My husband had a tummyache this week. I wanted to make him something comforting so off I went to the store for applesauce and bananas and ginger and Gatorade and squooshy bread. (And, of course, the pink stuff.) Yesterday, he had recovered enough to adventure back into the world real food. And since we’ve just returned from backpacking in the Tetons, I was ready to get back into the kitchen. Boiling water for freeze-dried pouches is not cooking.
I started with udon noodles. The fat, pillowy noodles appeal to all tummies, especially recovering ones. (I use frozen udon from a local Japanese market. They're fatter and fluffier than the dried ones you cook in boiling water. You can defrost these in the microwave briefly and then pour your broth right over them. Almost instant.)
Add a little chicken, a lot of ginger, some onion, garlic and a splash of fish sauce for body. And finally, some bok choy, to make it interesting. He said he was up to it. On a normal day, this might benefit from a pinch of hot pepper flakes to give it a little kick. But this way it’s very smooth and soothing with just enough structure.
As a little bonus treat and to continue our ginger theme, I made pear and ginger crisp from Eric Gower’s The Breakaway Cook. It’s the ultimate in comfort food. Soft, smooth pears with ginger and little maple syrup. “It’s good on a lot of different levels,” the hubby said. So true. It’s so good you want to crawl in the pan and roll around in it. As it bakes in the oven, you’re drawn to the kitchen, standing at the oven window, wanting it to be ready now. “Do we have to wait for it to cool?” he said as soon as it came out of the oven. Then there’s the juice in the bottom of the pan. It’s pure pear heaven. I have a few ingredient crushes and pears are high on the list. This is one of the reasons why. (David Lebovitz pear caramel ice cream and King’s Cupboard’s pear caramel sauce are two of the other reasons.)
So if you’re tummy needs some soothing or if you’ve just had a bumpy day, this is your meal.
Ginger Chicken Udon Soup
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled, sliced into coins
splash of Asian fish sauce
2 chicken breasts, (I used boneless/skinless), about 1.5 pounds
2 quarts (reduced sodium) chicken broth
half of a bunch of cilantro, particularly the stems, finely chopped
4 heads of baby bok choy, cleaned, sliced
frozen udon noodles, defrosted, however much you want per bowl
Sweat the onions, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil until softened. I added the chicken before the broth so it could take in these flavors before being bathed in the broth. Brown chicken lightly on both sides. Add broth. Bring it up to a low boil. Lower heat. Add fish sauce and cilantro. Simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to cutting board and shred with forks, removing those chewy bits. Toss the chicken back in. Just before serving, drop in the bok choy, to preserve it’s crunch and color. Serve over a bed of udon noodles. (If you’re going to have leftovers, save some of the bok choy to put in after reheating the next day.) Garnish with cilantro.