Red Curry Noodles

Happy finals week everyone! Clearly my motivation for studying is at an all-time high, since I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee all weekend and taking a few breaks to attempt to study… But regardless, spring quarter is almost over here at UW, and I am way too excited to go home to California for a little bit once finals are over, before we come back for summer classes.

I made these curry noodles for dinner earlier this week, and they turned out even better than I expected! I wanted to try making curry noodles without have the noodles swimming in soup, so I experimented by cooking fresh noodles in a curry sauce of coconut milk and curry paste, and the noodles absorbed most of the liquid, resulting in soft, flavorful noodles that could be eaten off a plate! We just had an H-mart open up near campus, so I got a few of my ingredients from there. I can’t remember exactly what kind of noodles I used, but they were some kind of fresh noodles, flour-based, and the package contained 3 servings, so here’s my best guess at the recipe!

Red Curry Noodles

Makes 5-6 servings

4 green onions, sliced

3 slices fresh ginger

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp olive oil

9 shiitake mushrooms (I used dried), sliced

5 heads baby bok choy, stalks sliced and leaves intact

2 tsp canola oil

1 16oz block of firm tofu, drained and cubed

1 14oz can coconut milk

2 tbsp red curry paste

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp lime juice

16-20 oz flour noodles, flat variety (or use whatever noodles look good to you, about 3 servings worth)

Directions

In a large saucepan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the green onions and garlic until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and bok choy stems and allow to cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan and heat the canola oil in the center. Add the tofu and cook for a couple minutes on each side, allowing to brown slightly. While the veggies are cooking, whisk together the coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and lime juice.

Remove the veggies and tofu from the pan and pour in the curry sauce. Add the noodles to the pot and stir to separate the noodles. Cover the pan and allow the noodle to cook for a couple minutes and absorb the liquid. Add the veggies and tofu back into the pan and stir to combine. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Vegetarian Chao Mian (Chow Mein) and Gai Lan

I’ve been craving a lot of Chinese food recently. I think it’s because I miss home and my mom’s delicious home-cooking. However, Chinese New Year just happened, so I took advantage of some of the sales at the Asian market and picked up some ingredients for some of my favorite comfort foods. Then I got a coupon for a discount off my next purchase so obviously I had to go back… Anyway, this is one of the meals I cooked for myself recently, and it’s been the perfect comfort food for the dreary and drizzly week we’ve been having here in Seattle.

I decided to make chao mian, then add a side of gai lan (Chinese broccoli) to have a little more green on my plate. I’ve never made gai lan, but it turns out, it’s super easy and fast! You just boil some water, drop the gai lan in, cook for a few minutes, and then remove it and you’re done! Drizzle a little oyster sauce on top and it’s just like off a dim sum cart.

As for the chao mian, I prefer the thicker noodles, so that’s what I used, but you can use whatever kind of stir fry noodles you’d like. You can also change up the vegetables to be whatever you’d like, this is just the combination I had on hand. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for the sauce, this is just the blend of flavors I always use and like, and it’s a combination of the Chinese sauces we keep in the fridge at home. I also don’t really use exact measurements, I just add sauces, mix it up, and taste it until I like what I taste.

So here’s my version of Chinese comfort food!

Chao Mian

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

½ block of high protein tofu, sliced into thin rectangles

2 tsp olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, sliced

8-10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 large carrot or about ¾ cup baby carrots, sliced thin

2 tsp canola oil

32 oz package noodles (I used miki noodles, a thick Shanghai stir fry noodle)

½ head of napa cabbage, sliced

Sauce (approximate measurements, I just pour sauces in and mix until the flavor is good)

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

3 slices of ginger

1 tbsp marsala wine/cooking sherry

Directions

Mix up the sauce ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup. Slice the tofu and add to the sauce to allow it to marinate.

Chop the garlic, green onions, mushrooms, and carrots. Heat a deep skillet or wok over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Cook the garlic and green onions until fragrant, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook until slightly tender the mushrooms start to release their juices. Make a well in the middle of the vegetables and turn up the heat to medium-high. Heat the canola oil. Add the tofu to the skillet in the canola oil and allow to brown, stirring every couple minutes. Reserve the marinating sauce to add later.

Once the tofu is browned to your liking, add the noodles and the remaining sauce. Cover and allow to steam-cook for a few minutes to warm and soften the noodles. While you are waiting for the noodles to cook, chop the napa cabbage crosswise. Add the cabbage to the skillet and stir to incorporate the sauce. Reduce heat to medium or medium low and cook until the cabbage is as soft as you prefer. Stir the noodles to distribute the toppings, and serve warm. Enjoy!

Gai Lan

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 bunches gai lan

Oyster sauce

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the gai lan and blanch for 2-3 minutes, longer if you want it softer. Remove from the water and drain.

In a small saucepan, thin the oyster sauce with a little water and cook over medium heat for a minute or so. Drizzle over the gai lan. Enjoy!

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Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Rice Cake)

I love Asian markets. My friend took me to one yesterday, and walking down the aisles was like a walk down memory lane. They had the peanuts with the shells still on, and it reminded me of when I would sit at the table with my grandpa and we would just crack and eat peanuts, making a huge pile of peanut shells on a napkin between the two of us. All the different types of noodles just made me crave my mom’s cooking, and a good stir fry. But the main reason we went to the Asian store was to get nian gao, the flat, oval, sticky rice cakes which are delicious stir-fried in a simple sauce. While classified as a rice cake, they’re sort of a mix between noodles and rice cakes. This is a savory version, but sweet versions of nian gao are also made for dessert, but tend to come more in block or log form, rather than the oval noodle form used for this dish. I actually don’t really like the sweet kind, but the stir-fried variety is my favorite dish, and something I can eat an embarrassing amount of in one sitting. Good thing I had plenty of friends to share it with last night, or I would have ended up eating the whole thing by myself!

The sauce for this dish is very simple: soy sauce, oyster sauce, a bit of sugar, a splash of wine, and a couple slices of ginger. They all come together to give this dish a lightly sweet and deliciously savory flavor. I love how the sticky rice cakes soak in the flavor, and I love their soft, chewy texture. The noodles are complimented by cabbage, mushrooms, and marinated tofu, although you can really add whatever vegetables you like. This would be great with bok choy, any kind of meat, carrots, and a variety of other vegetables. This is just my personal favorite version.

Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

24 oz rice cakes, found at Asian markets

19 oz extra firm tofu, sliced

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup oyster sauce

2 tbsp white wine

5-6 slices fresh ginger

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp olive oil

4 green onions, sliced

1 tbsp crushed garlic

4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 head cabbage, shredded

Directions

Two hours before you plan to serve dinner, place the rice cakes into a large bowl, then cover with very hot or boiling water and allow to soak for at least an hour, until the rice cakes soften.

Slice the tofu into thick matchsticks, then place in a shallow dish. Whisk together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, wine, ginger slices, and sugar, and pour over the tofu. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the tofu to marinate for at least an hour. While the noodles soak and the tofu marinates, you can slice all the vegetables.

When you are ready to start cooking, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the green onions, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the cabbage and a splash of water, cover, and allow the cabbage to wilt. The cabbage should reduce to about half the volume. Remove the veggies from the saucepan.

Drain the rice cakes and add to the pan over medium heat. Add the tofu and marinade and stir to coat the noodles with sauce. Heat until the noodles and tofu are heated through, then add the vegetables back in and stir to combine. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Letting the noodles soak is important to do a couple hours ahead of time, so they soften up in time to cook!

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Another great thing about the sauce is that it acts as a marinade and a sauce

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Cook the veggies first

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Then the noodles and tofu

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Then mix it all together!

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The best Chinese comfort food 🙂