Friday, November 28, 2014

Food Truck Road Trip Cookbook Review and Giveaway: Loco Moco Mazemen (Beef Ramen with Miso Gravy)

Shortly before I headed west for the World Food Championships, I got an email about doing a review of a really fun cookbook called Food Truck Road Trip by bloggers Kim Pham and Philip Shenn with food writer,Terri Phillips. You very might well recognize Pham and Shen as the bloggers behind Saveur magazine's pick for Best Culinary Travel Blog, I usually always agree with Saveur's blogger picks, so when I got a chance to look this book over, I was more than happy to oblige.

Food Truck Road Trip is a bright, colorful cookbook loaded with the authors' picks of some of the best food truck recipes from around the country. All of the recipes are prefaced by a little history of the chefs and their inspiration for their trucks and their recipes. I love reading the background on these entrepreneurs, because deep down inside I wish I could load up a cute little trailer with my favorite recipes and watch the diners line up at the window. Maybe someday.

For some this is dream is a reality and Pham and Shen have sought them out and compiled 100 of their best recipes for this book. From soup and sandwiches, to American comfort food with a little Latin, Asian and fusion foods in between, this book is a beautifully photographed tour of some of America's best food trucks. Oh yeah, they didn't forget about those with a sweet tooth. There's lots of recipes for drinks, desserts and snacks in there too.

Since I always like to cook the books that I review, I combed through this one no less than ten times trying to land on just the perfect recipe. It was really a tough decision, what with trying to decided between Wes Islip's (Melts My Heart, San Jose) crab salad grilled cheese, Timothy Mark Abeil and Caleb Patrick Orth's (Flat Iron, Los Angeles) Oxtail Mac N' Cheese, and Joe Glaser's (La Bella Torte, New York, NY) Rosemary Olive Oil and Blood Orange Cake. See what I mean?! Hard choices!

After changing my mind several times I finally landed upon Loco Moco Mazemen from the tiny food cart, Poi Dog Philly, owned by Kiki Aranita and Chris Vacca, from (you guessed it) Philadelpia, PA. I just loved the Hawaii meets Japan vibe of this beefy noodle dish. Nevermind that I found 8 packages of ramen and an unopened container of miso when we moved. Well, maybe it did have just a bit to do with my decision, but I'm so glad it worked out like this, because we really enjoyed it.

Loco Moco Mazemen (Kiki Aranita & Chris Vacca, Poi Dog Philly)

3/4 pound ground beef
4 eggs
4 - 1/4 ounce dried ramen noodles

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup diced white onion
2 tablespoon shoyu (I used soy sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Miso Gravy
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons white miso
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

4 tablespoons fried shallots
Pinch of furikake (a spice blend also known as rice seasoning)
8 sheets roasted Korean seaweed for garnish (optional)

To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add the ground beef, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil over high heat, add the eggs and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately dunk in ice water. Peel and set aside.

Cook the ramen noodles according to the package directions, drain and set aside.

To make gravy, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the flour. Once the roux browns lightly, 1 to 2 minutes, whisk in the beef stock, then the miso. Add the black pepper and salt to taste. Cook for about 6 minutes until the gravy thickens.

Remove the beef from the refrigerator, add to a skillet set over medium-high heat and saute until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Divide the noodles among 4 bowls, dress with the miso gravy, then top evenly with the beef, 1 egg, the fried shallots and furikake. Tuck 2 sheets of seaweed next to the rim of each bowl.

My only note here is that I thought that the gravy was a bit floury so next time I will back off the flour a bit and go with my trusty 1 to 1 ratio of fat to flour and use 2 tablespoons instead of the 1/3 cup called for in the recipe. We also thought this dish needed a bit of a spike in flavor (maybe because I didn't have any seaweed) so we squirted a little sriracha on top and sprinkled it with a bit of cilantro and some chopped green onions. 

OK, now for the fun part, my giveaway. I've got one copy of this fun book to give away to one of my readers. I like to keep my giveaways simple so just by commenting here or on Savoury Table's Facebook page (click the button at the top right of this page), you are entered to win. I will hold my drawing on Friday, December 5th. If you are chosen as my winner, you have 48 hours to contact me or I will choose another winner so please be sure that I have a way to contact you. Good luck!

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