Thursday, February 20, 2014

Soba noodle stir fry

Stir-fried vegetables with seitan and soba noodles

Stir fries are the ultimate spring garden dish. The melting pot of soups and stews is for the cold windy days of winter but once spring arrives, complete with soft sunsets and gentle humid breezes its time for something lighter and quicker.
Enter stir fried vegetables and ...... and whatever else you want or nothing else at all.
This recipe calls for soba noodles, which hold up well and pick up the flavors of the sauce but thicker rice noodles work well or you can serve it over brown rice.
Stir fries can include anything- whatever vegetables you have are fine - but the backbone of mine are onions, garlic and ginger. With these three staples in place everything else falls into place.
Broccoli and onion ready for the wok

Peppers - Not from the garden but hopefully we'll have some this summer
You don't have to have a wok to do a stir fry but I highly recommend it.
The size is great for making enough for a couple meals and the high sides keep things in the wok and your stove top clean.
I think I bought mine for maybe $15 at Walmart and it has lasted for almost 10 years. Buy one, take care of it and it will take care of you.
One key to doing a proper stir fry is chopping things thinly and evenly. You can use a mandolin if you are cooking a lot at once but a knife works fine.
Also, cook each thing separately. Take out each vegetable when its done. They can all go into one large communal bowl that will eventually be poured back in to get covered in sauce but don't try to cook everything at once.
And under-cook everything. If the vegetables start to lighten in color, pull them out. They will continue to steam in the bowl while you cook other ingredients and will soften even more when added back into the wok to mix with the sauce. You cannot under cook stir fry and overcooking is easy.
Finally, a note on the sauce.
This recipe comes from my dad and is the most simple sauce you will ever make. I used to experiment with all kinds of other concoctions that had a lot more ingredients and were more difficult to make, only to be told that they weren't as good as this one. It's easy, it's delicious and its consistent. Use it.

What do I need?

(This is what I cooked for this recipe but feel free to add in whatever vegetables you have

Bok Choi from the community garden

1 red pepper
6 cloves garlic
1 piece of fresh ginger - 1 inch by 1 inch or
I like a lot of garlic and ginger so I often double it
1 onion
1 package seitan
1 package mushrooms
Lots and lots of greens- 
I used kale and bok choi from the garden but mustard is great too
1 broccoli crown
Cooking oil

Chopped kale from the garden


Mix in a bowl or jar
1 and 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 T oyster sauce
1/2 c dark Karo syrup
3 T corn starch
1/2 of the total garlic and ginger
Hot pepper (optional)
2 packages soba noobles

What do I do?

Make the sauce first and set it aside
Boil water and cook the soba noodles according to the instructions on the package. You can do this while you cook the stir fry or take care of it ahead of time. Drain and set aside when they are done.

Wash vegetables
-Chop into uniform pieces but keep each vegetable separate
-For the garlic and ginger, you can finely chop them together or even throw them all in a food processor.
Put half the garlic and ginger in with the sauce and cook the other half with the seitan 
-Put oil in the wok
-Heat up the wok on as high a temperature as you can get without the oil smoking
I usually cook in this order- onions, seitan/garlic, broccoli, pepper, greens, mushrooms-
-With each one, cook it briefly over high heat and then take it out and put it in a bowl- At this point they can all go in the same bowl
Do not overcook- err on the side of raw
Add oil as needed to the wok but be sure to let it heat up each time after adding
-Once the last of the vegetable have been cooked and set aside, put the sauce in the wok and reduce to medium heat.
-When it just starts to boil add everything for the stir fry back into the wok, including the noodles
-Boil gently for a minute or so, stirring continuously to get an even distribution of the sauce, noodles and vegetables


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