Singapore Stir Fried Veggie Noodles

Singapore Stir Fried Veggie Noodles

Serves 2 to 3

 

Spicy, rich and flavorful, this is a speedy twist from the Malaysian restaurant classic in the vein of “dry” style fried noodles with an extra helping of chiles and abundant crunchy vegetables. For milder noodles omit the chile garlic sauce, but keep the tobanjan sauce; after you’ve made the Mapo tofu, this fermented chile bean sauce gracefully stands in for traditional Malaysian fermented bean paste.

 

Like any stir fry, this beautifully absorbs any stray vegetables in need of using: broccoli, snow peas, bell peppers, Asian greens, ribbons of kale. Make sure to dice or slice these vegetables into thin bite sized pieces; if using thick, heavy vegetables like cauliflower or broccoli, slice very thin and sauté separately for a few minutes until tender, then add along with the noodles toward the end.

 

 

Stir fry

12 ounces vermicelli-style rice noodles

2 tablespoons canola oil

8 ounces fried Chinese tofu, baked pressed tofu or 1 recipe Baked Basic Tofu, sliced into ½ thick cubes

1/2 pound green beans or long beans, sliced into 3 inch pieces

1 tablespoon minced ginger

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

6 scallions, green tops only, sliced into ½ inch pieces or ¼ pound garlic chives

3 cups thinly shredded green, Napa or Savoy cabbage

1/2 pound mung bean sprouts, optional

1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

 

Sauce

¼ heaping cup tobanjan garlic bean sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably thin Chinese or Thai soy sauce)

2 tablespoons sugar or agave nectar

4 teaspoons Asian chile garlic sauce (such as sriracha)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 cup vegetable broth

 

 

Optional garnish:

1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely ground

 

1. Cook the noodles according to package direction, slightly undercooking them by 1 to 2 minutes to keep the noodles firm during the frying process. Rinse with plenty of cold water, drain well and set aside. While the noodles are boiling, chop and set aside all the remaining ingredients.

 

2. In a small liquid measuring cup or mug whisk together the sauce ingredients. Preheat a wok over high heat, then pour in 1 teaspoon of oil.

 

3. Add the tofu and stir fry for 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown, then transfer to a plate. Add another teaspoon of oil, add the green beans and stir fry for about 2 minutes until crisp tender, then transfer to the plate. Heat another teaspoon of oil, stir fry the cabbage until crisp tender, about 2 to 2 ½ minutes, and transfer to the plate with the other veggies.

 

4. For best result, stir fry two batches of noodles instead of one big batch; divide the remaining oil, ginger, garlic, shallots, and scallions in half.

 

5. Add one half of the oil to the hot wok and stir in the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 15 seconds, then add the shallots and white parts of scallions. Stir fry for 1 minute or until the shallots are soft. Add half of the fried tofu, green beans, and cabbage and stir fry another 2 minutes. Add half of the noodles, bean sprouts, green tops of scallions, and pour on half of the sauce. Vigorously stir fry, using tongs to lift up and toss the noodles to coat in sauce for 3 to 5 minutes or until the noodles are hot and bright yellow from the turmeric. Add half of the cilantro and stir for 1 more minute. Taste and season with more soy sauce, as needed.

 

6. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with some peanuts. Make another serving with remaining ingredients. Serve it hot!

Mostly Mediterranean Eggplant Parmigiana

Mostly Mediterranean Eggplant Parmigiana

Serves 4 with a salad

 

Lighten up, eggplant parmigiana! This version of an old warhorse of Italiano cuisine tips a hand (leaf?) to its Sicilian origins and pan Mediterranean influences, forgoing the heavy breadcrumb crust seen in the American versions and opting instead for bare slices cooked with olive oil; in this instance I roast the naked eggplant strips instead of frying, making it an lighter, juicier, gluten-free dish with fewer steps in the preparation.

 

Food historians like to debate over the use of “parma” in the name of this dish, suggesting that it probably does not refer to the well-known cheese or the Italian city, but instead derived from an old Persian word used for wooden shutters…perhaps because the strips of eggplant layered in a casserole look just like layered wooden planks? Who knows, but wherever it’s from I prefer the simplicity and don’t miss slapping crumbs onto the eggplant that turn to mush after baking in the sauce. But why stop at the Persian name when the sauce can be further enhanced with Middle Eastern spices (some Persian spice blend baharat and fruity hot Aleppo red pepper), and sealed with an “almost” Bechamel sauce from the Greek Pastichio casserole (page XX) which bakes up into a golden, creamy, fluffy topping. If you have a little bit of extra Chickpea Parmasiano (from making the farro soup on page XX), sprinkle it on top before baking for additional zest.

 

If possible, allow this casserole to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing. The flavors further develop from a generous cooling, and the once boiling hot sauce won’t burn your dainty mouth. Serve with a green salad and fresh crusty peasant style bread.

 

As with any eggplant dish, salting the slices beforehand is great way to tame older, bitter, seedy supermarket eggplant. If your eggplant is plucked right from the garden or farmer’s market, skip the salting step and proceed directly to roasting.

 

Time save tip: Shortcut this dish even further by using a 25 ounce jar of your favorite prepared all natural tomato basil pasta sauce. Whisk in the Persian 7 Spice and the Allepo pepper into the unheated sauce before layering in the casserole.

 

Eggplant:

3 pounds purple globe eggplant

Olive oil cooking spray or olive oil for brushing

 

Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled

Two 14 ounce cans plain tomato sauce

2 teaspoons dried oregano or dried mixed Italian herb seasoning

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 1 teaspoon dried basil

¾ teaspoon Persian 7 Spice blend (baharat) or ¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon, coriander, and cumin

1 teaspoon Aleppo red pepper or red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

1 recipe Silken Almost-Bechamel topping topping from Pastichio “vegani”, Greek layered pasta casserole

1/2 cup Chickpea Parmasiano, optional

 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Wash eggplants, remove flower end, and slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick strips. Layer in a large metal colander, occasionally sprinkling the slices with a pinch of salt. Top with a dinner plate, place in a sink or bowl and place a heavy weight (a few cans or a bag of rice) and set the eggplant aside for 20 minutes to soften. When the oven is ready, transfer the eggplant to the baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Spray or brush both sides with a light coating of olive oil. Roast eggplant for 12 to 14 minutes on each side, or until the flesh is tender and beginning to brown. Use a spatula to flip each piece over once. Transfer eggplant to a plate and repeat with any remaining eggplant.

 

2. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the sauce: in a 2 quart saucepan, preheat olive oil over medium heat then stir in garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer sauce for 15 minutes, then turn off heat and set aside. In a blender or food processor pulse together the ingredients for the béchamel sauce until either smooth or slightly chunky and set aside.

 

3. To assemble the casserole, spoon 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 14 x 3 inch or slightly smaller ceramic baking dish. Layer half of the eggplant (overlapping slices as needed), then top with remaining sauce. If you’re using the Chickpea Parmasiano, sprinkle half of that over the sauce. Layer on the remaining eggplant and spread remaining sauce on top. Spread over the sauce the Silken Almost Bechamel to the edges of the pan; it’s okay if some of the sauce swirls into the creamy topping. If desired sprinkle with remaining Chickpea Parmasiano or a generous pinch of more dried oregano or basil. Bake for 45 minutes; the creamy topping should be rich golden brown and the sauce rapidly bubbling up from underneath. Set the boiling hot casserole aside for at least 20 minutes or longer to cool. Use a sharp, serrated knife to slice and a wide bent spatula to scoop up and serve.

Brown Basmati Biryani with Chickpeas and Cashews

Brown Basmati Biryani with Chickpeas and Cashews  
Serves 6 to 8

Biryani is a lavish rice pilaf that when prepared especially for vegans becomes the perfect one stop meal. Prepared with brown rice it’s packed with nourishing goodness: for better tasting results using long grain brown rice I’ve borrowed the precooking technique from tadig (page XX) for a hearty brown rice main dish with with lighter, firmer grains of rice tossed with toothsome vegetables, chewy raisins and crunchier toasted nuts.

 

If desired, toss a few green cardamom pods on top of the rice after you’ve added all the vegetables and right before the final cooking step, but be sure to either remove them before serving.

 

Serve with Cashew Yogurt Sauce and a chutney for a complete meal; the leftovers reheat beautifully.

Precooked brown basmati
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt

Biryani
1/2 cup cashew pieces or sliced almonds

½ cup golden raisins
1 large red onion, peeled, sliced in half and sliced into thin 1/4 inch wide half moons

2 cups diced cauliflower florets

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or virgin coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 inch cube ginger, peeled and minced
2 green chile peppers, finely minced
2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

½ cup vegetable broth or water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

¼ cup chopped cilantro

 

1. Place the rice in a large metal mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse with cold water. In a large 4 quart pot bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the salt and then add the rice. Boil the rice for 35 to 45 minutes; the rice is done when the grains are tender with a slightly chewy finish, but no crunchy cores in the rice. Drain the rice in the metal strainer and spread rice onto the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Set rice aside to cool for 20 minutes.

 

2.  In a large, deep 12 inch skillet over medium heat, dry roast the cashews for 3 minutes or until just starting to turn golden on the edges; add the raisins and stir fry for 30 seconds or until raisins just begin to turn golden brown, but watch carefully to avoid burning. Transfer the nuts and raisins to a plate and set aside.

 

3. Add the onion to the dry pan and fry for 5 minute or until the onions are softened and golden, then add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry for another 5 minutes until lightly caramelized and soft; transfer to a plate. Transfer the onions to a separate dish. Add the cauliflower and sauté for 5 minutes or until the edges of the cauliflower are browned, then transfer to the plate with the onions. If necessary add a teaspoons or two of oil while sautéing the cauliflower to prevent any sticking.
4. Add the remaining oil and fry the garlic, ginger, and chiles for 1 minute. Add the rice, onions, cauliflower, garam masala, turmeric, chickpeas, green peas, vegetable broth or water, and salt. Stir well, partially cover the pan and cook until rice and vegetables are heated throughout, about 6 to 8 minutes. If the rice is still damp, uncover and continue to cook for until dry. Turn off heat, fold in the cashews, raisins, lime juice, and cilantro. If preferred, spread the rice onto a platter and sprinkle with cashew raisin mixture for an elegant dish. Sprinkle serve with any chutney or Cashew Yogurt Sauce.

Sweet Potato Ramen Noodle Soup in Silky Sesame Broth Sweet Potato Ramen Noodle Soup in Silky Sesame Broth

Sweet Potato Ramen Noodle Soup in Silky Sesame Broth

Makes 4 large servings

 

Japanese ramen noodle soups are insanely popular, but typically loaded with off limits animal products. The broth can vary widely depending on where it hails from, but this opaque, creamy colored broth imitates the some of the richer style of ramen broths with help from miso and smoky, nutty tahini. The elaborate toppings, including unconventional roasted sweet potato, really make the soup special, so consider preparing the sweet potato and corn in advance and gently heating before serving to help spread out the preparation. Ramen noodles are not even essential for the enjoyment of this soup; easy to find udon noodles work just as well, or for a heartier soup use buckwheat soba noodles.

 

Ingredient tip: Japanese sweet potatoes, also known as satsuma-imo, typically have a reddish skin and pale yellow flesh. They’re sweeter and drier in texture than American orange sweet potatoes, which can be substituted for these in this dish; American sweet potatoes may require a little extra baking time, about 4 to 6 minutes.

 

Soup toppings:

4 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided in half

1 1/2 pounds Japanese sweet potato (satsuma-imo), scrubbed and diced into 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups corn kernels

1 cup finely shredded green cabbage

4 scallions, root ends trimmed and sliced paper thin

4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

4 tablespoons pickled ginger slices, sliced into thinnest shreds possible

1 sheet toasted nori seaweed, cut into 1/2 inch wide strips

Wasabi paste, as desired

 

Noodles and soup

10 ounces dry ramen noodles, dry udon noodles or dry buckwheat soba noodles

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

6 dried shiitke mushrooms

2 cups boiling water

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch wide half moons

2 three inch pieces kombu seaweed

6 cups water

1 pound silken tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch cubes (see page XX for slicing tips)

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons mirin cooking wine

⅔ cup white miso paste, such as shiro miso

1/3 cup sesame tahini

4 cups spinach leaves or roughly chopped bok choy leaves

 

 

1. Prepare the soup toppings first: preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss sweet potato cubes with half of oil, spread in an even layer on the baking sheet and roast for 22 to 24 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally until sweet potato is tender. Turn off oven and keep sweet potato warm. Preheat the remaining oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium heat, add the corn and saute for 3 minutes or until corn is tender, then remove from heat and set aside. Keep the nori seaweed strips away from wet ingredients until it’s serving time.

 

2. In a large 3 quart soup pot bring water and salt to a rolling boil; slide in noodles and cook for 8  minutes or until tender but still firm (al dente). Drain and rinse well with cold water, then toss with sesame oil. In a mixing bowl cover dried shiitaki mushrooms with 2 cups of boiling water and let stand for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove the mushrooms, discard any hard stems and slice into very thin strips. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through cheesecloth or a fine metal mesh sieve to remove any grit and set aside.

 

3. In a large 4 quart soup pot preheat the oil over medium heat, add the onion and fry for 4 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and chopped white part of the scallions and fry for another minute, then pour in the 6 cups of water and reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Add the kombu strip, increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and bring the soup to gentle simmer, then stir in sliced mushrooms, tofu, soy sauce, and mirin. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

 

4. Scoop the miso and the tahini into a mixing bowl and stir in 1 cup of hot broth. Use a rubber spatula to stir the broth into the miso and tahini to form a smooth sauce and stir this back into the soup. Stir in the spinach or bok choy leaves and continue to simmer until the leaves are wilted and tender, about 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the soup covered. Remove and discard the kombu strip before serving the soup.

 

5. Divide the noodles into large, deep serving bowls. Ladle the soup on top of the noodles, making sure to distribute plenty of tofu, spinach and mushrooms along with lots of broth in each bowl. Top each soup with a handful of roasted sweet potato cubes, 1/2 cup corn kernels, and a 1/4 cup green cabbage shreds. Scatter on top of this 1 chopped scallion, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon sliced pickled ginger, and a quarter of the nori seaweed shreds. Serve with wasabi paste for diners to stir into their soup as desired.

 

Serve each bowl of soup right away with both chopsticks and big wide soup spoons.

Persian 7 Spice Blend (Baharat)

Testers, please let me know how much this made. Thanks, the mngmnt. P.S. use this in the bisteeya, tadig, or throw into any middle eastern salad or sprinkle on pita

 

Persian 7 Spice Blend (Baharat)

 

Baharat is a fragrant blend of sweet spices that enhance many Middle Eastern dishes, especially rice or roasted seitan; to our Western palates this warm, mild blend may remind us of the foods of fall. Grind and use within 3 months for best flavor.

 

6 green cardamom pods or 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

2 tablespoons cumin sees

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

10 cloves

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or mace

 

 

1. With your fingers or the tip of a sharp paring knife, open the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. I usually find it easiest to slice each pod horizontally, break open the pod and shake out the seeds. Discard the empty pods.

 

1. In a small skillet over medium heat toast together the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cloves for about 2 1/2 minutes. Watch the spices carefully to make sure they don’t burn; when the spices become fragrant it’s time to transfer them to a small bowl.

 

2. Grind all of the toasted whole spices together in a clean coffee grinder as fine as possible. Add the remaining ground spices and pulse a few times until everything is combined. Store the spices in a clean glass jar, tightly sealed. Use within 3 months for the best flavor.