I got yer fusion, right here!

October 6, 2009

First Tuesday or the month, and that means it’s time for Michelle’s Tight Ass Tuesday competition over at http://www.Thursdaynightsmackdown.com.

This month’s challenge: Fusion cooking. Combine two disparate cuisines, the disparate-er the better, in a single under-five-bucks dinner.

I give you: Udon carbonara with honey-miso roasted vegetables!

OK, my plating skills aren't up to par. But look at the veggies cozying up to the noodles. If I'd'a had some bratwurst, we'd have had the Axis powers.

OK, my plating skills aren't up to par. But look at the veggies cozying up to the noodles. If I'd'a had some bratwurst, we'd have had the Axis powers.

I can now testify that the Japanese and the Italians, as interpreted by a Southern cook, get along pretty well.

Confession: This is the first time in my not-so-young life I’ve made any sort of pasta alla carbonara. Be assured it will not be the last. What a go-to dish — you always have the ingredients on hand, it’s quick, and damn, it’s good! And the veggies will be making a reappearance on my menus as well; even  Child C liked them.

In any event, I’d been pondering on what I could do for the Smackdown this month, as I didn’t participate last month. I’d settled on some kind of carbonara, because it’s cheap. So what was I going to fuse carbonara with?

I was sorting through the pantry looking for something and came across a bag of udon noodles I’d picked up at the Asian market God-knows-when. OK, I can fuse that. But that’s kinda wimpy; I mean, pasta’s pasta, right? What else can I come up with that’s Japanese to go with this?

I considered steaming and shelling some edamame and stirring in, but that didn’t sound particularly good. And then I was browsing at the Culinary District t’other day, and saw miso paste. It put me in mind of a post on the Alchemist blog about eggplant roasted in a honey-miso glaze. That was all it took.

The carbonara was a fairly simple operation, albeit it takes two pans and a mixing bowl, which puts it over my dirty-dish preferred limit, but I’ve decided it was worth it. I also have to work on the timing to get stuff done at the same time; my bacon was done before my pasta was.

Here’s my recipe:

  • A handful of udon noodles (I’m going to guess 4 ounces, although I wouldn’t bet on it)
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • an egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (maybe a half-ounce?)
  • water and salt
  • parsley

Put salted water on to boil. Dice bacon and saute until it’s crisp; throw the garlic in at the last minute. Leave it in the pan and keep it warm while the noodles are boiling. Grate the cheese. Beat the egg and then add the cheese and beat again.  When pasta is al dente, drain it (reserve some cooking liquid in case you need to thin the sauce); put it back in the pot, and pour the bacon and drippings over it; toss. Add the egg/cheese mixture, and stir/toss until each noodle is nicely coated; the hot pasta will cook the eggs and melt the cheese.  Garnish with parsley if you have a notion.

Damn, folks, that’s GOOD! I don’t know what I’d expected it to taste like….but it’s just a nice, creamy, cheesy sauce. I didn’t need the pasta water. I would have liked to have had a good crusty bread to sop up the leftover sauce.

The veggies were a treat, too. I chopped up a medium zucchini, two small yellow squash, and a medium eggplant into about 1-inch dice.  The glaze:

  • 2 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/4 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1 tbsp rice wine or rice wine vinegar

Stir all that up into a glaze, toss your diced veggies with it, and roast on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for about how long it takes you from the get-go to make the carbonara. 20 minutes, maybe?

This dinner fed 2, and we have one good serving of veggies left. The tally:

I have no clue how much the noodles were, as it was months ago when I bought them, but I found ’em on the Web for $2.36 for an 8-0z package and I used 4 ounces, more or less. Let’s say $1.20. An egg, 10 cents.  A half-ounce of parmigiano, 50 cents. 2 strips of bacon, 20 cents. Garlic, pantry staple, so $2.00  for that piece of dinner.

A zucchini, 35 cents; two small yellow squash, 25 cents; an eggplant, 50 cents. The honey was free (it’s really a pantry staple, but this particular jar was a gift). Miso paste was $6 for a sizeable tub, so I’m going to say 75 cents for my two tablespoons.  Ginger, garlic and wasabi powder, as well as rice wine, pantry staples. So $1.85 for the veggies.

A grand total of $3.85 for this fused dinner, or $1.92 1/2  per serving. I’m content.

And I like it a lot better than my original idea of stirring black beans and corn and peppers into the carbonara and making it Mexican. Shudder.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em check out all the budget meals at http://www.Thursdaynightsmackdown.com this weekend, when Michelle gets around to posting them.

2 Responses to “I got yer fusion, right here!”

  1. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Note: I cannot do math. I have corrected the total. I was off 15 cents.

  2. Len Cleavelin Says:

    I know it’s not on hand, and I don’t know if it’d blown your budget, but all the “real” carbonara I’ve had (on The Hill, so you know it’s genuine) used prosciutto (sp?) vice bacon.

    Gives you something to shoot for. 🙂
    Prosciutto, or pancetta?

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