order HOBART #9 now!

Noodle Extra (with recipe)

by E.P. Chiew

bonus features:
alternate ending to Barry Graham's "Bad Beat" by Blake Butler

"Owen Morris's Other Creativity Games (to date)" by Dave Madden

deleted scene from Mary Miller's "Pearl"

behind the scenes:
an "origins" essay behind his Leisure Suit Larry essay by Matt Bell

Since noodles feature quite prominently in “Chopsticks Jenga”, I thought I’d share something of my passion for this long, stringy food, tasteless and bland by itself, but so good when combined with other things, especially soups because of its rather absorbent nature.

I love noodles of all kinds: Terry Durack’s cookbook simply called “Noodle” identifies 20 different kinds, from the uncomplicated type made from wheat (“mian” in Chinese) to shirataki (fine strands of jellylike paste made from a Japanese yam commonly known as devil’s tongue!) Widely used in Far East cuisines (although pasta such as linguine or spaghetti is also a noodle, they are used in Jewish cooking, Burmese, Turkish, Polish (e.g. kluski), Indian and Russian soups.

In the Far East, there’s documented history that the noodle was invented probably around 300 B.C. (Shu Hsi, an important literary figure in the early fourth century B.C. even composed an ode to the noodle, and in it, covered the art of kneading as well as how to cook it with meats and the seasonings to use).

In the Far East, the two big groups are “mian” (made from wheat) and “fen” (made from rice flour, mung bean starch, or any kind of starch). Wheat examples are ramen, lo mein, vermicelli, udon. Rice examples are kway teow, ho fen, lai fen, mi fen. The noodle-maker in "Chopsticks Jenga" was making Hokkien noodles – a thick, fresh, oiled eggy type, thicker than linguine (and therefore soaks up more sauce). Hokkien noodles are particularly popular with curry in Malaysia, and people often have it as breakfast. Nothing like a spicy bowl of curry mee to get you jumpstarted for a day in the office, I say!

That might be the reason I love noodles so much – you can have them as breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can have them as a snack. You can eat them when you’re sick of rice, and in one bowl, you can combine them with veggies and meat, and arrive at a balanced meal.

Here’s one of my own concocted recipe for you noodle-lovers out there:

Beef noodles with Star Anise (a variation/derivation of the Sichuan Beef Noodles)

1 pound stewing beef
5 cloves garlic, chopped
5 slices ginger, roughcut
5 or 6 star anise
2 tablespoons sesame oil
5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
10 cups water
2 teaspoons Chinese chilli bean paste
13 ounces fresh egg noodles
2 bunches of bok-choy or choi-sum
1 red chilli
Sugar and salt

Cube the beef about 1 inch square.

In a large saucepan, heat the sesame oil and stir-fry ginger and garlic until they release an aroma. Then add beef, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes (the beef need not be cooked through). Add chilli bean paste, stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add water, stock, soy sauce and star anise. Cover and simmer for 2 hours, until beef is very tender. Taste for salt (some add a pinch of sugar to the broth to sweeten it). You can remove the big slices of ginger when serving.

Blanch or steam the bok-choy or choi sum in hot water, but leave it crisp, slightly undercooked.

Cook noodles in boiling water. Dish into four serving bowls. Spoon the beef soup on top. Add the bok-choy or choi sum as topping.

In a small dish, sprinkle soy sauce over diced red chilli as garnish.

Serves 4.

an old essay about Magic: the Gathering, with new footnotes, by Mike Alber

an essay on noodles, with recipe, by E.P. Chiew

short supplemental stories:
"Picture I Stole from My Lover" by Stefan Kiesbye

"Adam, Jacob, John, Paul" (with baseball card) by Jennifer Pieroni

"Crossing Borders" by Grant Perry

short interviews with the cover artists:
Ryan Molloy

Steven Seighman

David Kramer

more bonus features:
a short story by Fart Party comic artist Julia Wertz

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Dino Run

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Ninja Hunter

Gene Morgan and Matthew Simmons Discuss Rose & Camellia