Tag Asian

Udon Noodles with Soy-Ginger Sauce

I realized, as I was writing about grilled salmon yesterday, that my recipe for Udon Noodles with a Soy-Ginger Sauce was buried in a post about tofu! I could hardly find it and I knew it was there. So I decided to re-post it.

(Note to self: Make this again soon so you can re-photograph it with your new camera!)

 

Ingredients

1 lb udon noodles
4-6 portobello mushrooms (depending on size and how much you like mushrooms), halved and then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (green, Napa, or Savoy)
1/2 to 2/3rds of a bunch of scallions, washed and chopped (use most of the scallion, cutting the whites into fine slices, the green ends into 1/4 inch pieces, and throwing away the fibrous middle)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inches ginger, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet mirin (a cooking wine sold in the Asian foods section of any well-stocked supermarket)

(A quick note about the sauce: you can make and add more or less sauce depending on how juicy you like it. Just remember the 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to mirin.)

While a big pot of water is heating up, prep the garlic, ginger, scallions, mushrooms and cabbage.
Make the sauce
When the water is boiling, add the udon and a generous handful of salt and set the timer for 6 minutes.
Heat a wok or frying pan, then add oil to coat.
When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds.
Add the mushrooms and toss to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and cover. Take off the lid every minute to stir and check the mushrooms. If they are done before the noodles, turn the burner off.
When the timer goes off, rinse the noodles in cold water. They should be a bit undercooked — chewy but not crunchy.
Push the mushrooms to the sides of the wok or pan, add the sauce and turn the heat to high. Add the noodles and the cabbage and toss for 1-2 minutes or until the cabbage is warmed and the noodles are coated in sauce and fully cooked. Turn off the heat and mix in the scallions.

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The Cook’s Birthday, Myers + Chang, and Genki Ya

It’s been a slow two weeks at The Roasted Beet for various reasons: a house guest, a friend in the hospital, a stomach bug, a bad back and The Cook’s birthday!

“Birthday girls don’t cook,” I told The Professor. “So we are going out to Myers + Chang for Chinese or ordering sushi from Genki Ya.”

I adore Myers + Chang. No doubt there are restaurants in Boston’s Chinatown that serve more traditional Chinese food. But I dream about M&C’s dumplings, plump with shiitake mushrooms and Chinese greens, not to mention the red-miso-glazed carrots. Mmmmm … I must sign up for the next M&C cooking class.

That said, faced with the prospect of finding a parking space in the South End, lugging the baby+car seat=20 pounds many blocks, and then trying to keep Ella from running wild, we ordered in from Genki Ya, my favorite Japanese delivery joint.

And. Yum. Yum.

I could write a long post about why people wanting to eat less meat should eat more Japanese food, but here’s the short version: Japanese cuisine isn’t meat-centric, doesn’t treat vegetables and grains as an after-thought, and is full of interesting flavors.

Baked Tofu

The search for a vegetarian version of my udon noodles with a soy-ginger sauce continues. A quick recap: The pescatarian version of my udon noodles — topped with roasted salmon — earns an A from The Professor.

But I’ve been trying to develop a vegetarian version.

Photo by Chris Wells

For my first attempt, I used fried cubes of tofu bought at Whole Foods, but the cubes were too big and required cutting. Early in our marriage, when I was still passionate about our wedding presents, I would have jumped at the opportunity to use the new steak knives. But, while I still love the knives (thanks again, Ruth and Andras!), using them to re-cube the tofu mid-meal was a drag.

I decided to fry my own. So next time, I sliced a brick of tofu in two, pressed out the water, and cut the halves into perfectly bite-able cubes. But things went downhill from there … and I decided to try baking

Again, I sliced the brick of tofu in half the long way and pressed out the excess water. I let it sit in a marinade of soy sauce, mirin, garlic and ginger. And then I baked it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. And then another 5 minutes. And another five. I kept hoping that the tofu would start to crisp!

Eventually I gave up and served it. The result: the tofu was definitely tasty and brought more flavor to the dish than the unseasoned fried versions I’d already tried. But it was also spongy. It lacked any crispness.

“If you’d never served me the noodles with salmon, I might have thought this was great,” said The Professor. “But it’s definitely not as good as the version with fish.”

So the search continues. But I am optimistic, in part because my friend Joanne, who doesn’t cook, offered up her fiance, who does. I’m hoping to get a lesson in frying tofu from Sean soon.

Fried Tofu … A Tale of Woe

Last night I made soy-ginger udon noodles with mushrooms … and tofu. I have often served the Asian noodles topped with roasted salmon, and that’s been a hit.

Udon Noodles topped with Salmon

But because my ultimate goal here is to find or develop great vegetarian (rather than pescatarian) dishes, I’ve been trying to create a version with fried tofu.

Sigh.

For my first attempt I bought cubes of fried tofu from my local Whole Foods. They were tasty and not too fried, so they didn’t sit like lead in your stomach. But they were also big — so big you couldn’t comfortably get some noodles and a whole cube of tofu into your mouth at the same time.

For my second attempt, I thought I’d just fry up the tofu at home. I diligently pressed the tofu to squeeze out the water, sliced it, heated up a few tablespoons of peanut oil, and tossed the little cubes into the pan. “It will take a few minutes for the tofu to turn golden,” Deborah Madison had advised. So I cleaned some mushrooms while they began to fry. When I turned back to the stove to flip the cubes, I found they were sticking to the pan. Hot oil was spattering, the baby was crying, and eventually I ditched my tongs for a metal spatula and began scraping the little cubes off of the pan’s surface.

My first attempt to fry tofu

Was the pan too hot — or not hot enough? Had I not dried the tofu off enough? Or should I have just used a non-stick pan? I don’t yet know.

On the positive side, the slight crunch of the somewhat overcooked tofu added a nice texture to the dish. That said, next time I think I’ll try baking it.

Simple, Delicious Salmon

Cooking fish can be tricky. It’s easy to worry about under-cooking it and then over-cook it by  mistake. We cook some kind of seafood at least once a week, and yet so often I hesitate to say that the fish is done. I’ll offer my tips for cooking fish well in a later post. For now I want to share a recipe for salmon that is simple, delicious, and truly idiot-proof.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 T oil
2 cloves of garlic, mashed with salt
1 T minced ginger
2 T brown sugar

1 lb salmon, washed and dried

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce and pour over salmon to marinate

Roast fish for about 10 minutes, basting with the sauce once or twice. (If the sugar in the marinade starts to burn, lower the rack.) And voila!

The marinade keeps the fish so moist that even if you over-cook it a bit, it never tastes dry. Last night, as you can see from the photo, I served it over Udon Noodles with Soy-ginger sauce, a preparation that earned an A from The Professor.

For a heart-warming winter meal, serve the salmon on a bed of leek and pea risotto. In the summer, I’ve served the salmon alongside Israeli couscous and grilled asparagus. For a lighter meal, it would be delicious served with a spinach salad.

I love this salmon recipe because it’s simple to prepare, offers myriad meal options, and it is endlessly forgiving — which makes it great for dinner parties or even family dinners with multiple elements. I know that the salmon can sit while the pasta cooks a few more minutes or the asparagus is grilled or the guests are herded to the table and that it will still taste good.

Tofu or not Tofu

Tofu is a healthy source of protein, no doubt. It’s also the plastic of food products — it can be formed into just about any form, texture, and flavor from deli-like slices of “bologna” and “turkey” to soy pepperoni, soy chicken nuggets, and meatless ground beef. The myriad soy products out there constitute an impressive feat of food engineering, and personally, I love Tofurky’s Italian sausages and WildWood’s Spicy Southwestern Veggie Burgers. But would I serve them to The Professor? Not a chance. When it comes to meat-eaters, soy products masquerading as meat products are doomed to fail.

So can you ever serve soy products to a carnivore? Yes, but only in two forms. First, the humble soy bean. Do you know anyone who doesn’t like edamame, as the Japanese call young soy beans? The Professor and my toddler will both gobble them down (and I plan to find or develop some recipes using the little green beans soon). Second, as straight-up tofu — I recommend it cubed and fried, and buy it freshly prepared that way at my local Whole Foods.

Now let me just say, I wouldn’t have served tofu for dinner if the Professor hadn’t suggested it as a possible addition to a dish he already likes: Udon Noodles with Soy-Ginger sauce. In the past, I’ve served it topped with salmon (a recipe I’ll share in my next post). But in the interest of creating a more strictly vegetarian version, and with The Professor’s permission, we tried tofu.

You’ll need:
1 lb udon noodles
1/2 lb fried tofu
4-6 portobello mushrooms (depending on size and how much you like mushrooms), halved and then sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage (green, Napa, or Savoy)
1/2 to 2/3rds of a bunch of scallions, washed and chopped (use the whole scallion, cutting the whites into fine slices and the green ends into 1/4 inch pieces)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 inches ginger, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sweet mirin (a cooking wine sold in the Asian foods section of any well-stocked supermarket)

(A quick note about the sauce: you can make and add more or less sauce depending on how juicy you like it. Just remember the 2:1 ratio of soy sauce to mirin.)

While a big pot of water is heating up, prep the garlic, ginger, scallions, mushrooms and cabbage.
Make the sauce
When the water is boiling, add the udon and a generous handful of salt and set the timer for 6 minutes.
Heat a wok or frying pan, then add oil to coat.
When the oil shimmers add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently for 30 seconds.
Add the mushrooms and toss to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and cover. Take off the lid every minute to stir and check the mushrooms. If they are done before the noodles, turn the burner off.
When the timer goes off, rinse the noodles in cold water. They should be a bit undercooked — chewy but not crunchy.
Push the mushrooms to the sides of the wok or pan, add the sauce and turn the heat to high. Add the noodles, the tofu, and the cabbage and toss until the tofu is warmed and the noodles are coated in sauce and fully cooked. Turn off the heat and mix in the scallions.

Now, The Professor gave the noodles with tofu a B, in part because the cubes were a bit too big. But he welcomed a second attempt … more on that soon.