Documenting the struggles of one woman trying to live recipe-free.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Green Noodle Stir Fry
I love where we live on the southern side of Seattle partly because we're so close to the International District, not just Seattle's Chinatown, but also home to Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants, shops, and bakeries. There's a restaurant there that specializes in food from Shanghai: yummy steamed dumplings filled with soup made even tastier when you dip them in tangy red vinegar, a pan fried cake which like all Chinese desserts is perfectly not too sweet, and best of all-- hand-shaven green barley noodles. These beautiful noodles are jade green, slightly chewy (or as a reader review I once read accurately described them, the texture of spaetzle) and come to your table stir fried with your choice of meat.
On the last Sunday before the bar exam, John and I took a study break to go downtown for lunch using the light rail train that opened in mid-July. (I have to specifically acknowledge the light rail as it makes heading into downtown so much more enjoyable than my other, highly irritating, bus option, as it is less crowded and makes the trip in 15 minutes as opposed to the 25+ minute bus ride!) We had a pleasant, quick lunch at the cafe in the basement of Elliott Bay Book Company, then stopped by the Japanese mega mart, Uwajimaya for some frozen yogurt. (Coconut frozen Greek yogurt, fresh mango and black berries-- yum!) Since we felt only slightly guilty about going there just for frozen yogurt we decided to walk through the store to see what other impulse buys we could make. We ended up restocking our staple of Chinese sausages and throwing in some chocolate coconut Pocky sticks for good measure.
While in the refrigerated noodle section, we were about to buy udon noodles when I noticed that familiar, bright jade green color. Labeled "vegetable noodles," I decided to give these a try as a switch-up for what had otherwise become a very tired stir fry rut, thanks to yet another share of snap peas from the CSA.
I ended up stir frying these with some small pieces of pan fried tofu, carrots, snap peas, zucchini and a little scrambled egg. The package directions did not require a par boil, which made for a nice quick meal, but the suggested amount of soy sauce (3/4 cup!) frightened me a little, so I reduced the suggested amounts of soy sauce and water. Plus, this made a lot of leftovers for just the two of us, which worked out great for me since I only had an hour for lunch while sitting for the exam and the 100+ temperatures made me reluctant to go anywhere during that break. I have to say, maybe it was the stress of the bar, but these were even better cold the next day! I hadn't planned on blogging about this when I started out (hence the lack of pictures in this post) but the end result was so pretty, thanks to the vivid green of the noodles and vegetables, contrasted with the bright orange of the carrots and the mellow yellow of the eggs and tofu, I just had to share.
1 package "vegetable" noodles (check your local Asian market for them) 1 16 oz package of super firm tofu, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and drained 1/4 canola oil, plus 1 tbsp 2 carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal 1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly on the diagonal 1 lb snap peas 1/2 tbsp minced ginger 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced 2 green onions, chopped 3/4 cup water 1/4 cup light soy sauce 1-2 tsp sesame oil 3 tsp Siriacha Vietnamese hot sauce salt, pepper 1/2 tsp Five Spice powder
At least an hour before you're going to start cooking, place the block of tofu between two plates and stack a bowl full of water on the top plate to press out the water. Be sure to pour out water and flip over the tofu at least once to drain water out of both sides. Cut the tofu into small pieces (mine were about a 1/4 inch thick and about 1 inch long) and set on a plate lined with paper towel to drain even more water out. The point is to get these as dry as you can to hopefully cut down on splatter.
In a small frying pan (large enough for a single layer of your tofu), heat the 1/4 cup of canola oil over medium high heat. Carefully add the tofu and cover with a splash guard. Cook for about 4-5 minutes then remove from heat and flip the tofu pieces over before returning to the heat for another 4-5 minutes. Keep removing from the heat to turn the pieces until they are golden on all sides. Remove the tofu to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and five spice powder while hot.
In a large pan or wok, heat the 1 tbsp of canola oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the ginger, green onion, and garlic, stirring quickly to keep the garlic from burning for about 30 seconds. Add your carrots, zucchini, and snap peas, cooking for a few minutes or until the colors are their most vivid. Add the noodles, water and soy sauce and continue to cook for about 5 minutes more or until the water has been mostly absorbed and the noodles are heated all the way through. While that's cooking, scramble your eggs in another pan. Add your egg, the Siriacha and sesame oil to the noodle mixture and plate.
This has been a year of terrible personal loss and and terrifying challenges in the form of finishing law school and trying to find a job in this economy. So although the world probably does not need another food blog, I started this as a means of keeping my head above water, to keep me balanced and sane, and to keep tabs on my culinary experimentations. The goal is to live recipe free, to be one of those home cooks who can look at what's available in my community supported agriculture (CSA) share box, on sale at the store, in my husband's garden, or leftover in my refrigerator and transform it into something delicious. I'm translating my efforts into recipes that I can look back on to improve upon or if someone who stumbles on this wants to try it out at home and give me ideas for improvement.
I have no formal cooking training. Anything I know has been gleaned from watching cooking shows, reading food blogs/cookbooks/magazines, and trial and error. I can't say that what I post here is worth replicating at home, but people in my house found it tasty so I'm posting it here primarily for my future reference. Also, if you're a stickler for precise measurements, most of mine are estimates unless it came in a package that told me how much was in it.