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Category Archives: Main Dish

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.

*grump*

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*

THE KITCHEN BARBARIAN?

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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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

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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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  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.

Masala Dhokla

 
I use this when I have leftover curry to use up and I don’t want to serve it again with plain rice – the Masala Dhokla is a quick and easy way to vary the meal.You can use any fairly dry leftover curry, such as chole, channa masala, any potato curry that doesn’t have a lot of gravy, etc.

This is a “quick” dhokla recipe that doesn’t require any fermentation and only takes a few minutes to mix up.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1 cup besan (chickpea) flour
  • 2 T cream of wheat (farina, semolina, rava)
  • 1/2 tsp Fruit Fresh or citric acid or Eno salt
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 green chili, finely minced
  • 1 T light sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • 1.5 c water
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp more of the Fruit Fresh, citric acid, or Eno Salt

 
DIRECTIONS

  1. Stir the dry ingredients together with a fork.
  2. Add ginger, chili, light sesame oil (gingelly), and water.
  3. Mix well with a wire whip or a fork.
  4. Add 1.5 tsp baking powder and another 1/2 tsp of the Fruit Fresh or citric acid crystals, or 2 tsp of Eno salt. Mix well but quickly.
  5. Let the batter sit while you bring water to boil in a steamer or dutch oven with a cake rack in the bottom.
  6. When it reaches the simmering point, turn the heat down to keep it at the simmer (covered).
  7. Pour one-half the batter into a greased 8″ cake pan.
    Set the pan in the top half of a steamer or on the rack in your dutch oven.
  8. Cover the pan.
  9. The water should not touch the cake pan, you will have to watch and add water if it gets too low during the steaming process. This shouldn’t be to much trouble if you keep it at the simmer and keep it covered.
  10. Let it set up for a few mins in the steamer – how long depends on how thick you poured the batter, it could be only a minute or up to 5 if it’s a thicker dhokla.
  11. Spoon small amounts of your curry over the surface of the dhokla – for safety’s sake remove the steamer from the pan so you don’t get a steam burn while doing this.
  12. Then simply replace in the steamer and continue to cook. Voila, easy, quick Masala Dhokla!
  13. The batter should be done in 13 minutes or so (less without the masala). Use a knife to test for doneness (just like a cake).
  14. Remove from the steamer and loosen the edges of the dhokla with a knife. Put a plate over the top of the cakepan and flip the whole thing out to flip it out of the cake pan. You may have to shake it a few times to get it to drop out. Then put another plate over the plate with the dhokla on it (which is now upside down) and flip again, to get it right side up.
  15. Serve with ghee.

 
Simple as that!

 

Allagada Podi – A potato curry

This is a variation of potato curry that includes some spices I don’t typically cook with when making Indian food. It’s a tasty change of pace.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 T oil – peanut or mustard oil, or 1/2 veg oil and 1/2 ghee
  • 3 to 4 med red potatoes, about 1 1/3 lbs
  • 1 large onion, diced or thinly sliced
  • OPTIONAL 2 roma style tomatoes, cubed, or 1 sm can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp poppy seed
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • OPTIONAL 1 T UNSWEETENED coconut flakes
  • 2 to 3 green chili, to taste
  • 1.5 tsp ginger
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp black mustard seed
  • 8-12 curry leaves
  • 1/8 tsp clove powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of turmeric (scant 1/8 tsp)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 T plain, unflavored yoghurt
  • Coriander leaves, chopped, as garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut the potatoes into cubes, slices, or shoestring style strips. Cut the onions and set both aside.
  2. In a coffee or spice grinder (used only for spices), grind the poppy seeds, coriander powder, and sesame seeds. Also the coconut, if you are using it. Set aside in a small bowl.
  3. Measure out the ginger paste and minced garlic and set aside, mixed together, in another small bowl. Add the minced green chili to this bowl as well.
  4. Put the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in another small bowl.
  5. Measure the turmeric out into a small bowl and set aside with the other pre-measured spices.
  6. Heat the oil in a pan. Which oil you choose will have an effect on the flavor of the dish. Note that mustard seed oil is more sensitive to heat than peanut oil or ghee; I prefer peanut oil for this dish myself.
  7. Add the chana dal to the oil as it heats. When the chana starts to fry, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start to crackle, quickly stir in the cardamom, clove, and cinnamon mixture.
  8. When the mustard seeds start to actually pop, add the curry leaves and then quickly add the onion and turmeric and fry for a few minutes until they start to brown, stirring frequently.
  9. Add the ground poppy seed, sesame seed, and coriander powder (and coconut if you are using it) mixture and stir well, IMMEDIATELY add the tomatoes and the potatoes.
  10. Stir quickly, sprinkle on the salt, then stir to coat the potato pieces evenly.
  11. Turn heat down to med, cover, and let the potatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until they just barely begin to soften.
  12. Turn the heat up to med high, uncover, and fry the potatoes. As they brown, turn them gently, sort of like a hash brown. Do not stir as this will break up the potato pieces.
  13. When they have browned sufficient unto your taste, add the plain yogurt if you have it, then sprinkle with the torn or minced coriander.
  14. Serve with rice, naan, chappati or puri.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Pizza Casserole

What do you do, when your son says at the last minute he wants pizza for dinner, and the dough is in the freezer?

Well I don’t know what YOU do, but this is what *I* did!

Go directly to the ingredient list

I had half a can of diced tomatoes in the fridge, as well as half of a not very good recipe for pizza sauce (it was too thick and overspiced).

I had 8 lbs of potatoes languishing in the cupboard, just begging to be used. You can tell when potatoes are begging to be used. They start putting out little sprouts. Those are desperate cries for attention.

I had pepperoni and cheese in the fridge, as well as a green pepper that wasn’t getting any younger.

If only I had some pierogi, I could make that Pizza-style pierogi casserole my son likes.

Hey, wait – what’s in those pierogies? All they are is a flap of dough folded over some very bland mashed potatoes. I suppose I could cook up the potatoes and make pierogi. Or wait – quicker yet – why bother with the dough?

So having had this epiphany, I washed and sliced the better part of the lonely, languishing potatoes. I love my mandoline! In nothing flat I had about 4 lbs of potatoes sliced up and ready to go. These were a very thin skinned variety so I didn’t even need to peel them.

Again with the mandoline, making short work of dicing some onion. Too bad I haven’t figured a way to cut up bell peppers on the mandoline – by the time I’ve got them cut up enough to seed them there’s not enough left to stick on the mandoline. (SAFETY NOTE: Regardless of what superchef you’ve seen on TV slicing things on a mandoline with his/her bare hands, remember, YOU are NOT a superchef! Never ever use a mandoline without the pusher! Not if you love your fingers, and the flesh attached thereon)

So anyway. Cover a cookie sheet with foil, oil it with olive oil, spread the sliced potatoes out, and bake in a preheated 425F to 450F oven for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and layer into a large Pyrex baking dish. Dump your diced onions on top. Add “enough” pasta sauce (I used about 3.5 c). Or cut up about 6 or 8 Romas and pile them on. I was cooking with what was on hand (read: improvising) and that wasn’t one of the things in the fridge begging to be used up before they grew fur coats. I had what amounted to about 3.5 c of tomatoes and sauce when all was said and done, in a 13×9 pyrex baking dish. I wouldn’t use plain canned tomatoes unless you drain the juices off first – that will turn this into a stew rather than a casserole. I had some RIDICULOUSLY thick pizza sauce that in combination with the half can of tomatoes worked out to be about the right consistency overall. When I say ridiculous, I mean you could cut it with a knife. I’ve seen jams that were less thick. Anyway.

I added about 2 tsp fennel seeds, and roughly 1 tsp of dried basil, and oregano, sprinkled evenly over the top. Now is the time to add crushed red pepper if you would like to – I meant to but forgot. Or “Italian seasoning”, if that floats your boat.

Then I spread the green peppers on top, kind of mooshed it all flat, then added pepperoni in a single layer. On top went about 2c of mozzarella cheese.

Turned the oven down to 350F and put the whole thing in the oven. Checked after about 20 minutes – the cheese was just starting to brown. After another 10 minutes (total 30 minutes) I had a nicely browned crust of cheese on top with all that vegetable-y goodness bubbling away below.

SOME ALTERATIONS THAT SEEM LIKELY TO MEET WITH SUCCESS

You could make this with just about any dry-ish vegetable. Something like summer squash (zucchini, etc) would likely be to wet, although you might get around that to an extent by adding pasta or rice. Personally I think that would detract from the overall character of the dish (funny to talk that way about what was literally thrown together at the last minute, but nevertheless true). That’s why I roasted the potato slices instead of boiling potatoes and dicing them or something like that. By slicing and then roasting them, I dried them out quite a bit while retaining their flavor and texture.

Some veggies that would probably do well in this dish include any of the firmer squashes (such as acorn, pumpkin, butternut, etc), Florence fennel, sweet potato, and leek. Some other less familiar possibilities I haven’t tried yet include REAL yams (not to be confused with sweet potatoes which are often called yams), Jerusalem artichoke, Taro, and cassava/manioc/yucca, although I would be careful with that last – if improperly prepared it can be poisonous! If you decide to experiment with some of the more exotic examples of vegetables and tubers, be sure to research carefully how to properly prepare them. I was not aware that cassava contained cyanide ’til I looked it up.

Assuming you’re sticking with some of the more familiar veggies, cut them up, toss with olive oil, and roast them as usual for about 20 minutes in a 425F oven. You may also roast the tomatoes if you are using fresh rather than canned. Stick with a paste variety such as Roma or San Marzano – other varieties will be too wet, in my opinion. You may roast them “plain”, by themselves, or you may sprinkle with herbs such as thyme and rosemary.

Layer the roasted veggies in the bottom of the baking dish, as above.

Seasonings you might add to the casserole with the tomatoes include fennel seed, oregano, basil, and prepared Italian seasonings. I used oregano, fennel seed, and basil when I made this the first time.

Although summer squashes such as zucchini are often roasted, remember that once you layer on the cheese, you are essentially sealing this dish, just as effectively as if you’d put a lid on it. Any softer vegetable under that “lid” will start to stew in its own juices pretty quickly. I’m not saying you can’t do it – roasting will help to dry these out too, and if combined with fresh rather than canned tomatoes you might manage just fine. Just be aware that it might not work as well as some other, dryer vegetables.

SO – an ingredient list would go something like this:

4 to 5 lbs assorted roasted vegetables, cut into roughly bite size chunks.
3 c (to taste) pizza or pasta sauce, if you didn’t include fresh tomatoes above
1 med to large onion, diced (to taste)
1 large or 2 small bell peppers, diced LARGE (about 1″ to 2″)
(you may roast the onions and bell peppers with the other veggies if you wish, in which case I would cut the onions into larger chunks and add them about halfway into the roasting process because we don’t want them to turn into mush)
Pepperoni, Italian sausage, or other sausage – leave out for a fully vegetarian dish
fennel seed
dried basil
dried oregano
crushed red pepper
For the roasted veggies – possibly some thyme and/or rosemary, cracked pepper
2 c mozzarella cheese, to taste

all baked as above in a 13×9 Pyrex baking dish, oiled with olive oil.

SOME OTHER OPTIONAL SAUSAGE TYPES:
Spanish (not Mexican!) chorizo
Cajun (not French, too wimpy!) andouille
linguica, a spicy Portuguese sausage that must be cooked first (it’s not dry cured). If sliced thinly it will probably cook fine along with everything else.

If you leave out the pepperoni or other sausage, definitely add some crushed red pepper (to taste) – this dish will just be too bland without something spicy.