Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hot savory broth, soft noodles, tender chicken, fresh veggies and a delicious blast of Aloha.
Saimin (\ˈsī-ˈmin\). Comfort, Hawaiian style. Inspired by Japanese udon, Chinese mein and Filipino pancit, saimin is uniquely Hawaiian. Saimin is a compound of two Chinese words, 'sai', meaning thin and 'miàn', meaning noodle.
In the early 20th century at the end of a long hard work day, as Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Hawaiian sugar and pineapple plantation workers made their way to their humble abodes, meals often became a community effort with everyone throwing what they had to spare into the pot.
All those ethnic goodies mixed in with the noodley broth, from fresh laid eggs to green onions and Portuguese sausage to kimchi and bokchoy, added up to the birth of a down-home delicious, harmoniously cultural dish.
Saimin became so popular in Hawaii in the glory days, that instead of hotdogs, locals munched and slurped saimin at Honolulu Stadium as they watched Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Lengendary! And for years school kitchens have offered saimin lunches. Lucky keikis!
These days you'll find saimin on Hawaiian menus in little mom and pop joints and fancy schmancy establishments. Heck, saimin is one of McDonald's Hawaii's most popular menu items. That indicates what a mainstay saimin has become throughout the Islands.
Just like it is at our house. Aloha-in-my-kitchen days rock! We do bend the authenticity rules, but hey, isn't that how saimin started? I've happily just about perfected a wiki wiki (quick, quick), throw-it-together version that's good enough for company. Hot savory broth, soft, chewy noodles, tender chicken and the goodness of fresh veggies. Sip, slurp, munch. Mmmm. Onolicious!!
SIMPLE SAIMIN - 4 main course servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 green onions, chopped
4 cups broccoli, chopped into large bite-size pieces
9 cups water
4 (100g/3.5 oz) packages Sapporo Ichiban or similar dry ramen/Asian soup mix
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 deli-cooked rotisserie chicken, removed from the bones, chopped or broken into large, bite-size pieces
4 handfuls crunchy, fresh bean sprouts
Fresh lime for squeezing
Shoyu (soy sauce) for drizzling
Hot chili paste, for embellishing
Lime wedges and thinly sliced jalapenos, for garnish
In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped green onions and saute 2-3 minutes, until starting to caramelize. Add chopped broccoli and stir-fry another 2-3 minutes.
Add water and broth season packets from noodle mix. Bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes. Add noodles and cilantro and cook just 3 minutes, until noodles are al dente.
Have 4 large soup bowls ready. Distribute noodle soup mixture evenly between the bowls. Top each bowl with 1/4 of the chopped chicken and a good handful of bean sprouts. Squeeze a generous bit of lime juice over each bowl. Drizzle with shoyu. Serve right away, garnished with a fresh lime wedge and thinly sliced jalapenos, if desired. Oh yum!!