Monday, May 10, 2010

Spicy (or not) soba noodles with shrimp & veggies

One thing I love about Asian cooking is that it brings out the best in veggies. I never eat broccoli with as much enthusiasm as I do when it's doused in black bean or kung pao sauce. I gobble up green and red peppers, snap peas, and bamboo shoots when they're coated in Thai curry. And I have never met a spinach dish I love more than an Indian saag.

I'm sure there are veggie purists who would turn up their noses at this proclamation - arguing that the sauces mask the true vegetable flavors and destroy the natural deliciousness of the vegetables themselves. But as someone who is still working up to loving veggies for veggies' sake, I am doing what I can to make them super-tasty so that I'll actually eat them instead of pushing them around my plate like a 5-year-old.

Last night I impressed myself with my take on Asian soba noodles. We've had Asian noodle dishes often (usually courtesy of P.F. Chang's or Pei Wei Asian Diner), but this was my first attempt at making them at home. And I can't believe it's taken me this long!

The dish I made was really simple, using almost exclusively pantry ingredients with the exception of some shrimp, green onion, veggies and, perhaps, ginger. Here's what I did:

1) Boil some soba noodles until soft, but al dente. Drain.

2) Chop up some green onion (I used mostly the green part), and some veggies of choice. Some thinly sliced or julienned carrots work best in my opinion, but you could also do broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, or whatever you prefer best in Asian dishes.

3) Create a sauce out of soy sauce, rice vinegar, freshly grated ginger, sesame oil, and hot chili oil. The hot chili oil was something I just picked up for fun at the grocery store the other day. Like all the other ingredients in the sauce (except the ginger), it can be found in the Asian food aisle of almost any grocery store. If you don't like spiciness, or you want to make a kid-friendly version, just leave out the chili oil.

To create the sauce, I started with a few splashes of each ingredient I mentioned, with some extra splashes of soy sauce. From that point, I just tasted it and fiddled with it until it had the right balance of spice/saltiness/acidity.

4) Cook shrimp (or other protein if you prefer), and veggies in frying pan with a little canola oil. Add sauce and let it absorb into the shrimp and veggies. Then add the cooked noodles and stir everything together until it's hot and evenly coated with sauce. Enjoy!

Now that I know how simple this is, I will be making versions of this dish at home much more often. It's just so much better than take-out in that I can control the amount of oil/sodium, make sure I'm using quality meats/seafood, and also add a lot more vegetables than a typical restaurant portion would include.


  1. Sounds very yummy Lyss! I am starving & haven't eaten any breakfast yet, so my tummy is literally growling as I read your post!

  2. That sounds pretty good. I might have to try it!

  3. Mike & I never eat Asian food (except when we visit you) and I wonder why because everything you write about sounds delicious. As soon as I don't have to do everything left handed, I will be trying your recipes. (Is that an excuse????)