Monday 27 May 2024

May 2024 favourites list

Welcome to this month’s collection of wonderful things. This month is all about food and flowers. Late Spring is always glorious to me, and I’ve enjoyed the warmer days, the changing produce in the shops, and I’m starting to think of other things to cook at eat. 


Food writing

Colombia is a wonderful destination for culture, history, sights and food. Here are 10 food experiences not to miss if you are planning a trip: https://www.olivemagazine.com/travel/south-america/colombian-cuisine-10-things-we-love/

The microwave is wrongly maligned as not a proper tool for cooking. Chef Tim Anderson’s latest cookbook is designed to prove the haters wrong. Kavey has done another one of her excellent cookbook reviews of this new offering, with her usual attention to detail and recipe testing: https://www.kaveyeats.com/microwave-meals-tim-anderson

Proof that people power works – Lidl bring back their cheese twist, much missed since their discontinuance in 2021. Please, Aldi, bring back the truffle salami, I miss it! https://metro.co.uk/2024/05/23/lidl-finally-brings-back-elite-discontinued-snack-3-years-begging-20894761

If you find yourself in the need of quick meal options, ready meals can provide a handy solution. Here, medical and dietary experts help you pick out the best options, while giving their advice on what to look for and what to avoid. https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/ready-meals-expert-eat-wont-touch-3068888


Kitchen Know-how

Chef Sanjana Modha shares her advice on how to make Indian cooking less time consuming and complicated. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/indian_dinners_made_easy

Bought kitchenalia you later regretted? We’ve all been there. Here is a handy guide to the gadgets and gizmo not to bother with. https://lifehacker.com/food-drink/gimmicky-kitchen-appliances-you-dont-need

What are the healthiest vegetable cooking methods? https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/healthiest_vegetable_cooking_method

Recipes

We are on the brink of Summer, with fresh and tasty tomatoes that haven’t been flown from the other side of the world. Here are some recipe ideas, from salads to soups and sides, focussing on Piccolo tomatoes: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/recipes/british-tomato-fortnight-recipes-summer-b2550465.html

 

With citrus tang and the mild aniseed of fennel bulb this radicchio and orzo pasta salad makes you feel like Spring is making the transition into Summer:  https://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/radicchio-and-orzo-pasta-salad/

Mafghoussa – “squashed” courgette dip topped with pine nuts, might just be the new hummus. Recipe by Fadi Kattan from the book Bethlehem: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/guests/mafghoussa

Kitchen know how and cooking tips

This may be written primarily for an American audience, but there are tips here we can all be assisted by – first aid in the kitchen and how to avoid common cooking related accidents: https://www.eater.com/24150577/kitchen-safety-first-aid-kit-burns-cuts 

Ideas to pep up your salads, including barbequing quartered heads of romaine lettuce: https://metro.co.uk/2024/05/06/top-chef-shares-trick-make-best-salad-controversial-20772230

How to make better meatballs – how to avoid rubbery texture, dryness and blandness: https://lifehacker.com/food-drink/best-tips-for-better-meatballs


 

What you may have missed at Snig’s Kitchen

Maruchan spicy chicken and prawn instant noodle review – https://snigskitchen.blogspot.com/2024/05/maruchan-spicy-chicken-and-prawn.html


 

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations

Saturday 18 May 2024

Maruchan spicy chicken and prawn instant noodle review

Maruchan is an internationally popular instant noodle brand, and you’ll find both cup/pot noodle products and packet noodle offerings from them. Their logo of a circle with a small child’s smiling face captures their name perfectly, as “maru” means a round, happy child's face, and “chan” is added to the end of words to show affection.  I was fascinated to discover that Toyo Suisan, Maruchan’s parent company, found that their business as seafood processing company meant the factory had nothing to do in the cold Winter months. Diversifying into instant ramen meant the factory could run all year round. [Please see: The history and unknown story of Maruchan: https://piece-of-japan.com/investing/instant-noodle/maruchan.html

 

Maruchan is very popular across Central and South America. Mexico is the biggest market, but I have also seen a noodle stand at the Brazilian side of Iguacu Falls where you can get a pot of Maruchan Instant Lunch made up for you to refuel while exploring this wonder of the natural world. These Latin American Maruchan products are made in the USA at one of four factories.

I was fascinated to read about how Maruchan noodles are eaten in Mexico. Isami Romero writes: “It should be noted that Mexicans completely changed how the noodles are eaten. To begin with, they eat the noodles soggy. In fact, noodle soups are always eaten at that consistency in Mexico—a thought that would surely make the Japanese shudder. Moreover, Mexicans use a fork instead of chopsticks. In Mexico the noodles are cut short, unlike the long noodles in Japan. Mexicans also do not slurp or make a noise when eating like the Japanese do. Finally, although Maruchan noodles are already flavored (shrimp, chicken, or pork), Mexicans further add lemon and plenty of hot sauce.” [Please see: Isami Romero: ” Mexican-Style Maruchan: Japanese Food Overseas as Seen Through the Success of an Instant Ramen Brand”: https://www.nippon.com/en/column/g00287/ ]

I will be more conventional in my road test, preferring al dente noodles with some soup. I will try the noodles and soup “as is” and then add toppings to make them up into more of a meal. 

Maruchan spicy chicken and prawn noodle review

The product

I road tested two Maruchan products, made in their American factory for sale in Central and South American markets, as shown by the Spanish text on the packets. I bought them on holiday in Argentina at a supermarket. These are not the premium quality lines; Maruchan Gold is the premium product in America, and there are other products which are higher in the market available in the UK via the Japan Centre. These are the basic level product, which were inexpensive.

 

The first was described as spicy chicken flavour, and the second prawn flavour. Interestingly the health warnings are not just for high sodium. I'm not getting food snobby about instant noodles; they give a quick, easy meal solution, which is warming, fills you up and provided you don't have them too often (because of the high salt content) and you ensure your diet is balanced, convenience foods like this have their place.


 

What’s Inside

Inside each packet is a cake of dried noodles and a flavour soup packet. The instructions say to make the noodles in 500ml of boiling water. 


 

When I made the first packet (spicy chicken flavour), I followed the instruction and used 500ml of water. However, the amount of soup resulting was far too large. I therefore reduced the amount for the second packet (prawn flavour)

What does it taste like

I found the spicy chicken flavour noodles seemed to come out with a slightly firmer texture than the prawn, for reasons I cannot explain. The firmer noodles were much nicer. I usually soak instant noodles for exactly 4 minutes in boiling water, as it gives the best results. I have tried boiling them in water, which gives soggy noodles and very starch water.

The spicy chicken had a pleasant soup, rather salty, but tasting like chicken stock. There was a low hint of heat, and small bits of dried chilli in the soup. You don’t need to be able to eat hot food to eat these noodles, they are nothing like the Korean Shin Ramyun, which are incendiary. 


 

The prawn flavour soup was bland. Sorry to be blunt, but there was no real flavour. This was disappointing, I must say. 


 

As you can see, I modded my noods. Instant noodles become more than just convenience food with some modifications. The spicy chicken had Pho inspired accoutrements: coriander leaf, beansprouts, spring onion, and fresh mint. The prawn noodles had freshly toasted sesame seeds and spring onion.

I use Gingey Bites’ rating system for my noodles. For Alex’s scoring method and an index of all of her instant noodle reviews, please see: https://gingeybites.com/guide-to-instant-noodles

Maruchan Spicy Chicken noodles:

Texture 7/10

Flavour 7/10

Ease of making 8/10

Maruchan Prawn noodles:

Texture 6/10

Flavour 5/10

Ease of making 8/10

Would I buy them again: no. Sorry! 

I will give Maruchan’s more premium products a try, but there are other simple inexpensive instant noodle products which are better than this.

You can read my previous instant noodle review (for Nissin brand’s collaboration Cup Noodle with Shoryu) here: https://snigskitchen.blogspot.com/2024/01/nissin-x-shoryu-ramen-masters-cup.html

This review represents the genuine opinions of Snigdha, who has received no incentive to write this review, and who purchased the product with her own money.

Saturday 27 April 2024

April 2024 Favourites list


 

Please do dig into this month’s list. Like me, it is short and sweet.

I had hoped to share and say much more, but life has taken over. My to-do list is reproaching me as I type. I have a blended learning module which goes live online tomorrow. But there are still resources to update.

But I hope these selections will keep you going for now.

Look after yourselves, and stay awesome.

Recipes

What’s the secret to an authentic Thai salad? There are some great ideas in this article. I love Thai salads. No wonder so many of them are called "yum"!
https://www.theguardian.com/food/2024/apr/09/whats-the-secret-to-an-authentic-thai-salad-kitchen-aide-anna-berrill

Three 30 minute Italian recipes from the Big Mamma group of restaurants (which includes Shoreditch’s Gloria Trattoria and Covent Garden’s Ave Mario) Risotto zafferano alla Milanese, Tagliatelle ai funghi porcini and Tiramis├╣ al pistachio:

https://www.stylist.co.uk/food-drink/italian-recipes-big-mamma-group/876919

Homemade Vietnamese fish cakes in a noodle soup – recipe by cookbook author Uyen Luu: https://www.nigella.com/recipes/guests/uyen-luus-fish-cake-noodle-soup

Mexican tacos with their varied fillings are fun, delicious, informal food which seems to taste all the better because you eat with your hands. Pork carnitas which are both slow cooked and fried is a favourite topping. Here’s how to make it: https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/pork-carnitas/

 

Kitchen know how and cooking tips

Yotam Ottolenghi gives his advice on how to get a smoky, chargrilled flavour in your vegetables without using a barbeque: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2024/apr/20/ask-ottolenghi-how-do-i-get-smoky-chargrilled-flavour-no-barbecue

Marcella Hazan was a cooking writer who didn’t just deliver recipes, but tried to change the way we cook. This article collects together some of her cooking tips. I’ve been trying cooking my onions and garlic from a cold pan to ensure they don’t burn or brown. It’s been useful for dishes which need a sauteed base. https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/best-marcella-hazan-cooking-tips-article

 

TV

Imagine: Pet Shop Boys – Then and Now

This new BBC documentary about Pet Shop Boys featuring new interviews with Neil and Chris shedding light on their overall career, new work, but most tantalising their early unheard demos and early days is a wonderful bit of TV. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001yblg/imagine-202324-pet-shop-boys-then-and-now

Boarders

St Gilbert’s boarding school has an image crisis after their pampered and privileged pupils are found to have been immortalised on video bullying a homeless man and spraying him with champagne. Sounds familiar? To create good press, the school decides to show it cares by creating scholarships for disadvantaged kids from the inner city. Five Lewisham teenagers, Jaheim, Leah, Femi, Omar and Toby arrive as the recipients of the scholarships, and what unfolds is a comedy drama with excellent performances from the five lead characters, and comedy which is contemporary, warm, yet knowing and satirical.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m001wjyk/boarders

Later… Presents: Amy Winehouse

I won’t be watching the Amy Winehouse biopic. Not that I am suggesting you should not. But I’d rather remember her through her music and her performances. I bought her debut album, Frank, made at the tender age of 19 but with so much more maturity of songwriting, and I saw her play live the week that Back To Black came out. The BBC have collected together her live performances from Later… With Jools Holland if you would like to join me in remembering her unique talent as a singer and songwriter.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001qgj7/later-with-jools-holland-amy-winehouse

Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations