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Late Nite Adobo

Typing out thoughts on a website… when the cravings hit you in the late nite…

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Chicago, IL 60654

Talking about your favorite soup is like talking about politics; there are no winners. Heated debates on pho, bun bo hue, Taiwanese beef noodle soup, sinigang, Mom’s chicken noodle soup (i.e., Campbell’s), etc. can go on for days and days. Nevertheless, with chilly weather on the horizon, it’s time to lower your chopsticks from combat position, sit down with your favorite bowl of whatever soup you love, and get slurping!

I’m embarrassed to say that my experience with ramen is mostly of the instant variety. Maruchan, Ichiban, Top Ramen – along with Optimus Prime and He-Man – were allies in my childhood battle against brisk weather. The one real bowl of ramen I had was from Mr. Ramen in L.A., and the only thing I remember was the pressure of trying to get an ear-piercingly loud slurp going because that’s what I saw on TV. And most other ramen places that I’ve come across have had crazy long waits that made quick Pho stops a more attractive alternative.

Fast-forward to a rainy, cold day in Chicago, which led me to The Slurping Turtle – Chef Yagihashi Takashi’s take on Japanese comfort food, and purveyor of ramen. Could this be fate?

Tan Tan

Tan Tan Ramen (Fall in love all over again)

With my limited experience, I’m not sure what constitutes a good bowl of ramen. Generally, if food is tasty and pleasing to my senses (or any extraordinary spidey/umami senses I may have), it’s good to me. The ramen must have fit that criteria, since I finished the whole bowl in record time. I had the Tan Tan Men Ramen, and the Tonkotsu.

The Tan Tan was just a’ight. It wasn’t too spicy, and the flavors were really subtle compared to the salty, rich broth of the Tonkotsu. Each were good on their own merits, but I prefer the heartier, stick-to-your-ribs Tonkotsu. The only thing I “ragret” is not getting a poached egg…on account of my pro-eggy stance on life…

Tonkotsu

Tonkotsu (Uh-huh)

I’m gonna take the easy way out and say that I crave certain soups at different times. A gigantic bowl of BBH or pho hits the spot when I have an equally gigantic hangover. On the other hand, a warm, loving bowl of arroz caldo at my parent’s house has a soft spot in my heart feels. While my curiosity has come up a little late, my obsession for trying more and more authentic ramen is rising quickly. I won’t rest until I’m slurping at a bare minimum 12th grade level. Get your ear plugs ready!

So as I raise my soup spoon in battle-ready mode, I ask you the reader: What’s your favorite soup to combat the chilly weather?

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Filipino adobo is not to be confused with the Goya spice blend seen in commercials, or the bad guy from Double Dragon, or Adobe-style architecture. While it does have Spanish roots, the Filipino version evolved into it’s own thing. For the most part, the basic building blocks of adobo sauce are vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. From there, anything can be adoboed: veggies, eggs, fish, chicken, pork, unicorn…the only limits are your imagination!

There are numerous variations of adobo in the Philippines based on region. The 2 recipes I tried are a “traditional” prep with chicken thighs, and a Luzon-style prep with chicken wings and coconut milk.

This traditional adobo recipe was simple to cook, with the hardest part being the prep work of cutting the chicken and mincing up the garlic cloves. I asked friends and family beforehand for some tips and tricks, and I quickly realized there’s no easy “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start” cheat code for cooking adobo. Everyone cooks it somewhat differently, and everyone has a variation on the Golden Ratio of soy sauce-to-vinegar. Chicken Adobo

Nevertheless, I simmered away, permeating my apartment with the sweet sweet smells of garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. 45 mins or so, I was the proud daddy of a decently delicious chicken adobo. It was a little on the salty side, which I prefer to an overly tangy/vinegary sauce. The only caveat to the saltiness is that I usually end up eating a family-sized portion of rice…Oh, and there’s that high-blood pressure thing too. (Just make sure to get the defibrillator ready after you turn on the rice cooker.)

The recipe for this fancier chicken adobo was passed on to me from a NY Times article. Lets just say the final results were worth all of the skepticism that came with getting a recipe from the NY Times. From marinating, to simmering, to broiling the chicken to get a nice golden brown color, there was a good amount of labor involved compared to my previous experience cooking adobo. But even with a shit ton of dishes to wash after all of the extra steps, my hard work payed off and I was rewarded with a beautifully balanced, tangy, salty, sweet chicken adobo! The coconut milk does an awesome job balancing the flavors and adds a nice creaminess to the sauce, while the chilies give it a spicy punch. S-u-c-c-e-s-s! Adobong gata sa manok

Adobo is one of those simple comfort food dishes that’s an icon of every Filipino childhood. Along with rice, this meal hits the spot every time I have a craving for home cooking – whether it’s in the middle of the day, or late at night after stumbling home drunk at 2a.m. (Nothing good ever happens after 2a.m…with the exception of late night adobo…)

Morning, noon or night, what’s a dish you grew up with that absolutely hits the spot like nothing else?

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by Bananaketchup

 

Sloppy Joes and tater tots. Not really gourmet-level cooking, but more like a single guy’s desperate scramble for instant sustenance on a lonely Tuesday night.

Step 1: Brown ground beef in a skillet.
Step 2: Add canned Manwich sauce.
Step 3: Throw the mixture onto a toasted bun.
Step 4: Pair with some frozen tots that were tossed in the oven for a few minutes.
Step 5: Enjoy eating while watching reruns of Saved by the Bell.

sloppy-joe

Sometimes certain foods that we haven’t eaten in over a decade don’t quite taste as good as we remember. In this case of semi-homemade cooking, the end result is a surprisingly tasty sloppy joe sandwich and tots combo that even Sandra Lee would be proud of.

Beneath the surface of the zesty robustness: Nostalgia. There was something so wholesome regressing into a child-like state of simplicity. Plastic trays, chocolate milk boxes, lunch ladies with clichéd facial moles and standard regulation hairnets, multipurpose rooms filled with good friends and silly conversations…For a brief moment, I felt genuinely happy; raw and unaware of all of the B.S. dramas that seem to punctuate life as a grown-up. Without knowing, my quickie dinner had become comfort food at its finest, taking me on an impromptu visit to lunch lady land that I honestly didn’t mind at all.

Beefaroni, Lunchables, Handi-snacks, twinkies…what nostalgic foods do you remember eating as a kid remind you of your childhood?

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