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Category Archives: Indonesian

Roasted Onion Tofu Shirataki Noodles (Barbarian Style)

Lately I’ve been sort of grumpy and indecisive about cooking.

Why? you may ask. And well you may.

Well all the different sauces and pastes and whatnot that I’ve been accumulating for all the various and sundry dishes of Asian origin which I like to cook are taking over the kitchen. It’s to the point where I can’t even remember what I have and what I don’t have. The other day I came home with Thai style Black Soy Sauce, which I have been assiduously seeking for months now. Only to discover that I had already found and purchased a bottle of the stuff.


Here’s a small portion of what I have to deal with:

Lotsa Sauce-as!!!

I am assured by those who claim to know that one cannot substitute one type of hot chili bean paste for another as they are totally, totally different and will ruin whatever you are making if you try. So there are 6 or 7 different types of commonly used Korean bean pastes, and a bunch more from Thailand, and some more yet from Indonesia, and then there’s a whole passel over here from China, only they’re different from this region of China than they are in that region of China, and NO YOU ABSOLUTELY MAY NOT SUBSTITUTE ANYTHING FOR ANYTHING ELSE! AAAAAARGH!

But wait – why am I striving so assiduously for authenticity? Am I not

*dramatic pause*


Do not the cuisines of all countries tremble at my shadow? Does not the earth quake with the passing of my mighty hordes of hungry domestic warriors? Do I not bestride the culinary world like a COLOSSUS???

Well maybe not. Still, there is a time for striving towards being true to the cuisine, and a time for being true to your stomach. Today, I return to my barbarian roots, and make something up from scraps and pieces.

So. Today’s offering – sorta Thai-ish, sorta Indonesian, but not really either:

Roasted Onion Tofu Shirataki Noodles (Barbarian Style)

By Kitchen Barbarian

Published 06/27/2012

My own concoction, using whatever I have on hand, which happened tonight to be kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) and some Thai red pepper paste, among other things.

Using Tofu Shirataki noodles makes this a very low calorie, low carb meal, as there are only 40 calories and no carbs in an 8 oz package of the tofu sort, and none in the plain shirataki noodles. If you prefer to substitute bean thread noodles instead, it’s still fairly low cal, and still fairly low carb – bean thread noodles are among the lowest in carbs of any noodle other than shirataki or tofu shirataki noodles.

A noodly delight!


  • 1 T minced galangal
  • 1 T roasted red pepper paste
  • 1 T kecap manis
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 T sake
  • 1 to 2 T lime juice, to taste
  • 5 to 6 oz pressed tofu, pan-seared
  • 8 oz packet of Tofu Shirataki noodles or 4 oz bean thread noodles, soaked
  • 2 medium to large onions, quartered and roasted
  • splash of dark sesame oil


  1. Press a block of tofu, then slice and pan-sear the slices on each side. Use about 2-3 slices, cubed, in this recipe. (I like more tofu, the amount should be to your taste – you could also substitute chicken or pork for the tofu – unless you’re a vegetarian. Then you probably shouldn’t do that.)
  2. While the tofu is being pressed, quarter your onions, peel, remove root ends, and roast in a 300F onion for about an hour; then turn the oven up to 350F and roast an additional 20 mins, until the onions have softened and begun to brown (but not burn)
  3. When the onions are done and the tofu has been seared and cubed, set aside and start on the actual stir fry.
  4. Mix together the kecap manis, soy sauce, sake, and lime juice and keep aside.
  5. Splash a T or 2 of dark sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the minced galangal and the roasted red pepper paste and stir fry over a medium to med-high heat until the galangal begins to brown.
  6. Add the cubed tofu and stir fry for 2 or 3 mins.
  7. Add the prepared tofu shirataki noodles and stir fry for another 2 or 3 minutes, giving the noodles a good chance to soak up the sauce. You may substitute soaked bean thread noodles if you do not have or do not care for tofu shirataki noodles.
  8. Add the roasted onions and stir to mix well.
  9. Garnish with cilantro and Sweet Potato Sprinkles (if you have them) and serve with a wedge of lime.

Unlike most of my recipes, this dish will only serve 1 to 2 people – 1 if it’s your whole dinner, 2 if there’s another dish to go along with it.

I was cooking off the cuff or I’d have marinated that Tofu – if you plan better than I do, marinating the tofu is a GREAT idea! I’m just too forgetful to get it done half the time.

Tofu shirataki noodles are different than any other Asian style noodle I’ve ever used – you will find them packed in water in the refrigeration section of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and some of the larger Asian markets. Because they are packaged wet, 8 oz of noodles isn’t as much as it sounds like – I’m guessing it’s roughly the equivalent of 4 oz of most dry style noodles. So if you substitute for the tofu shirataki noodles with some type of dry noodle, remember to decrease the amount to make up for the difference in weight between wet and dry noodles.

Should you decide to give these a try, keep in mind that they are a unique type of noodle – basically they’re a noodle shaped fiber envelope filled with water. They are so high fiber that they can cause gastro-intestinal distress (to put it politely) if you overdo with them, or if you happen to be sensitive to them. Start out with a small amount. Personally I eat no more than one package (8 oz of the wet noodles) with stir fry, once a day, about 5 times a week. I’m good with that. However, there have been reports of ummmm, let’s say a “sudden return of ingredients” when people have thought they could eat gobs of these because they are (literally, for plain shirataki noodles, and virtually for the sort with tofu in them) no calorie.

Well you can’t. It is an ungood thing to try. So don’t do that. K? We’re barbarians, but never quite the barbarians the Romans were!

Tags: tofu shirataki noodles, stir fry, Thai, Indonesian, low calorie, low carb, kecap manis, vegetarian


Kecap Manis – Indonesian stir fry sauce

As I was just whining the other day, when you have a wide culinary interest in the region of Asia (NO!  It is NOT the same as being indecisive!) sometimes it can be hard to keep all those different sauces and ingredients in stock.

Fortunately, it is often possible to make your own.  Well, at least sometimes.

Even then sometimes I don’t have some sauce or ingredient that’s part of the recipe.  In this case – I was out of both lemongrass and Tamari (actually I don’t keep tamari sauce around, so I pretty much NEVER have it).

Oh well.  I’m a barbarian – I’ll get close enough.


  • 3/4 c palm sugar, jaggery, or brown sugar
  • 3 T water
  • 1 c tamari (I used soy sauce)
  • 1 T minced galangal (from a jar – if using fresh, just slice it thinly)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T minced lemon grass, bulb only.  I use this stuff —> More Info
  • 2 star anise


  1. dissolve the sugar in the water over a medium heat.
  2. add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer
  3. simmer over a med low heat for about 10 mins – until it begins to thicken
  4. remove from heat and store in the fridge in a glass jar.

Kecap manis will keep virtually forever.  But you won’t have to worry about that – this is a great base for a stir fry noodle dish.  Obviously you need to add something spicy as well, but this is a good start.  It won’t be around for long!

Last time I made this I had to use brown sugar – I had just bought some jaggery but when I opened it up, it was MOLDY!  EWWW!  Tossed it!  So sad!


The Gourmet Garden lemongrass is OK, but the only other thing I’ve tried from them is, well, pretty inferior if not downright nasty.  I’m talking to you, Gourmet Gardens cilantro-in-a-tube!  Get thee back to the netherworlds!

Actually the ginger and garlic are probably OK as well, but kind of pricey when it’s so easy to get good garlic and ginger paste at any Asian, and many “regular ‘merican”, grocery.  Given my experience with the cilantro, I don’t think I’d be willing to give the basil a chance.  YMMV.

Learning Moment of the Day

A psychologist, an engineer, and a mathematician are in a bar having a convivial drink.  While the three are well into demonstrating an exponential curve as a function of alcohol intake, the psychologist proposes a psychological demonstration, in which the engineer and the mathematician agree to participate.  Pointing a particularly pulchritudinous member of the opposite sex on the other side of the room out to each of his subjects, the psychologist proposes, “I will ring a bell at 1 minute intervals.  At the sound of the bell, you may each advance 1/2 of the distance towards the object of your desire.  Are you ready to begin?”

The mathematician immediately throws hands in the air and cries, “No way!  It’s a mug’s game!  I’m not wasting my time with this – if I can only advance 1/2 of the distance at each interval, I will NEVER get there!”

The psychologist busily makes some notes and turns to the engineer, who, as it turns out, has already hopped off the bar stool and is clearly ready to go, saying, “That’s alright, I’ll get CLOSE ENOUGH!”

Tofu Pepper Stir Fry – Thai-ish. Or maybe Indonesian-ish

I’m frequently missing ingredients when I go to make a dish – there are so many different Asian sauces and pastes it’s hard to keep track of them all. I would normally make this with Nam Prik Pao, but having none on hand, and not having the energy to make my own (probably I would be lacking some ingredients for that as well) I went with a substitute of sambal oelek and kecap manis, both of which are Indonesian rather than Thai in origin as opposed to the Nam Prik Pao (which is a Thai thing).

Also this has bell peppers in it, which makes Thai purists shudder (NOT A THAI FLAVOR!) Oh well, what can I say, we’re culinary barbarians here.  We have the particularly peculiar and vulgar idea that if it tastes good, we eat it.  So sue me!  LOL!

This one’s easy.


  • extra-firm tofu, one block, pressed
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • one medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp to 1 T sambal olek (Indonesian chili paste), to taste
  • 1 T kecap manis
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in good size chunks (to taste) – I used a yellow and a red
  • 2 T fish sauce (you vegetarians out there, substitute a vegetarian “fish” sauce or Golden Mountain sauce)
  • handful of Thai basil leaves only, rinsed well.  If you can’t find Thai basil, “regular” basil will do – but it won’t taste the same.  Still good, just different.
  • oil for sauteing


  1. Press the tofu and slice into medium thin slices
  2. Dry fry the tofu in a nonstick pan over a low medium heat ’til both sides are golden brown
  3. cut tofu into 1″ or so pieces (larger or smaller is ok, to taste)
  4. heat the oil in a fry pan – add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onion starts to brown
  5. add sambal oelek, kecap manis, and fish sauce.  Saute for a couple of minutes
  6. add the tofu pieces and saute over a low heat for 5 to 10 mins to allow the tofu to pick up the flavor of the sauce
  7. add the bell pepper – saute another 3 mins over med low heat until the peppers just start to cook.  You want them to retain some crispiness so don’t over do it
  8. add the rinsed basil leaves and stir to incorporate.  Saute about a minute, then shut off the heat
  9. serve over rice with lime wedges

Next time, it’s noodles for this guy.  Which will take a bit more in the way of sauce – probably a bit more of the kecap manis, a touch more heat from sambal oelek or one of it’s cousins, some sake … This was good with rice, but I think it would make a really good noodle dish.

NOTE: I first made this using 2 tsp of the sambal oelek. This gave it a nice, mild hint of spiciness – but keep in mind, in our house we tend to eat HOT and think it’s normal. 2 tsp may be plenty hot for your tastes. For us, next time I’ll probably use at least twice as much, or else add some fresh chili. If using nam prik pao, it may take an entirely different amount, depending on the “innate hotness” of the brand you’re using.