Let’s talk eggs. It IS the first day of spring, after all. What is a more apt symbol of new life and hope than an egg?
The egg is the powerhouse of health, designed to provide all the essential nutrients to a developing embryo. Eggs contain choline, vitamins A, D, K2, and E, as well as folate, biotin, iron, zinc, and selenium. Eggs are a very complete food, and eggs from chickens allowed to roam on green grass in the sun will have higher levels of essential nutrients than eggs from factory farms. Check out this chart:
A quick google search will yield a tremendous amount of similar data. Some estimates suggest that you would need to eat a full half dozen eggs (some say more) to ingest the same amount of nutrition as a single pasture raised egg (in light of that fact, you actually get MORE for your dollar when you buy nutrient dense food--you'd have to buy and eat 6 dozen(!) factory farmed eggs to equal what you get in our eggs!).
We eat eggs at least once a day here. We’ve been eating eggs once a day for the last ten years or so, ever since we started farming. And we’re not sick of them. Because eggs are really, really, versatile. They can be appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and there are endless ways to use eggs in meals. Eggs work well in dishes with several components, such as ramen, or rice bowls. One of our favorite ways to eat them is fried, with cortido (a Mexican fermented saurkraut), cilantro, and salsa. Another favorite way is Chap Chae, an Asian style noodle dish that I’m going to share with you today. Our friend shared this recipe with us once and we’re obsessed.
The soul of this dish is the gloriously chewy noodles, made of sweet potato starch, available at Korean grocers. If you can find it (called chapchae or dangmyeon), use it and follow the cooking times on the package carefully. These bouncy noodles taste beautiful warm, at room temperature, or even straight cold from the fridge on day 2 - no reheat necessary.
A second-best noodle for the bounce factor ("QQ" is how people in Taiwan describe that perfect springy chew chew that highfives you back) are Chinese glass noodles made of mung beans.
All other vegetable/protein/seasoning ingredients add nutrition, color and textural contrast, and flavor.
shiitake mushrooms (fresh, or rehydrate if you bought it dried from an Asian store)
These should already be chopped and ready while your noodles are cooking because the residual heat of the strained noodles is what will wilt/cook them.
Chop/slice your veggies according to desired final texture and size. Matchstick carrots (a julienne peeler is a favorite tool) or daikon radish; thinly slice not-too-stringy celery on a diagonal.. You can lightly marinade any of these (I like some lemon juice or acid for brightness or a nice sweet n salty soak to hydrate and crisp it up). Segments of scallion (green onion / spring onion... or parsley or cilantro...). Spinach or another chopped leafy green works too. I allow the residual heat of the noodles to wilt all these ingredients. Some "recipes" will instruct you to separately cook all these veggies but that's extra work and extra sog. Although, if you're using regular onion instead of scallions, those you might want to give a light saute or even caramelize so they don't assault your noodles and nostrils in their almost raw form.
After combining the ingredients with the hot noodles give it all a sauce-toss, garnish with toasted sesame seeds (or flax seeds, crushed peanuts, whatever; parsley, cilantro, green onions)
We add some thinly rolled and sliced omelette to the mix (adds some pillowy ribbons of egg "noodles" to the glass noods).
"Chap chae" is often made with a sweet soy marinated beef (think bulgogi or teriyaki). These proteins you might pre-cook and mix in. Or, pull cooked leftover meat out of the fridge, cut to bite size, and allow the noodle-heat to warm it up.
(marinade = soy sauce, rice wine, garlic, ginger, pepper, sesame oil. sugar or some smashed fruit is a nice addition too).
Note: This method is less successful if you use another starch (wheat noodles, rice noodles, hot potatas, etc.) but if it's what you have, it's what you'll use. In this case, any stiffer or more fibrous veggies may want to be blanched in your pasta water since these other noodles may not retain enough heat to wilt the lovely toppings.
sauce toss soy sauce : honey : sugar: sesame oil (4:1:1:1) + pinch white pepper (or black).
Brown sugar is preferred if you have it. I'll substitute maple syrup or molasses (or omit) if I don't have honey.
So there's that. If you're looking for something new to try this is the kind of dish that throws us out of our normal round of dishes turns dinner time into something special and exciting! Give it a try and let us know what you think.
And, don't hesitate to share meal ideas that have been inspiring you in the comments or via email. We love getting ideas from you guys!