My Holiday break home cooking continues. Had another round of Japanese Spaghetti Naporitan because I enjoyed my last so much.(!) I also tend to like to prepare the same meal multiple times in a row until I feel I mastered it, or at least would feel comfortable making it for guests. I tend to cut down on waste that way, using up whatever specific ingredients I may had to buy, and you get yourself a merit badge sort of speak for the dish. But anyway I've talked about the quirky Naporitan on the blog time to time but in case you missed, it's a specific Japanese adapted dish of pan-fried spaghetti noodles flavored mainly with tomato ketchup.
Like any dish there are many Napo variations and styles. Many are 'wetter' and therefore much more ketchupy (like the example introduced on youtube Cooking with Dog's version of the recipe). In the end, really comes to a matter of preference but I always enjoyed more the dryer, hard pan/wok-fried style. My portable Iwatani propane burner seems to output higher heat than my natural gas stove so that's been helping out some, but eventually I'll be purchasing a true high BTU setup.
So while I may have used the word "sear" a little too often on my last post, it was my way of stressing its importance with at least this style of Napo that I prefer. Ones where the tomato based condiment (with an interesting history itself) is caramelized in the wok with high heat in a little oil and butter. While there still will be a subtle sweet edge, the heat transforms most of the sharp "ketchupy" flavor to something rounder and actually quite tasty... With a good disclaimer here that I have grown up with the dish, ha. But I did always feel the spirit of the Napo had closer ties to the Yakisoba if it helps put things in perspective.
Having said this I actually wouldn't freely recommend the particular version here to most only because it uses the Gyoniku "fish meat" sausage I mentioned last. The play-doh pink all-fish sausage has the fine texture of dense Kamaboko but seasoned and colored to resemble a hot dog wiener. The resulting Napo however is in a league of elite humbleness and exclusivity.(!?) So without further ado, let's get the party started.
[The Gyoniku Sausage. No jokes please.]
Gyoniku fish sausage is not entirely my most favorite thing in the world but it does ring some early nostalgic childhood memories. One of suspended shorts, high socks, scabbed knees and rubber soccer ball that goes *poiink* when kicked. Like most luncheon meats, not all that bad when cooked. [See first disclaimer...] It may in fact never come up again in my future posts but gosh darn it, the lunch did turn out quite good while also hitting a nice sentimental note which I can't say I'm not a sucker for.
Other ingredients were same as last. Piiman bell pepper, onions and Shimeji mushrooms. If you've noticed the thicker Spaghetti noodles I had to look around for it. Eventually found an organic private label at Whole Foods that was 2.2mm (dry). Was the closest to the thicker 2.1mm used at Naporitan mecca Shinbashi, legendary Pont Neuf (ポンヌフ) cafe. One of these days I shall visit.(!)
Next day was a redo of the Aburi Chicken Oyakodon with Gobo. I still had another good three feet of both the Gobo and Naga Negi to use up. My last tasted great, it just looked pretty dreary, so this was more a visual execution exercise for my sake. The egg-centric dish made for a nice brunch on top.
You don't have to have one of these Oyako-Nabe's but it's helpful, especially in the plating when making tamago-toji style egg-sealed donburi bowls, the rice evenly blanketed with a quick snap of the wrist. Mine is a fancy copper one (because I'm a wannabe) but inexpensive aluminum ones which are as good can be purchased at most Japanese markets, sometimes even at bargain $1.99 shops. The chicken's skin has already been grilled which is part of this Oyakodon recipe.
Btw, I completely forgot to mention previously but the technique for an evenly soft tamago-toji finish is to divide the egg pouring into two separate sets. When ready (chicken pieces cooked through), slowly pour the first half of the lightly scrambled egg starting from the inside toward the out of the pan. Cover for a moment on low to help set then add the yolkier last half to finish. Cook the eggs to desired doness, mine is always a wiggly medium rare as it should be.
I'd give it a B, B-, but this definitely looks a lot nicer than last. I feel better now, haha.
Stems of the Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) had been finely minced and sprinkled on top which gives some additional texture. The shredded Kizami Nori is optional. But I can't recommend more the grilling of the chicken's skin prior to. This Oyakodon is really great.