Archive for ‘Asian Inspiration’

June 7, 2011

Sesame Tofu and Shrimp Soba Noodles

I almost feel like a broken record with that one. I dunno… I sort of get the impression that I’ve done a million different variations on this same subject. Asian inspired dishes including broccoli, tofu, shrimp and sesame.

Well, what can I say? To me, this is the perfect “quicky meal”, the perfect “let’s-eat-some-veggies-and-clean-up-the-fridge-a-little” dish. Or, the perfect “darn-I-have-no-idea-what-to-make-tonight-let’s-see what’s-in the-fridge-and-whip-something-up” dinner plan.

*No, that’s not a tentacle that grew on the side of the bowl… it’s a green onion who, apparently, decided to jump out… The shrimp must’ve said something scary to him!

AND, it appears that I tend to always have broccoli, bell peppers, tofu and ginger in my fridge… 😉 Oh well! But it doesn’t matter what’s in your fridge really. The beauty of this is that you can use whatever veggies you want or have. Everyone ALWAYS has something in their fridge to whip up some kind of an Asian inspired rice or noodle based stirfry resembling dish, now, don’t they? 😉

Bottom line is, you don’t really need to follow a recipe here. If you don’t have the exact vegetables that are in this recipe, don’t sweat it. Use what you have. You don’t like shrimp? No problem! Use chicken, or eggs, why not?. You don’t care for soba noodles? Use rice instead…

This is one dish where a little bit of this and a little bit of that will get the job done!

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 1)

  • 80g soba noodles
  • 75g extra firm tofu, cut into ½” cubes
  • 6 tail on cooked shrimp (size 31-40)
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • ¼ red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bird’s eye chili peppers
  • 2 green onions, chopped (save some to garnish if you want)
  • 10g ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp tamari sauce
  • A drizzle of sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cook noodles per instruction on package. Throw in your broccoli when your noodles are 30 seconds away from being done, just to give it a quich blanch. Drain and set aside when done.
  2. Meanwhile, coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat it over high heat. When it’s really hot throw in the tofu cubes and mushroom slices and turn the heat down to medium-high.  Cook from 5-10 minutes, until nice  and golden brown.
  3. Add shrimp and the rest of your vegetables and saute for a minute or two, then add tamari sauce, broccoli and noodles. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss quickly just to combine everything.
  4. Transfer to serving bowl (or plate!) and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

May 26, 2011

Broccoli, Tofu and Almond Stirfry

Broccoli was on sale last week and I impulsively bought 3 bunches without having a clear plan as to what I was going to do with all that!

Luckily, my daughter spent the week-end at home and ate a whole bunch to herself (she loves broccoli!) but that still leaves me with 2 bunches that need to be utilized somehow. I hate wasting food. That is something I do not do. So I HAVE to think of ways to use this broccoli. Sure, I could make a soup, but I don’t really feel like eating cream of broccoli right now. I might not have a choice though, so don’t be surprised if you see that make an appearance on the menu next week! 😉

I also happened to have a block of extra firm tofu lying around… Broccoli goes well with tofu and almonds, so I decided to make some sort of an uncomplicated stirfry. There is not much to this recipe, really. It’s veggies, tofu, almonds and tamari sauce.  I didn’t want no fancy shmancy sweet and sour sauce in this one, I really wanted to taste the ingredients for what they truly are.

I have to say, mission accomplished!

This was super quick and easy to make and it tasted super great! What more could you ask for? Rice, maybe!

But you see, I was cooking for one and wanted to use up a good amount of that broccoli, so I decided not to have a side of rice, but you could very well serve this with a side of brown basmati rice, if you wanted to!

Great!  That brings me down to a bunch and a half… does anyone have any good recipe inspirations that would utilize A LOT of broccoli? 😉

INGREDIENTS
(serves 1 as is or 2 with side of rice)

  • 225g broccoli florets
  • 150g extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 20g sliced almonds
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced diagonally
  • 2 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 2 tsp tamari sauce
  • A drizzle of sesame oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Press your tofu to remove excess water. To do this, wrap it in paper towels and put some weight on it, such as a heavy skillet; leave it be while you prepare the rest of your ingredients, about 30 minutes, then cut it into 1″ cubes.
  2. Steam your broccoli over salted boiling water for a minute or two, just to get the cooking process going. Be careful not to overcook it. It still has to be very crunchy and a vibrant green color.
  3. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in large skillet and heat over high heat. When it’s really hot throw in the tofu cubes and turn the heat down to medium-high.  Let it form a nice golden crust before you start flipping it. Cook your tofu from 5-10 minutes, until nice, crispy and golden on all sides.
  4. When tofu is done, add sliced almonds and saute them for a couple of minutes, until they start to brown. Remove tofu and almonds from pan and set aside.
  5. Throw in your vegetables and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add tamari sauce, sesame oil, tofu and almonds.
  6. Give that a good stir and serve as is or with cooked brown basmati rice.

May 20, 2011

General Tao Chicken

I remember seeing this recipe for a healthier General Tao Chicken in my Coup de Pouce magazine back in November and thinking OMG, I sooo have to give that one a try! (ok, ok, I confess… I didn’t actually remember that the recipe had been published in November, I had to go check my magazines!)

Then, I don’t know, life happened and I stored the magazine and forgot about trying that recipe. Looks like I get that problem a lot, which is why I created my must try list. That way, the recipes that I want to try are all kept together in one place. Well, so long as they appear on the Internet somewhere, that is. I still have to think of something for those recipes that are on paper…

When I saw this recipe last week on Taste and Tell and saw that it had been adapted from the very recipe that I’d been wanting to try earlier, it immediately found a spot on my must try list. And this time, I didn’t wait! I gave it a go right away.

Me being me, though, I had to clean it up even more. I have to say that I was extremely sceptical with the results of my little experiment before I plated it. I think the sauce didn’t look shiny enough, and the chicken didn’t look… well, it didn’t look like it had been deep fried enough! Somehow, it looked all wrong and I thought to myself “there’s no way this dish is going to turn out good enough to earn the right to be called General Tao. I’ll have to come up with a new name…”

Well, much to my surprise, it was very good. Nice balance between sweet, sour and spicy, the chicken had a great texture to it. Not quite as crispy as the deep fried stuff, but still very decent. At least, you could taste and feel the chicken, which I really appreciated. The sauce lacked a little bit of “stickiness”, but its wonderful flavour really made up for it. Hey! Even my son liked it. He ate a whole plate!!! I was stunned! Now THAT really means something. If he ate it and said it was good, then it really passed the test.

I say this dish is good enough to be called General Tao (or General Tso, whichever you prefer) and healthy enough to be served at my table, yet it will please even the fussiest of eaters!

By the way… does anyone know why the two names? Tao? Tso? Which is right?

INGREDIENTS
(serves 3)

SAUCE

  • 3 tbsp mirin
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • ½ tsp sambal oelek
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated (I went half and half)

CHICKEN

  • 1 tsp olive oil (to pan fry chicken)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

OTHER

  • 4 green onions chopped, to add to chicken
  • Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
  • 1 green onion, chopped, to garnish
  • 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix corn starch, salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in this mixture and shake off any excess.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in the olive oil until browned on all sides. The key here is to leave your chicken alone until it forms a crust. Be patient. Don’t touch it. Just lift the pieces once in a while to see if a beautiful golden crust has formed. If not, put it back. Once you have a crust, then you can flip your pieces, one by one. Make sure you get that beautiful crust all around. This will take at least 10 minutes.
  3. While your chicken is browning, keep busy by preparing your sauce (just mix all the ingredients together), chopping your green onions and toasting your sesame seeds.
  4. When your chicken is ready, add the green onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit.
  5. Serve with cooked rice and garnish with green onions, and sesame seeds