Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Simplicity

For some reason our local fruit and veg shop has been carrying amazing tomatoes: deep red, juicy and flavoursome - and three bucks a kilo! I've been going nuts for tomato recipes. Stumbling upon The Kitchn's roasted garlic and tomato sauce recipe was a godsend: this is brilliant. Tomato, lots of garlic and a combo of olive oil and butter roasted slowly in the oven ends up with a glorious sauce: rich, warm and chunky, but not too chunky - perfect for pasta, or even on toast. Absolutely perfect with homemade gnocchi fried up: today I tried it with polenta. Genius.

You start out with this beautiful-looking dish (I use pyrex - The Kitchn says to use foil, but I think you'd lose a lot of the delicious bits that way). Here's my first batch. Fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, good olive oil and small chunks of Nuttelex:
And here's how it turns out - as shown by my lunch today, served on cheesy polenta (Bio-Life cheese - fairly neutral on it, although I think the Cornish is now using it on their parmas and that's delicious. Can anyone confirm?). This one involved red and green capsicum which was even better than the original. This is the kind of comfort food I love to eat: slow, simple, the kind of thing you eat snuggled up in a warm jumper with a good book. I can't wait for spring but this'll do pretty nicely in the meantime!
Slow Roasted Tomato-Capsicum-Garlic Sauce (originally from The Kitchn; altered by me)

approx. one kilo of tomatoes - whatever kind takes your fancy, anything works!
one small red capsicum
one small green capsicum
around six cloves of garlic, peeled and diced fairly small
a generous handful of fresh basil, torn
two tablespoons olive oil
about the same of Nuttelex
a splash of red wine vinegar
salt/pepper

This is very simple. Preheat your oven to 180. Chop your tomatoes into rough chunks, and your capsicum into smaller chunks (think around an inch or less). Pop them into a suitably large baking dish, preferably pyrex. Season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter in your torn basil, garlic and drizzle generously with red wine vinegar. Add your olive oil and Nuttelex in smaller chunks dotted around. Toss everything a little and pop it in the oven for three hours. Check it at least every half hour and just give everything a little squish - this way you're encouraging everything to break down to a sauce-like consistency. When it's done, you should see a little blackening but no unusuable bits. Serve it on polenta, your favourite pasta, as a spread on toast (it'd be smashing on pizza too) or just eat it from the pan.. I have. It's worth it.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Fukuryu Ramen, CBD

One day a while ago I googled 'vegan ramen melbourne' out of vague curiosity. Turns out there's at least three vegetarian options in the CBD - Menya, Little Ramen Bar and Fukuryu. We set out for Little Ramen Bar a couple of weeks ago but were turned away by the massive lines. Our visit to Fukuryu was a much bigger success.

Despite being in a little laneway off Chinatown, it's quick and easy to find. Up a flight of stairs and you walk into a warm spacious area filled with small tables. Ordering happens at the front of the store, then you take an electronic order whatsit and sit and wait for your meal to come to you. Super easy. There's a good variety of drinks too - you can have the usual Coke et cetera, a Ramune, or Japanese beer and cider (they carry three varieties of Kirin - apple and mandarin, apple and apple/umeboshi). I'm fairly sure Kirin is v-friendly - next time I'll be giving them a go.

Your only vegan ramen option is the Vegetarian Miso Ramen ($12.90), ordered without buttered corn and egg. But it's SO worth it - and honestly, this doesn't need the extra toppings. Rather than pork and egg, this comes with fine slices of grilled pumpkin, crispy nori, enoki mushrooms and pumpkin seeds. The broth is lovely - savoury and a little rich - but the pumpkin and seeds are the perfect toppings. Each table has bottles of chili oil, shichimi togarashi, chili paste and sesame seeds, so you can spicify your ramen if that's your jam. Either way, this was brilliant and by the time I'd finished it I was already making plans for my next bowl. This is an incredibly well thought out vegan option, instead of "let's throw a bunch of veggies on some broth", and I'm just plain excited it exists.
Oh, and where the omnis have chicken karaage and beef bowls and such - we can have fried nori tofu, $4.90:
This was delicious; paper-thin batter encasing soft tofu, so hot it burnt your mouth, and scattered with nori salt and pepper which made the perfect ramen side. I forgot to ask for it mayo-less, so if you're vegan make sure to do so. I just got Omni Boyfriend to eat the mayo'd pieces and all was well. He had the (meaty) Tam Tam ramen and half my tofu and thought both were brilliant.

Fukuryu Ramen is cheap, cheerful and absolutely delicious. The service was stupidly fast, the waitresses lovely and it was a great place to sit and enjoy a meal out of the torrential Melbourne rain. The reviews are true: this place rocks. Get on it.

Fukuryu Ramen
Level 1, 22-26 Corrs Lane, Melbourne
11:30 - 2:30 lunch sitting, 5:30 - 9:30 dinner sitting
Fukuryu Ramen on Urbanspoon