Saturday, 9 February 2013

New Year Noodles!

Tagliatelle Asiatiche Vegetale
Asian Vegetable Noodles

It's Chinese New Year- only your wouldn't know it here in Frankfurt, Germany! There are hardly any Chinese restaurants here anymore either- it all seems to be rather passé these days, with people preferring Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. Which is a shame in a way, but on the other hand, somehow understandable, as these styles of cooking are steeped in tradition and all based on ages-old recipes and methods... whilst people nowadays demand change...

So what was I to do? I was craving that rather dated soy sauce shot to the taste buds and decided to improvise as best I could. At the same time, I wanted to avoid all of the frying, because as you all know by now- greasy food is not for me! But flavorful food is! This is a way to make a tasty bowl of vegetable noodles in no time at all, with a little sesame oil added only at the end for flavoring... absolutely not "authentic"- but absolutely perfect for you and me!

The noodles I used for this dish were narrow Udon noodles, which are cooked in just 4-5 minutes at the most. Which is great- because it is really quick, but also means that I needed to get moving fast with the vegetables!

So, what I did was, I turned up the heat to the max in my non-stick frying pan and added sliced Shitaake mushrooms, sliced celery, shredded carrot and chopped garlic and began stirring straight away. The celery and the mushrooms begin to give off their juices pretty soon and everything begins to "sweat" and to soften up pretty soon- as long as you keep things moving you will be fine- trust me. What I wanted to do, was to coax the juices out of the vegetables by heating them up... but what also happens, is that the natural sugars begin to caramelize too. So to accentuate this, I added a finely sliced yellow mini pepper with the seeds removed, a handful of snow peas and a finely sliced Spring onion. At this point, the noodles were ready, so I drained them and added them to the frying pan and the vegetables whilst they were still steaming hot and moist.

I then seasoned the mix with a little 5-spice powder, soy sauce, lemon grass powder, a tiny pinch of sugar and the juice of half a lime. I tossed the noodles and vegetables together, so that everything became nicely mixed and only then added just a small drizzle of sesame oil. I kept stirring and soon enough, found that everything was nicely coated and indeed cooked through, with plenty of bite, lots of flavor and very little fat! With a sprinkle of chili flakes, my improvised bowl of noodles was ready to go! All I know is that they tasted just fine to me! You could go ahead and stir-fry this dish in the usual manner... but you can also try it my way- because strangely enough it tastes rather good too! My reasoning behind this is that all of these ingredients can be eaten raw anyway and that you don't want to have them soft and soggy anyway. This way all of the ingredients maintain their own distinctive flavors and textures much better- and it is much better for you!

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