Movies are almost as good as food, in fact very often I am hungry in a way that only a good movie can feed. Of course, if the movie is well done and has even a suggestion of food, I inevitably crave that too.
In the Mood for Love has only a few brief mentions of noodles and the movie is certainly not food-centric, but I am so enamored with this film after seeing it for the second time, that those small suggestions are more than enough to send me running out for noodle soup ingredients (and a perfectly tailored dress with a high collar in a vintage floral pattern…).
The movie is a deliciously painful love story with sexual tension building like a rollercoaster in slow motion. Quiet, beautiful and incredibly restrained, Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong is sloping alleys, deserted streets, warm, bustling apartment kitchens and red and gold tones. The city is dark, the protagonists are gorgeous and the smoking is glamorous. I cried for twenty minutes after the credits rolled, and then started looking for noodle recipes.
Udon Noodle Soup with Chard
This recipe was inspired by a noodle soup from Veganomicon, but I took it in a slightly different direction than Isa and let my onions caramelize a bit, added some vegetable broth and tamari and used cremini mushrooms instead of shitakes. The result is by no means authentically asian tasting, but it is thick and hearty with all the flavors melding together very nicely. It has very little broth when all the cooking is done and is really more of a saucy noodle dish than a soup.
1 package dried udon noodles (I used an 8 oz. package of the Eden brand)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium red onion sliced into thin half moons
2 cups cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Tbs minced, peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs Mirin/rice wine
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I like the flavor of the Pacific organic)
2-3 Tbs yellow or red miso paste (I used the red, which has a stronger flavor)
4 cups chopped red chard (green or rainbow would work as well), tough stems removed
1 Tbs tamari or soy sauce (I like tamari, it has a deeper flavor, but soy sauce has a more familiar “asian food” flavor, so go with what you like)
You can use one pot for this preparation:
Bring a large (soup-size) pot of water to a boil and cook the udon noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, chop up your veggies.
When udon are ready drain them into a colander and set aside. Dry out the pot and heat up the vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute red onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften, then add the mushrooms and continue to cook until they have softened as well, about 7 minutes. Add ginger and garlic to the pot and continue to saute a couple minutes more then add the rice wine, water and miso paste. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure miso gets broken up and incorporated as you bring the mixture to a boil. Add the broth and tamari/soy and bring that to a low boil as well. Add the chopped chard and cover the pot so chard can cook down, about 2-3 minutes. Rise off udon to keep them from sticking to one another, then add them to the soup. Heat noodles through and serve.