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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asian Noodles with Bok Choy, Shiitake, and Tofu

Because it's OK to change your mind at the last minute.

I have been in quite the creative slump for the past two weeks.  I had spent about a week and a half house-sitting for a friend, and while he has a beautiful house with a fantastic kitchen, I never really felt inspired to cook anything new.  I mean, I did cook twice, but not anything worth blogging about.  I just haven't had any good ideas.  I blame it on school.  My brain is fried.  I've checked out.  I'm less than two weeks away from graduating and I can't wait.
Moving on... 

This dish- or rather, the original idea for this dish- was actually inspired by my culinary tourism class.  We're nearing the end of the semester, and our last unit covered tourism in Asia.  We watched several videos on Korea, Laos, Singapore, Shanghai, and Malaysia.  In these videos, there were so many beautiful looking noodle dishes, with broth and fresh veggies, that I was dying to whip something like that up myself.  I bought all the groceries I needed on Sunday, but by 9:30 last night I still hadn't cooked anything and was in desperate need for food.  So my idea for a long-simmering broth with noodles and vegetables, served with breaded and baked tofu turned into something quicker and easier.  And boy is it delicious!

Instead of a soup, this is more like a noodley stir-fry.  The sauce has a kick, which I enjoy, but if you don't like a lot of heat, I would skip the red pepper flakes.  Also, this makes a ton of food, so share it with friends!  Or strangers, whatever.

I'm feeling pretty pumped that my recipe creativity is slowly coming back.  Now to figure out what to make for Easter...

14 oz extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
3 tsp sesame oil, divided
14 oz stir-fry rice noodles
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 stems green onion, thinly sliced
1 large bunch bok choy, trimmed, stalks chopped and leaves roughly chopped or torn
2 cups veg broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp molasses
2 tsp chili garlic paste
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tsp of the sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add the cubed tofu in one layer and cook on each side until lightly browned.  This might take up to 10 minutes.  It did for me, anyway.  Take the tofu out of the pan and put it on a plate, or in a bowl, or whatever.  Just let it hang out for a sec.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the rice noodles as directed on the package.  In the meantime, get that pan back on the stove and add one more tsp of sesame oil.  Toss in the mushrooms, bok choy stems, and green onion, and saute for about 7 min.  Stir occasionally, and while that's cooking, make the sauce.
In a large bowl, whisk together the veg broth, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, molasses, chili paste, cornstarch, Chinese five spice, and red pepper flakes (if using).  Toss the tofu back into the pan with the veggies and add the bok choy leaves.  Pour in the sauce and turn the heat up a bit so that it starts bubbling.  Once the sauce starts to thicken, turn the heat back to medium.
At this point, the noodles should be done.  Drain and return them to the pot.  Pour in the sauce and veggies and stir to coat all noodles.  Serve hot.

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