Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Asian

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

You know what’s good? Brussels sprouts. I know, I know — they’re all the rage right now, but I have to say, I’m so glad they’ve been re-discovered and that people are actually doing them right!

Roasting is the way to go, hands-down. You’re not still cutting those little Xs in the bottom of your Brussels sprouts and boiling them are you? Roasting is so much easier, and so much tastier, too.

The hubby and I went out to dinner at Uchiko a little while ago, and, among the many dishes they wowed us with was a side of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts with sweet chili sauce. Since I love Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving and wanted to include them in our feast, I decided to try my hand at a similar recipe. Although ours didn’t come out as crispy (or, truth be told, as greasy*) as Uchiko’s, they were still awesome.

Roasted Brussels Spouts with Sweet Chili Sauce

* Not necessarily saying that’s a bad thing — they were utterly delicious.

I love the combination of soy sauce and sweet chili sauce on these, for a slightly Asian spin that was still perfectly at home with more traditional Thanksgiving foods. We had the rest of the sprouts (recipe testing, round 2) with a dinner of caramelized tofu with ramen noodles a couple nights ago, and it went great with that, too. Definitely a must-try!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Chili Sauce
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs sweet chili sauce**
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Toss the Brussels sprouts in a bowl with the oil and soy sauce to coat them, and then spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, or until partially tender.
  3. Toss the sprouts and then raise the oven temperature to 400. Continue to roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until tender, crisp and browed, tossing every few minutes to ensure even browning.
  4. Remove the Brussels sprouts from the oven and toss in a bowl with the sweet chili sauce. Serve immediately.
Notes
** Available at Asian groceries or the Asian foods section of some grocery stores.

 

Caramelized Tofu with Ramen Noodles and Kale

Tofu has been much maligned recently (and not too recently), but I think it gets a bad wrap. For one thing, if you know how to cook it properly, it’s delicious. For another, as long as you’re not eating it every night (which we certainly don’t), I don’t personally think there’s any reason to get all worked up about phytoestrogens and such. Soy in moderation is a fine thing. In fact, most things in moderation are fine things.

Anyway.

I have a new favorite weeknight meal! And yes, it involves tofu. For a change, though, it’s a super-easy preparation that involves no pressing and can be pulled off with almost no effort — just a trusty timer and a lidded saute pan. What’s more, I think this may be my favorite way to eat tofu yet — it’s crunchy and caramelized on the outside, but retains a softer texture on the inside. Combine that with a tasty Asian-inspired sauce (Olives for Dinner’s Everything Sauce, which I now want to put on pretty much, well, everything), some greens and delicious ramen, and you have a tasty, quick, easy and cheap weeknight meal.

Caramelized Tofu with Ramen Noodles and Kale

What’s not to love?

Caramelized Tofu with Ramen Noodles and Kale
Author: 
Recipe type: Weeknight meals
Cuisine: Asian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (I prefer Tamari)
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 packages ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
  • 1½ tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 4 cups of fresh baby kale (or other green of your choice), any large stems removed
  • sesame seeds
  • handful of raw cashews, roughly chopped
  • Sriracha
Instructions
  1. Drain the tofu (no need to press it) and place it on a cutting board. Cut into 4 thick slices, and then cut in half cross-wise, making a total of 8 slices.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu slices, using tongs and plenty of care, as the pan will sputter, fanning them out in a single lawyer around the pan. Cover and allow to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the noodles and cook them according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. Make the sauce. Combine the toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl, whisk together and set aside.
  5. When the initial tofu cooking time is up, remove the lid from the pan (lift straight up to minimize dripping into the pan and more sputtering) and flip the tofu slices using tongs. They should be well caramelized on one side. Replace the lid and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
  6. Remove the lid (again, lift straight up) and check for the desired degree of caramelization on each side. Continue cooking until well caramelized on both sides, and then remove to a plate and set aside while you continue preparing the meal.
  7. Add the kale to the same pan, still over medium-high heat, and saute until wilted. Be careful, as more sputtering may occur.
  8. While the kale cooks, divide the ramen noodles between 3 or 4 bowls (depending on how hungry you are and how many diners you have). Once the kale its wilted, divide it between the bowls.
  9. Add the sauce mixture to the same pan, still over medium-high heat, and heat until bubbling. Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until thickened. Toss in the tofu pieces and stir and toss until well coated with the sauce. Divide the tofu and sauce between the bowls.
  10. Top each bowl with cashews, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and Sriracha to taste. Enjoy!

 

Cool Noodles for Hot Temps

Are you sensing a theme, here? It’s hot. Not that I’m complaining… yet. But I also welcome any recipe that allows me to put a delicious meal on the table without heating up the kitchen too much. Enter soba noodle salad.

soba noodles

Go check out my latest post on LiveMom for the full scoop, and the recipe. Nora’s take?

head in bowl

Yeah, it’s good. Try it!

Quinoa “Fried Rice”

Sometimes Pinterest can be an amazing thing.* The other day I came across a recipe for quinoa “fried rice,” and I knew I had to give it a try. I love quinoa, and it’s such a great sub for rice in this dish, plus it’s another of those “kitchen sink” recipes I love — you can basically throw whatever veggies you have on hand in it.

* Other times it can make you feel like a failure for not doing 57 crafts a week with your kids and making your own pillowcases, but I digress.

Now, the surprising part about this is that I hated fried rice as a kid. Loathed it. My parents would make it for dinner once every couple of weeks (or at least it felt that often), and I could barely bring myself to take a bite. Now, my taste buds have matured a little bit, sure, but I do think this version is helped along by several factors, including the quinoa-for-rice substitution (it’s lighter and fluffier), fresh veggies instead of frozen,** and frying the eggs omelet-style and then dicing them instead of just throwing them in with the rice to scramble. And Sriracha, because that stuff is just awesome on everything vaguely Asian-ish.

** Oh, those frozen stir-fry veggies, how I loathed them! I think a big part of the issue is that there was always bell pepper in there, and I am just not a fan. Sorry Mom and Dad, you know I love you! I must have been absolutely insufferable on the fried rice issue. I’m sure I’ll get my comeuppance eventually.

I took the recipe for a spin the other night, liberally adapting it to what I had on hand and adding some crispy fried tofu on top for extra protein.

quinoa bowl

Goooood stuff.

This is definitely a meal that has earned a place in our weeknight rotation! It’s certainly a nice change of pace from stir fry.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa "Fried Rice"
Author: 
Cuisine: Asian
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs canola oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups spinach, packed, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4-5 scallions, sliced
  • Crispy fried tofu (optional)
  • Sriracha, for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a small nonstick pan. Scramble the eggs in a small bowl and pour into the pan. Cook without stirring until the top begins to set, about 3-4 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, then dice and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute more, stirring, and then add the broccoli, carrots and spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the other vegetables are just becoming tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce and ginger and stir to coat.
  5. Stir in the quinoa, diced egg and scallions, and stir until warm.
  6. Serve topped with crispy fried tofu, if desired, and Sriracha to taste.

 

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The Peaceful Mom

Shiitake bok choy soup

I’m always on the lookout for a quick, easy meal that doesn’t sacrifice taste. While searching for a new way to use bok choy,* I ran across a recipe that killed two birds with one stone! This shiitake bok choy soup is easy, tasty, and it took 10 minutes to put together, tops, said the hubby, who served as my recipe tester.

* Hey, stir fry is good, but I don’t necessarily want it every week.

Yum.

I had already rehydrated and chopped the mushrooms earlier in the day, and by the time I was ready to head out for an evening run, all that was left to do was chop the bok choy and scallions and put it all together. Fortunately for me, and thanks to my awesome hubby, when I got home, I had a sleeping baby in her crib, and dinner already on the table!

Shiitake Bok Choy Soup
Based on this recipe, originally from Gourmet, February 1999

1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms**
1 bunch bok choy
4 scallions
5 1/2 cups (approximately) vegetable broth
Japanese rice seasoning (optional)
12 oz soba noodles***
soy sauce

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and add the mushrooms. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Allow the mushrooms to cool and then slice them. Cut the bok choy crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Cut the scallions diagonally into thin slices.

Add enough vegetable broth to the mushroom liquid to make 6 cups total. Add rice seasoning to taste (if using) and bring the mixture to a boil in a large pot. Add the bok choy, mushrooms, and noodles. Simmer the soup, uncovered, until the noodles are tender. Season with soy sauce and stir in scallions.

** I used dried shiitakes, since I wasn’t in the mood to pay a lot more for fresh, but you could substitute 1/2 lb fresh and omit the reconstitution.

*** I used Annie Chun’s FreshPak noodles, which are already cooked.

Vanilla jasmine martini

As part of my recent experimentation with Chambord, I tested out a recipe for a vanilla jasmine martini the other night. I have to say, this is the first new cocktail recipe (that I didn’t concoct myself) that I’ve been excited about in a while, and it did not disappoint.

Jasmine!

It was simple, sophisticated, and oh-so-slightly Asian, which made it the perfect compliment to our simple Japanese meal the same night (recipe forthcoming!).

As I began making the cocktail, I realized I was out of simple syrup, so I whipped up a quick batch. Never buy simple syrup, seriously. It’s, well, simple to make yourself. It’s one part sugar to one part water, brought just to a boil so that the sugar dissolves completely and then removed from the heat. I made a bigger batch so I could save some for later.

Simple.

I do a quick canning process that just involves heating the jars with hot water before I pour the syrup in (so the glass is less likely to break), adding a dash of vodka to each jar to help with preservation, and screwing the lid on immediately so that the heat seals it. I know it’s not a “proper” canning method, but I keep the jars in the fridge anyway, so it’s fine.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand — both the hubby and I loved the vanilla jasmine martini! It’s one of those slightly deadly drinks, though, that doesn’t really taste alcoholic… until it hits you with a sledgehammer. So tread carefully.

Vanilla Jasmine Martini
Based on this recipe found on Slashfood

3/4 oz Chambord
1 oz vodka
1/2 oz vanilla vodka
1 1/2 oz brewed jasmine tea
1/2 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass.*

* Or over ice in a rocks glass, if you have a gentleman companion who insists that cocktail glasses are for girls. Not that I have personal experience with such an issue.

Tofu you’ll actually want to eat

I have never loved tofu. It’s bland, and I’m not crazy about the texture. Of course, its blandness is a virtue, in that it takes on pretty much any flavor, and it does serve as a good vegetarian source of protein. As for the texture issue, I have found that firm sprouted tofu is best for my particular tastes. Although (fortunately for me!) Nora loves her tofu simply cubed and coated with wheat germ, I need to do a little more prep work for my grown-up palate.

When I do eat tofu, it’s usually in a stir fry. After trying many different methods, I’ve discovered the best way to cook it so that it comes out crispy, golden brown, and perfect: pan-frying. I’m pretty sure I’ll never try another way of cooking tofu again, so I’m happy to share the recipe in hopes that I can convert some other non-tofu eaters.

I never really use a recipe for stir fry, since I just throw in whatever appropriate veggies I have around, make a quick sauce using soy sauce, vinegar, and maybe a couple of other ingredients, serve it on top of rice and call it a day. My last stir fry was comprised exclusively of vegetables from Full Circle Farm, a fact of which I am pretty proud!

I'm a locavore.

My basic method for stir fry these days is to fry the tofu using the recipe below, take it out to drain on paper towels, and then stir fry my veggies, throwing the tofu and sauce in at the end. This time, I used mizuna, kohlrabi, bok choy, leeks, carrots, and (of course) fried tofu, with a sauce of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, a touch of toasted sesame oil, and a pinch of brown sugar.

Veggie-licious.

It made a lovely, quick dinner. I love stir fry because once the veggies are chopped, it takes only a few minutes to have a meal on the table.

Sure, tofu prepared this way is not exactly health food, but a little extra oil is fine when added to such a healthy dish, in my humble opinion, especially when it improves the taste so much. Try it — you’ll like it!

Fried Tofu

1 14-oz package of firm tofu, drained
2 Tbs canola oil

Cut the tofu crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, then cut each slice in half. Arrange cut pieces on a thick layer of paper towels, and cover with another couple of layers of paper towels. To press the moisture out, place a heavy object on top* and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the tofu and cook on one side without moving until browned, 3-5 minutes. Flip with tongs and cook on the other side. Remove to new paper towels to drain. Add to your favorite stir-fry at the end of cooking, along with the sauce, and enjoy!

* An old law school textbook is ideal, if you have one lying around. My favorite choice is Contracts.

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