, plus they curl into the coolest shapes as they cook. Very fancy.
When everything is ready, cook the bacon while you're cooking the ramen noodles. Use half the bacon fat to cook the shrimp and vegetables, then use the other half to briefly fry the noodles to make them a little crispy. Toss everything with the sauce until it's absorbed, and you're done - very fast and easy. And again, if you don't want to include the bacon, just use a little peanut oil instead. You could also skip the step of frying the noodles to cut down on fat and calories - the noodles will just be a little softer.
I would put this up against your favorite food truck food any day, plus you get to eat it piping hot at home whenever you want.
Shrimp and Bacon Ramen
For the sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
For the ramen:
4 (3 ounce) packages ramen noodles
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 strips of bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
12-14 ounces large shrimp (about 4 per person), peeled and deveined, tails removed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks (or julienned)
1 tablespoon peanut or olive oil
6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed, and sliced
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
For the sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise almost to the tail end (but not cut in half completely).
For the noodles: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles until just barely cooked according to package directions (they will cook more later). Drain and rinse with cold water. Using a kitchen shears, cut the noodles into approximately 8-inch lengths. Toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove and reserve half of the bacon drippings in a small bowl for later. Re-heat the remaining bacon drippings over medium heat, then add the shrimp to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté, turning occasionally, until the shrimp are curled and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add a tablespoon of oil to the same pan and place over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red pepper and carrots and sauté for additional minute or two, then add the green onions and sauté for 30 seconds. Remove to a large bowl.
Add the remaining bacon fat to the pan and heat to medium-high. Add the noodles and cook, stirring minimally, until the noodles are crispy and charred in places, about 3 minutes.
Add the noodles to the bowl with the mushrooms, green onions, red pepper, and carrots. Add the sauce and toss again. Divide among bowls, then top with shrimp and bacon. Garnish with sesame seeds, optional.