The Out Of Place White Girl.

What do you do when your Chinese husband isn’t feeling so great and wants the food that makes him feel better? I offered chicken and dumplings and orange juice, but apparently that’s not it. He wanted noodles. I only had your typical, white girl noodles in the house. I had egg noodles, spaghetti, and rotini available. NO yat gaw mein, chow fun, soba, or mei fun.

This led me to hoof it to the UBER-Chinese grocery store near my house. This isn’t some big and fancy Asian supermarket that the hipsters go to in order to feel “authentic.” This place is a tiny neighborhood joint where not even the kids speak English. I walked in and they stared at me like they’d just spotted a unicorn. It wasn’t because they didn’t want me to shop there, they were just surprised as hell.

The only Cantonese words I know are “Do you speak English?” “Where is the bathroom?” several swear words, and names of foods. Particularly-dim sum. I was able to find pork chops, soba noodles, dried shitake, longan, soy milk, and chrysanthemum tea. Thank goodness. If I couldn’t, I’d at least be able to swear about it.

I was pleased to note that the same thing that happens at mega chains with city dads happens at tiny ass Chinese/Hainanese supermarkets. Apparently, it was the time where all the moms sent all the dads to the store with the kids. It was a rousing chorus of “BABA, Baba, BAAAAABAAAAA” followed by an “AYE YAH!” and the Babas looking at two, nearly identical items in their hands, deciding which to get. You could see the inner dialogue. “If I eff this up, I am in deep sh*t.” It’s nice to see that even in what is considered a very “paternalistic” culture, the women are still the boss at home. Awesome.

I came home and made a simple soy ginger noodle dish with shitake mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, red pepper flake, and garlic. It was delicious.

Ginger Garlic Soy Noodles

serves 4

  • 8 oz soba noodles, cooked to al dente
  • 4 oz dried shitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • 2 t chopped ginger
  • 1 T reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 t lower sodium oyster sauce
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 t red pepper flake

Bring 6 cups of water to a simmer, add dried shitake mushrooms, let sit in simmering water for 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms and reserve water. Boil soba IN the water you used to re-hydrate the mushrooms until al dente. Chop all of the veg into strips, including the shitakes. In a skillet heated to medium high, add canola oil. When canola oil is hot, add garlic and ginger. Stir in remaining vegetables. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce to vegetables. Strain noodles reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Toss noodles in skillet with vegetables and add pasta water. Serve hot. (This doesn’t mean your husband won’t eat the leftovers straight out of the fridge.

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