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No-Churn Mascarpone Ice Cream Recipe

No-Churn Mascarpone Ice Cream Recipe

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip mascarpone, cream, and vanilla until thick enough to hold stiff peaks; the time this step takes will vary depending on the power of a given mixer, so keep a close eye […]

Skewer This: 19 Kickass Kebabs for Your Cookout

Skewer This: 19 Kickass Kebabs for Your Cookout

[Photographs: Morgan Eisenberg, Joshua Bousel, J. Kenji López-Alt] I love putting kebabs on the menu when I’m planning a cookout—they’re infinitely variable, easy to prep ahead of time, quick to cook, and pre-portioned for easy serving. We’ve got plenty of recipes to make sure all […]

Rejoice! New Catch Holland Herring Season Is Upon Us

Rejoice! New Catch Holland Herring Season Is Upon Us

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Mild, clean, and bright in flavor, with a buttery soft texture, new catch Holland herring are so beloved by the Dutch that there’s an annual celebration held in the Hague, known as “Flag Day,” to mark the beginning of the season in June.

In the past, these special herring were hard to find in the US—this 1981 article from The New York Times notes they were only available at Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. But Russ & Daughters has been importing them directly for years now, and you can purchase them at any one of their brick-and-mortar locations or online ($60 for a platter of 10 fish), as well as at Shelsky’s of Brooklyn (again, in-store or online).

If you enjoy raw fatty tuna of the kind you might eat at a pricey sushi bar, new catch Holland herring offers many of the same pleasures: soft, luscious meat with none of the fishiness that you might associate with herring. It’s a fish for fish-lovers and fish-haters alike.

What Is New Catch Holland Herring?

In Dutch, new catch Holland herring are known as Hollandse Nieuwe, or occasionally Hollandse maatjesharing and Holländischer Matjes, and they’re protected under the European Union’s traditional specialties guaranteed quality scheme, which regulates how the herring fillets are produced and what kind of herring can be used in the preparation.

Matjes and maatje are derived from the word maagdje, which translates to “virgin,” and are used to specify young, immature herring, ones that are of a specific size, are at least three years old, and yet have not fully developed their sexual organs. They should have a fat content of at least 16%, which only occurs after they start eating plankton in the spring, so the herring season spans May through August.

Aside from the physical characteristics of the herring themselves, what defines new catch Holland herring is the way they are processed. Instead of being gutted, the fish are de-headed or “gibbed,” which means the gills, and most of the internal organs are removed, but the pancreas is left behind (if a fish is gibbed, the head will not still be attached to the fillets).

It’s the presence of the pancreas that makes new catch herring unique. Enzymes within the pancreas begin to break down the protein in the fish flesh immediately through autolytic conversion, which accounts for the herring’s buttery texture. If left unchecked, that ripening will lead the fish to rot, so once they’re cleaned, the fish are lightly salted, which slows down the rate at which the flesh breaks down. They’re then allowed to ripen anywhere from four hours to four days, depending on their size and other considerations, such as the percentage of fat in the meat.

How to Eat New Catch Holland Herring

The herring are typically served as close to whole as possible. The two fillets of the fish are still attached at the tail, and the whole thing is served on a plate. If you order the herring at Grand Central Oyster Bar, they artfully splay the two fillets out in a “V,” and serve chopped hard-boiled egg, diced onion, and minced chives as a garnish.

But there’s a more traditional way of eating the fish, one documented in one of my favorite posts in this website’s history, which was written by Max Falkowitz in 2013 to warn everyone of the impending end of that year’s new catch Holland herring season. For the sake of posterity, we’ve transferred the images that illustrate the traditional way of eating new catch Holland herring, as demonstrated by Robyn Lee, to this post.

First, you roll the fillets in chopped onion and/or chopped pickles. Then, you hold it above your head by its tail, and tilt your head back.

Robyn Lee demonstrating how to eat new catch Holland herring

Then you lower the fillets into your open mouth.

Robyn Lee enjoying a new catch Holland herring

If there’s a picture of happiness on the internet, that’s it.

You can also eat it on a bun, like a deliciously buttery hot dog, or in fish salad-type preparations, if you like. But it truly is one of those rare delicacies that deserves to be eaten all on its own, with just the right amount of garnish.

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Chilled Minty Carrot Soup With Dukkah Yogurt Recipe

Chilled Minty Carrot Soup With Dukkah Yogurt Recipe

4. Refrigerate soup base until chilled (alternatively, you can use an ice bath to speed up the chilling time). Return soup base to a clean blender jar, add mint leaves and blend until leaves are chopped into tiny flecks. Transfer soup base to a large […]

Dukkah (Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Blend) Recipe

Dukkah (Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Blend) Recipe

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik] Dukkah, the Middle Eastern spice blend, comes in many forms. Recipes can feature countless combinations of seeds, nuts, spice, and herbs. This one hews closely to a version common in Egypt, which is often credited as the birthplace of dukkah. It’s filled […]

XO Mazemen: Mix It Up With a Broth-less Ramen

XO Mazemen: Mix It Up With a Broth-less Ramen

View of XO mazemen garnished with sugar snap peas, onsen egg, and scallions

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

Broth-less ramen is having a bit of a moment right now, in part because one of the better-reviewed new restaurants in New York City—Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura’s new restaurant, Niche—serves variations on mazemen, or “mixed noodles.”

I have to admit, up front, that I personally am not the biggest fan of mazemen. If I were forced to choose between Nakamura’s mazemen offerings and a bowl of any one of the options on the menu at his other restaurant, Nakamura, I’d pick a bowl of noodles swimming in beautiful broth, without hesitation.

But there’s a time and a place for everything, and the best time to make your own mazemen is definitely during the hot summer months, when the idea of big, steaming pots of ramen broth, made either on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker, is eminently unappealing.

What Is Mazemen?

XO mazemen with chopsticks breaking onsen egg on top

Mazemen, also called mazesoba, isn’t really a new thing, even in the ramen scene in the United States. Yuji Ramen, for instance, has been producing fine bowls of mazemen for years now.

Mazemen is kind of a subset of abura soba, or “oil noodles.” The original soup-less ramen, abura soba was invented at Chinchintei, a ramen shop in the city of Musashino, located in the western part of the larger entity called the Tokyo Metropolis.*

* Tokyo isn’t really a city, per se, but more of an agglomeration of cities that functions as a larger prefecture.

As ramen lore has it, Chinchintei initially came up with broth-less ramen as a cost-effective staff meal—cost-effective because the broth is the priciest element of a bowl of ramen. The restaurant then started offering it to customers as a more affordable menu option, which appealed to the large number of parsimonious students attending a nearby university.

Chinchintei’s abura soba looks pretty much like what you’d expect a broth-less ramen bowl to look like. It has all the hallmark elements of a classic bowl of shoyu ramen—noodles, chashu, nori, and the braised, fermented bamboo shoots known as menma—presented in the same way that they would appear in a bowl of shoyu ramen, but without any soup. The tare, or seasoning, and ample amounts of fat are ladled into the bottom of the bowl; the diner is obliged to mix up the noodles to distribute the seasoning and oil before eating.

The distinction between abura soba and mazemen is a pretty fine one.** Some people hold that the difference lies in how much broth is allowed in the bowl: While abura soba cannot have any broth at all, a little is permissible for a mazemen. Others point to the names, saying that abura soba has to be quite oily and mazemen has to require some mixing on the part of the diner. I find that this last explanation underscores the absurdity of the taxonomical approach, since even the original abura soba requires a little mixing.

** Soba and men are both general terms for “noodle.” While you might think that “soba” refers only to buckwheat noodles, it is often used to describe ramen as well. So, for example, you’ll see mazemen called “mazesoba” and tsukemen, or dipping ramen, described as tsukesoba.

There is, of course, another form of soup-less noodles, and that’s hiyashi chuka, a kind of cold ramen salad that’s quite popular in the summer months. Is hiyashi chuka, which requires some mixing but doesn’t have a lot of oil, a mazemen and not an abura soba?

I believe the correct answer is that it’s neither. Hiyashi chuka is its own thing, since it has unique attributes: chilled noodles, a highly acidic dressing, et cetera. But it does show how the distinctions between these dishes are more a matter of noodle geekery than anything else.

How to Make Tasty Ramen Without a Flavorful Broth

Overhead view of XO mazemen with sugar snap peas, onsen egg, and scallions in a white bowl

Given my ambivalence about soup-less ramen in general, it may seem odd that I developed a recipe for mazemen. But I didn’t develop this recipe so much as sort of had it fall in my lap.

Again, both mazemen and abura soba are basically a bowl of ramen without a significant broth component. The main flavors in both come from the tare and the fat, which together form the sauce that ends up coating the noodles.

To make a tasty bowl of mazemen, you have to have a good tare, preferably one with a lot of dried-fish flavor, and a flavorful fat. We’ve already published recipes for a basic, flavorful tare and an aromatic oil, and I could have used them to make a decent mazemen, but it just so happened that I had another option at my disposal.

A few months ago, Sasha published a recipe for XO sauce, the super-savory, jam-like condiment made from cured ham and dried seafood, among other things. In the process of developing that recipe, he ended up producing several iterations of XO, which meant that we had jars and jars of this delicious stuff in our test kitchen. We were all invited to use it however we saw fit, which in turn meant that all of us on staff were putting XO on everything.

Since I make noodles fairly frequently for lunch, I obviously put XO in my noodle soups, both blending it into broths and dolloping it on top as a kind of mix-in. One day, though, I found I had a bunch of ramen components on hand—noodles, pork fat, tare, scallions—but no broth. So I made a quick mazemen with what I had, combined with a fair amount of XO.

And it was incredible.

Since that first impromptu mazemen lunch, I’ve made a number of different variations, all of them relying heavily on the flavor bomb that is XO, and all of them were very, very good. If you don’t have XO on hand, either store-bought or made from Sasha’s recipe (which, frankly, is amazing), you can follow the method outlined below, using a flavorful tare and fat, to make a decent mazemen dish. But it won’t have quite the same depth of flavor as this version.

How to Make XO Mazemen

It can help to think of mazemen as pasta, since a good mazemen, like a well-sauced plate of pasta, will consist of noodles sheathed in a light slick of flavorful sauce. And, just as with pasta, the best way to achieve that effect is to create an emulsion.

Overhead view of mixing bowl with mixture of soy sauce, pork fat, rice vinegar, and XO sauce in the bottom

I borrowed the same method Sasha uses for spaghetti con la colatura di alici—which means that I started out by finding a very large mixing bowl. You really want a too-large mixing bowl, one that can easily accommodate the pile of noodles and the sauce components, since the emulsion is going to be created by whipping the cooked noodles and sauce around the bowl very forcefully, so that the starch on the exterior of the noodles can be thoroughly mixed with the oil and liquid of the sauce.

Noodles being tossed with XO sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and pork fat in mixing bowl

Extra-large bowl in hand, for every serving of noodles, I add two tablespoons of XO sauce, two tablespoons of oil or other fat, one tablespoon of rice vinegar, and one tablespoon of soy sauce, and stir the mixture briefly with chopsticks to combine. I boil the noodles, drain them, add them to the bowl, then immediately toss and stir them vigorously with the sauce.

After about 30 seconds, the disparate components of the sauce should start to take on a creamy consistency, at which point I place the noodles in a serving bowl. Top with thinly sliced scallions, and there you have it: XO mazemen.

One note of caution: I’ve found that you can scale up this recipe for two portions of noodles, but going any further messes with the salinity of the final product. It is also far easier to whip two portions of slippery ramen around the bowl than three or four, so if you want to make this dish for a crowd, make it in two-portion batches. Or, even better, make each individual portion separately, wiping out the mixing bowl between portions.

Different varieties of ramen noodles: clockwise from bottom left: Dried instant noodles, fresh store-bought noodles, homemade noodles

Any noodle will do for this recipe. Clockwise from bottom left: instant noodles, fresh noodles from Sun Noodle, homemade noodles.

You can make this dish with any kind of ramen noodle you have on hand. If all you have access to is Shin Ramyun packets, use those. If you have access to better-quality ramen, like the Sun Noodle product line, use those. If you have some ramen you’ve made yourself at home, you can use those, too. Even though better noodles will make a better dish, an XO mazemen made with Shin Ramyun noodles is still quite tasty.

Overhead view of XO mazemen made with instant noodles

XO mazemen made with instant noodles.

You can also make this mazemen with any oil or fat you might have on hand. I tend to prefer using pork fat, but you can use rendered chicken fat, schmaltz, olive oil, a mixture of sesame and canola oil, homemade chili oil, shallot oil… whatever. I bet even clarified butter would work.

I’ve found that I can eat this mazemen at any time of day. I’ve made it for myself as an indulgent breakfast before work. I’ve had it for lunch and for dinner. I’ve made it many times late at night on a weekend, four beers deep and standing in my underwear in the kitchen.

This isn’t just because it’s tasty. If you have XO on hand, it takes just a little bit more time to make this dish than it does to boil a bunch of noodles. With my homemade noodles on hand, I can sit down to a bowl of XO mazemen three minutes after a pot of water has come to a boil.

Of course, if you want to make it more of a meal, you can add an assortment of toppings. For the photo shoot for this piece, I chose to add blanched sugar snap peas and an onsen egg, but you can add whatever you like.

Personally, I like a bit of greenery, whether it’s blanched vegetables or some sturdy salad greens, like chicory or kale. The onsen egg makes a luxurious topping, and the fattiness of the soft yolk serves to temper some of the aggressive salinity of the dish, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to make an onsen egg, you can add a fried egg, a poached egg, or even just a raw egg yolk on top.

The egg has the additional effect of obliging whoever’s digging in to mix the noodles up, thereby distributing the yolk and toppings evenly throughout the bowl, which pushes this dish out of abura soba territory and places it firmly in the soup-less, “mixed-noodle” realm.

Chopsticks breaking onsen egg set atop XO mazemen made with instant noodles

Not only is this dish perfect for summer, when it’s too hot to do all that much cooking, but it also offers many of the pleasures of a nice bowl of ramen—slippery, springy noodles; a savory sauce; luscious fat; and a mixture of textures provided by toppings—in a mere fraction of the time, and with hardly any effort required.

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

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XO Mazemen (Broth-less Ramen With XO Sauce) Recipe

XO Mazemen (Broth-less Ramen With XO Sauce) Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] Mazemen, which translates from Japanese to “mixed noodles,” is a soup-less variety of ramen. This version of mazemen relies heavily on the intense flavor of XO sauce, the jam-like savory condiment that originated in Hong Kong and includes powerful ingredients like cured […]

10 Dessert Recipes Starring Greek Yogurt

10 Dessert Recipes Starring Greek Yogurt

[Collage photographs: Vicky Wasik] Like eggs, butter, and cream, yogurt is one of those incredibly versatile, easy-to-love dairy products—it can go on pretty much anything, and it can be used in sweet and savory cooking applications alike. But there’s regular ol’ yogurt, the kind made […]

12 White Chocolate Recipes That Hold Their Own

12 White Chocolate Recipes That Hold Their Own

[Photographs: Carrie Vasios Mullins, Natalie Holt, Myles New, Daniel Gritzer.]

Some chocolate purists scoff at white chocolate. They say it’s too sweet, or it lacks the bitterness and complexity of dark chocolate. We hear you, but there’s so much more to white chocolate than cheap candy bars and cloyingly sweet desserts. Used properly, and balanced with the contrasting flavors of fruits and spices, white chocolate brings a mellow, nutty sweetness that can’t be rivaled.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

These thick and rich cookies call for blending butter with melted white chocolate and toasted sugar. They’re not too sweet, and chunks of both dry-roasted macadamia nuts and high-quality white chocolate throughout the batter provide tons of texture. They might look plain, but these nutty cookies have so much more going on than meets the eye.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies Recipe »

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White Chocolate and Pistachio Sponge Blondies

[Photograph: Myles New]

Don’t confuse these with the super-rich, dense American blondies many of us are more familiar with. These European ones are light and spongy, with plenty of flavor from pistachio, strawberry, and white chocolate. Enjoy a piece—or two—on its own, or pour yourself a glass of Prosecco to go along.

White Chocolate and Pistachio Sponge Blondies Recipe »

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Flourless Bitter Lime Coconut Macaroon Cake With White Chocolate Whipped Cream

[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

This moist flourless cake plays off the flavors of a classic coconut macaroon. Add puréed whole limes (peeled, of course) to the batter, giving the cake a refreshing zing that stands up to rich coconut and an airy white chocolate whipped cream.

Flourless Bitter Lime Coconut Macaroon Cake With White Chocolate Whipped Cream Recipe »

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White Chocolate–Dipped Lemon Macaroons

[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]

Speaking of macaroons, you should definitely try your hand at these chewy cookies. Lemon zest makes them brighter than most store-bought alternatives, and a white chocolate bottom provides an extra layer of sweetness and flavor.

White Chocolate–Dipped Lemon Macaroons Recipe »

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Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache

[Photograph: Natalie Holt]

Caramelized white chocolate has a nutty, deep flavor similar to that of dulce de leche. Mixed with cream and a pinch of salt, it pairs perfectly with ice cream, and makes an impressive, shiny glaze for cakes.

Caramelized White Chocolate Ganache Recipe »

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Marbled Ganache

[Video: Natalie Holt]

Speaking of ganache, combine dark chocolate and white chocolate ganache and you get a very pretty and delicious accent for fresh fruit of all kinds (think: strawberries, of course, but also apple slices, say), little bits of pretzel, or anything else you can think of that would benefit from a bit of extra sweetness and richness.

Marbled Ganache Recipe »

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Matcha and White Chocolate Popcorn

[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

You can never, ever have too many popcorn variations. Here, we coat freshly popped popcorn with a lovely green-tinted mixture of melted white chocolate and matcha.

Matcha and White Chocolate Popcorn Recipe »

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Champagne Cake Roll With White Chocolate (White Chocolate Bûche de Noël)

[Photograph: Nila Jones]

This cake is about as impressive—and festive—as it gets. To make it, we roll a sheet cake around a Champagne buttercream, which is finished with decorative shards of white chocolate and sugar pearls.

Champagne Cake Roll With White Chocolate (White Chocolate Bûche de Noël) Recipe »

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Fresh Basil Mousse

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

White chocolate plays a supporting role in this vibrant basil mousse. To make it, fresh basil is mashed to a pulp with some granulated sugar, and the basil-sugar pulp is steeped in a mixture of milk, white chocolate, and gelatin, which, when strained, forms the flavor base for an eggless custard. Once cool, the base is whipped until it’s smooth, and then whipped cream is folded in to finish.

Fresh Basil Mousse Recipe »

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Malted Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

For these cookies, chunks of white chocolate and pecans complement the crisp-chewy cookies perfectly, adding a little richness to go alongside the malty flavor imparted by the barley malt syrup included in the cookie dough. You can use whatever chocolate you like, of course, but be sure to skip store-bought chocolate chips.

Malted Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies Recipe »

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Pumpkin Skillet Coffee Cake With Streusel Topping

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Ground or grated white chocolate gives this pumpkin skillet coffee cake a nice and moist crumb, but it also lends it a little fudginess, too. Think of it as a cross between a pumpkin streusel muffin and a blondie(!).

Pumpkin Skillet Coffee Cake With Streusel Topping Recipe »

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Homemade Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars

These pitch-perfect clones of Strawberry Shortcake Bars are wonderful for many reasons: the vibrant strawberry flavor from freeze-dried strawberries; the perfectly light interior, thanks to the frozen Swiss meringue; the small hit of rose water to counteract the way freezing can mute the flavor of the fruit. But the whole thing wouldn’t work without the white chocolate glaze, which helps the coating stick and stays crisp, which provides a pleasing textural contrast with the soft no-churn ice cream it contains.

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars Recipe »

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This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

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Special Sauce: Nik Sharma on the Stories Told by Seasoning

Special Sauce: Nik Sharma on the Stories Told by Seasoning

[Nik Sharma photograph: Courtesy of Nik Sharma. Biscuit photograph: Vicky Wasik] Cookbook author (Seasons: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food), blogger (A Brown Table), and newspaper columnist (A Brown Kitchen) Nik Sharma made the perfect Special Sauce guest. Why? He has a great, dramatic story, and he […]