Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Turning Over some New Leaves

Tagliatelle "Soba" con Cavolini di Bruxelles, Zenzero, Peperone, Arachide & Agrumi
Soba Noodles with Brussels Sprouts, Ginger, Peppers, Peanuts and Citrus

Brussels Sprouts, lovely Winter greens- sweet and delicious as they are, it is a shame that they often just get cooked to death, steamed or boiled and turned into mushy, messy (although still yummy!) side dishes.

Alternatively, being suddenly "en vogue" again, they are being roasted and toasted and also prepared very deliciously in that way too...

But still! You can do a little more with them than you think if you open your mind a little... and yes indeed- the rest will follow!

I decided to add plenty of different flavors to the sprouts this evening, giving them an Asian touch, with 5 spice powder, ginger, sesame oil and a little hoisin sauce- but without overpowering them. The toasted, salted peanuts added some crunch, seasoning and texture, the pepper and Spring onion some freshness and sweetness- and the zest and juice of a mandarin orange lifted everything and brought the whole combination together wonderfully... even if I do say so myself!


So, as you can see, I had my little bundle of Japanese Soba (buckwheat) noodles, to which I added 10 Brussels sprouts or so, a handful of salted peanuts, a small red pepper, a couple of tender Spring onions, a mandarin orange and 1" or so of fresh ginger.


Very quick to make, very light to eat and all in all a good thing! We are still rocking and reeling from Christmas, after all! 


Chop up a few slices of mandarin zest and the ginger as finely as possible, cut the pepper and the Spring onions into bite-sized pieces... and wait for it- pluck the leaves of the sprouts apart individually!

Now, that may sound like a lot of work... but it isn't! The way to do it is to cut away the stalk and remove the outer leaves, obviously, but then to pinch the sprouts firmly between the top and bottom and give them a good squeeze- this will help them so come apart. push them up from the stalk-end and they should peel back easily enough... it's just a matter of a little practice! And if I could do it in just over 5 minutes- you can too! Ok- well maybe it will take 10 minutes- haha! It's all in a good cause! 'Cause it's going to be your supper!


Soba noodles cook VERY quickly! I prepared mine by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. I pressed them down into the water as soon as they began to bend, swirled them around a little, then drained off the water and replaced it with cold water. I let them sit for 3-4 minutes and then poured off that water too. This got rid of a lot of starch- you will see how cloudy the water is when you pour it off. I then added a little sesame oil, gently tossed them, then set them to one side whilst I prepared the rest.


Before I started on the vegetables, I quickly toasted the salted peanuts in a dry frying pan to make them even more crunchy and delicious.


Next, I added just a little sesame oil and stir-fried the strips of pepper and the finely chopped ginger.


Once the ginger began to turn golden, I added the sprouts, the onion, the zest and the juice of the mandarin orange. I sprinkled everything lightly with 5 spice powder, a dash of Thai fish sauce and a pinch of sugar and stirred everything together.

Just 2-3 minutes later, the leaves were glossy, tender and were beginning to brown a little... the onion had softened up, the spices and seasoning had done their work and everything was transformed- it really was as easy as that!


I pushed the vegetables aside and briefly re-warmed the noodles in the frying pan with a little more sesame oil and a dash of light soy... carefully does it though, as they are rather delicate! Then on went the hot and delicious vegetables, on top, with a scattering of toasted salted peanuts- and dinner was indeed served!


Very light and very delicious! You might like to add some Sriracha or some other kind of chili sauce to yours- or a drizzle of hoisin as I did... or soy... or just enjoy them as they are! Even as simple as this, the combination of flavors and textures make this into a real treat.


I just love to have fun with my food and to do something unexpected! Life to short to play to the rules!

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