Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mabo Ramen

With my recent post about ramen and curry and all, I wanted to mention yesterday's set meal at our university cafeteria: Mabo Ramen. "Mabo" is mabo tofu, a Chinese dish that resembles chilli: a fairly thin, spicy meat sauce with pieces of tofu. It's eaten with rice and is quite popular here. "Mabo Ramen", then, is a bowl of soy-sauce flavoured ramen, but instead of bean sprouts and the rest, you pour a ladle-full of mabo tofu right into the bowl and stir.

Soy-sauce ramen is fairly dark, and the meat sauce thickens it to resemble hot, dark mud. The white pieces of tofu float merrily on top, not unlike winter-pale, overweight guests at a spa enjoying a mud bath. Suddenly the surface erupts as the bone-yellow ramen floats to the surface like some blind, mad Lovecraftian Elder God. Its multitudinous1 tentacled strands glisten as they blindly grope and envelop the first unlucky tofu bather, to drag him under, shrieking in fear, towards the unknowlable insane horror at the center of the huge slithering mass...

..and once I stopped playing with my food I tried actually tasting it. As it turns out, It's really, really good. The flavours complement each other very well, and the meat sauce gives the soup a thick, satisfying consistency. And it shouldn't be too surprising; after all, a mabo tofu and small ramen is a fairly common set menu at cheap Chinese restaurants already. Pouring them into the same bowl is just a natural next step. Anyway, I'm certainly having it again if it shows up on the menu at some point.


#1 I really think "multitudinous" is a good word, and used far too little these days. It's not that easy to fit expressions like "multitudinous tentacles" into everyday conversation2, unfortunately. "Multitudinous whiteboard markers" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

#2 If you can, you're probably leading a more interesting life than I do.

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