Sunday, May 13, 2012

Vegetable Udon

This is healthy, quick, and easy to make. It’s kind of like a homemade, healthier version
of chow mein. This is something Mahesh and I used to make a lot, but not so much lately. Today we made it again and decided we should put it back in the rotation!

Vegetable Udon


2 heaping platefuls vegetables, thinly sliced. This is what we might typically include, I have marked the "must haves" everything else is up to you:
-- 1 large onion, chopped in half then thinly sliced (this is a must have)
-- 2 ribs celery, sliced thin on the bias (this is a must have)
-- 1 zucchini, chopped in half lengthwise, then sliced thin on the bias
-- 2 medium carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the bias (or
-- 1 green or red pepper, thinly sliced
-- 1/2 to 1 lb. Mushrooms, thinly sliced
-- 1/4 large or 1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced into strips
-- 1 head brocolli, it’s hard to thinly slice brocolli, but I cut the florets off and
leave those be and then thinly slice the stem
-- 2 cloves garlic, minced (this is a must have)
-- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced (this is a must have)

Flavorings, this can include but not limited to:
-- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste (a must)
-- 1-2 t. Spicy sauce or dried spicy pepper (or thinly slice a jalapeno and add it to the vegetables)
-- 1 Tablespoon Chinese Black Bean Garlic Sauce, or more to taste (this stuff is really really good in this this recipe)
-- Whatever other spices/sauces you like and have hanging around.

-- 2 Tbs olive oil
-- 1 block medium-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
-- 2 packages Udon noodles. The ones I use are called Nama Udon, or fresh Udon, they are like thick, already cooked spaghetti and come vaccum packed in 7 oz. packets and look sort of like this:

Here are the steps to creating a delicious meal for yourself:

1. Fry up the vegetables and garlic in the olive oil, starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook like carrots or green pepper and ending with the ones that only really need to be heated up like mushrooms or zucchini. They don't have to be fully cooked at this stage, because they will steam for another 5 minutes or so. The order I do mine is: onion, green pepper, garlic, ginger, carrots, brocolli, cabbage, and then I just throw the mushrooms and zucchinni in at the very end.

2. Add in your flavorings and mix it into the veggies good. You will see that the salt in the soy sauce will bring the liquid out of the veggies, especially the mushrooms and zucchinni, you want that to start to happen. 

3. Unwrap and add in the Udon noodles in a chunk straight from the package. Push it underneath all the vegetables so it sits in the liquid on the bottom of the pan. The noodles will be in one chunk, don’t try and break it up yet. If the pan looks too dry add a little water in there too.

4. If you are using tofu, you can pre-fry it in another pan if you want (although we rarely do for this recipe) add it to the veggie mixture at this point.

5. Cover the pan and let everything steam. This is where the real magic happens and the Udon noodles absorb the soy sauce/vegetable juices/flavorings. After 2 minutes open up and check on the Udon noodles, are they turning brownish because they have absorbed the liquid and starting to loosen up? Is there enough liquid in there? Stir a little to mix all the vegetables and Udon up, then cover and steam some more (I usually flip the block of Udon over at this point so the other side is in the liquid). You will know the Udon noodles are done when they mix up with everything easily and feel soft and warm all the way through, maybe 4-5 minutes of steaming total. When the noodles are done the vegetables should be fully cooked through as well.

6. Serve and eat!

This recipe makes plenty for a main meal for 2 hungry people. Enjoy!

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