Random Product Reviews

A few weeks ago, I visited my favorite store, Super H and picked up a couple of interesting products, which I have taken the time to review for your edification. I’ve noticed that a lot of food bloggers seem to receive free products that they in turn review on their blogs. I’ve never received any free products. So I have to resort to buying bizarre items in the grocery store and reviewing them. Life is tough, my friends.

First up is my personal favorite:

Meatless Spaghetti Sauce with Pickled Cucumber! Because WHY NOT?

This was a tiny can and I feared there would not be enough for two so I chose to try this product on an evening when Mark was not dining with me. Because what if it was so awesome I didn’t want to share?!?

First impression upon opening the adorable little can? Well, that it resembled cat food, to be honest.

I didn’t let that deter me, however, because Brachtune really likes cat food and she seems pretty discerning, so I figure maybe she’s on to something.

To prepare this exotic dish, I removed the contents of the tin to a microwaveable bowl and heated it for a few minutes.

I then spooned it over some prepared pasta.

My thoughts? Well, that it was pretty disgusting, actually. It was greasy and weird and oddly sweet, and after considering Brachtune’s culinary opinion a little further I remembered that she considers plastic bags and her own butt to be great delicacies, so I decided that an uncanny resemblance to cat food wasn’t necessarily an indicator of good grub after all. However, I did consider the possibility that Meatless Spaghetti Sauce with Pickled Cucumber is a great idea, just one that does not translate well to canned versions. So I whipped up my own version of the same using chopped homemade seitan, cucumber relish, and chili paste …

… which I also served over pasta.

This, with its significantly lower amounts of oil and sugar – yes, sugar! – was an improvement on the canned stuff, but I still found it in my best interests to defrost a frozen pesto cube and toss it with the remainder of the pasta for the rest of my meal.

Next up, Soy Pudding. Great for dessert!

We don’t usually eat dessert unless we have company, but I was feeling a bit peckish after dinner tonight and, recalling that the Soy Pudding I bought at Super H was about to expire, I figured there was no time like the present to try it out. My original plan was to throw away the syrup it came with because it contained high fructose corn syrup and make my own ginger-flavored topping, but at the last minute I decided that would be cheating. The syrup comes in a little packet taped to the pudding tub, which is pretty classy.

I didn’t expect this one to be too bad, quite frankly. It’s really just soft tofu – how bad can it be? And I like ginger, so despite the fact it’s made with high fructose corn syrup, how bad could that be?

Mark’s a lot more squeamish than I am, however, and I’m going to tell you right now he went into this venture with a bad attitude.

I can’t help but think that if he’d cleared his mind of any prejudices against tofu for dessert this would have gone over better with him.

He valiantly tried a bite in an attempt to be supportive of my efforts to bring you unbiased product reviews.

But I’m afraid he ultimately issued an unfavorable review of Soy Pudding.

As for me, I found it much more palatable than the spaghetti sauce, but also to taste very much like tofu drizzled with ginger-scented high fructose corn syrup. I think I’ll stick to chocolate.

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Renae out of control at Super H

Due to a combination of factors including our trip to Charleston and, oh, a few blizzards, I have not been to Super H or any other Asian grocery store in many weeks, other than the solitary Chinese grocery store my mother-in-law found in North Charleston. I don’t know if Super H got wind of the fact I was considering moving to Charleston or if I had just missed it sorely, but for some reason it seemed to be even more amazingly awesome than usual this evening.

Oh, my love.

(This picture taken a million years ago when there weren’t 20′ snow piles all over the parking lot. Oh, happy, happy days.)

I remember vividly the first time I set foot in Super H. It must have been 5 or 6 years ago and I’d driven down to Fairfax from Arlington, where we lived at the time, just to check out the big brother to the closer-by Han Ah Reum. I walked into the produce department and immediately gaped in amazement. I remember digging my Blackberry out of my purse and immediately IMing Mark: “I WANT TO LIVE IN THIS GROCERY STORE.” Super H is HUGE and their produce selection is simply unbelievable. And CHEAP! Then there’s the entire aisle devoted to rice, and an entire aisle devoted to noodles, an entire aisle devoted to soy sauces and vinegars….it’s just amazing. You do have to watch out for certain areas – there are a lot of tentacles and other scary things that need to be avoided, but that’s really only a problem in the frozen food aisle, otherwise that stuff is confined to the seafood department in the back that I just pretend doesn’t exist.

Not only is Super H jam-packed with awesomeness, but they’re always playing good music. Like The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Erasure. I don’t know how a Korean grocery store chain got a hold of my high school record collection, but I’m not complaining.

Anyway, I went completely nuts tonight. I should have taken a picture of everything I bought, but it didn’t all fit on the kitchen island at one time. I filled four big reusable grocery bags to the point they were nearly busting, and the bill was only $100. If I’d bought that much at Whole Foods, it’d have been $500. Not that Whole Foods has half the stuff I bought. I think the blizzards have mentally scarred me and I decided I’d better pack my pantry with enough stuff to see us through an entire year or something.

No recipes tonight – it’s very late so I’m just having a huge assortment of fresh banchan supplied by Super H, and some sushi rice – but I wanted to share a few items I picked up that are new to me, with the hopes maybe some of you will supply me with ideas on using it.

Tia To:

I thought this looked suspiciously like shiso, which can be hard to find, so I snatched it up. Turns out I was right: it’s Vietnamese shiso, and apparently it has a stronger taste. There’s a pretty large amount of it for $1!

Frozen bean curd:

I got this because it looked a little bit like fish cake, so I was thinking I could use it in something that calls for fish cake. I’ve never had fish cake before, so I’ll have no idea if it tastes like it or not. I’ll probably add seaweed to whatever dish I come up with to make it fishier. Anybody tried a product like this? Since the tia to is supposed to be good with seafood dishes, I’m thinking about combining these items?

Fermented soybean:

I think I’ve identified this as doenjang, so I’m pretty sure it’ll end up in an awesome Korean soup, but I’d love to hear ideas on this.

Meatless Spaghetti Sauce With Pickled Cucumber


This one is so simply bizarre, I couldn’t pass it up. I’m not sure if I will actually eat it, although it is vegan. It’s fried wheat gluten with pickles. Apparently you put it on spaghetti?! I’ll definitely do a post on this, even if it’s not edible.

Soy Pudding

Not entirely sure why I bought this because it’s just soft tofu, which I can easily make myself, with a syrup you mix in to make a dessert. The syrup is just high fructose corn syrup with ginger flavoring, so I imagine I’ll be throwing that away and making my own syrup using fresh ginger and no HFCS. Anyone tried this stuff? Thoughts on replacing the syrup?

Rice Noodles

I just picked these up because one of the very, very few things I can’t find at Super H are really wide rice noodles, like I’d use for drunken noodles. The Thai grocery has them, but it’s far away. Actually, that Chinese grocery in North Charleston had them! Score 1 for N. Charleston (but 1,000,000 for Super H).

Aloe

I love aloe but I’ve just never bought it fresh. It was only $1 for this leaf so I figured, what the heck. Now I’m not sure what to do with it.

Kimchi!

This is NOT a new product for me, of course, but it’s pictured here because this huge container cost $14.99, and the cashier was raving about it and saying how it’s the best kind and that it was “so expensive” but worth it. Which I got a huge laugh out of, because in Charleston, Mark picked a tiny (Vegenaise-sized) jar of kimchi up at Earth Fare without looking at the price and I was shocked to look at the receipt later and find it had cost $14.99. Flabbergasted. It was just cabbage, carrots, ginger, and salt! Outrageous! When he ate it I asked him if it was the most amazing kimchi he’d ever had and he said no, in fact, it was extremely boring. It wasn’t even spicy. So now we’re always joking about the world’s most expensive kimchi. I can’t believe Super H thinks THEIR kimchi is expensive! (By the way, this kind of kimchi didn’t contain any fish sauce, anchovies, or oysters, but you’ve got to look out for that stuff when buying kimchi. Or make your own.)

Speaking of the cashier, who was Korean, she noted all the Korean food I was buying and seemed quite impressed by my selections. I’m now an honorary Korean!

I’m off to eat my banchan…have a great weekend, and if you have any thoughts on these items, let’s hear them!

Update: Here’s a picture of tonight’s meal:

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Spicy Rice Vermicelli Soup

First of all, I’d just like to state for the record that I HATE SNOW. I am definitely moving some place that never sees so much as a flake of the awful stuff. Mark and I had plans to surprise his mother for her birthday on Tuesday by visiting her in Charleston. Due to a snow storm on Saturday, the day we’d planned to leave, we didn’t get to Charleston until Monday morning. On Tuesday, her birthday, she had to work from 8am to 8pm with a couple hours off in the middle, during which we got lunch. Since she’s off on Wednesdays, the family celebrated her birthday with dinner that night, shortly before which I looked at the weather forecast for back home and realized WE’RE SUPPOSED TO GET TWO FEET OF SNOW FRIDAY AND SATURDAY. Which meant we had to leave three days early in order to rescue Brachtune, as the cat sitter wouldn’t be able to get to her during a blizzard. I set a land speed record of getting us from Charleston to Fairfax in 7 hours, because I’m a race car driver. I didn’t let Mark drive because he drives like a granny.

Anyway, the theme of our truncated visit, in my mother-in-law’s eyes, seems to have been “Convince Mark and Renae to move to Charleston”. High on her list of reasons we should move there are: 1) no snow and 2) no traffic. Both of which are excellent, and enticing, reasons, however, they are both countered with my reasons not to move to Charleston, which are: 1) no Asian grocery stores and 2) no Wegmans. So my mother-in-law set out to take me on a tour of Charleston’s Asian grocery stores to prove I could survive there. She did some googling for Asian grocery stores in Charleston and her top search result was my blog post complaining about the lack of Asian grocery stores in Charleston. Not a great start. Despite this setback, she dug up three addresses for Asian grocery stores, not in Charleston (which really has none), but in North Charleston, which is a whole other city about half an hour north, and she packed Mark and me into the car for a road trip.

This is the Asian grocery store at the first address she found:

If that looks a lot more like a deserted office in an industrial park than an Asian grocery store, that’s because that’s what it is.

Fortunately, the second address was more fruitful:

That’s Hang Lung Grocery (that’s what was on the receipt), and I’m pleased to say their selection rated a B-.

Just don’t wander into that Fresh Fresh Fresh Meat department in back. Trust me.

Korean specialties were lacking, though, and the produce department was very disappointing (this is pretty much all of it):

… but they did have many necessary staples. They also had the world’s largest whisk!

(I’m sorry that Mark does not know how to focus a camera; also he was incredibly embarrassed by my forcing him to take my picture in the store.)

I think Mark, whose idea of a fun day is NOT a tour of Asian grocery stores, actually found as much stuff he wanted to buy as I did, his favorite being:

Thai Red Bull. At $8.99 for 10 bottles, it’s quite a bargain compared to the American stuff. Unfortunately, poor Mark was disappointed to find it tastes like syrup and is not carbonated. So I’m actually going to try using it as an extract and carbonating it myself through fermentation. I’ll let you know how that goes.

And in my final Charleston talk, another complaint of mine has long been that the food is terrible. Not only is it full of meat, meat-flavoured vegetables, meat, and more meat, but it’s all deep-fried. Mark ordered a lettuce and tomato sandwich one time and was horrified to find the tomato battered and fried. There have always been a few reliable places we could go, but overall, I have found Charleston to be pretty un-vegan friendly. But this seems to be changing! We went to the Mellow Mushroom and got a great pizza with vegan cheese (the vegan cheese is not on the menu, but you can ask for it). I was so surprised! Then we went to Three Little Birds, which is hidden behind a shopping center, but is worth seeking out, because they ALSO have vegan cheese! (And vegan soy milk and vegan yogurt.) This BBQ Tempeh Melt on spelt bread (I’m pretty sure that’s a Tofutti single) might not look that great, but it was really tasty:

All in all, Charleston’s definitely making headway, but something must be done about the Asian grocery store situation.

Now, did you think you’d ever get to today’s recipe? I got only a couple hours’ sleep last night, got up at 5:30 am (which is typically a bedtime for me), drove across three states, battled pre-blizzard crowds at the grocery store when I got home, unpacked, did laundry, and basically ran around all day like a lunatic, all on a single meal of cold cereal eaten at 6 am (and a few snacks in the car), which, believe me, is extremely unusual for me: I get irritable if I go three hours without food. So when I finally had a moment to stop and make something to eat, I was exhausted and wanted something in a hurry, but it had to be “real” food and not just another snack. So here’s the nearly instantaneous soup I threw together.

Spicy Rice Vermicelli Soup

4 cups vegan broth
2 Tbsp gochuchang (Korean red pepper paste…if you live in Charleston, you’re out of luck with this, I’m afraid)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 small can mock abalone
4 oz firm tofu, diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, julienned
2 cups tender pea shoots (or other green, such as spinach)
small handful dried cloud ear fungus (No, I have no idea why I own or can tolerate this ingredient.)
4 oz (?) thin rice vermicelli (I forgot to weigh this for you before adding it to the soup, although I used too much anyway; use what you think is appropriate for 2 or 3 servings)
1 tsp chili oil

Bring the broth to a boil, then whisk in the gochuchang and rice vinegar. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring the vermicelli well to avoid clumping. Heat for three minutes or until vermicelli is cooked. Note that the vermicelli likes to absorb liquid and will drink it all up if you give it a chance (so don’t overcook).

We seasoned ours with sriracha for additional spiciness.

Now excuse me, I’m going to go pass out.

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National Noodle Day Chili Noodles

My early thoughts on dinner tonight were German. My father sent me an email wishing me a happy German-American Day. (He considers himself German-American despite the fact most of my ancestors have been in America for centuries.) But although I’d usually be very happy to go searching Seitan is My Motor for something vegan and German, or eat some sauerkraut, I had a pretty hearty lunch and wanted something fairly light for dinner. Then I read in Jes’s blog that it’s National Noodle Day and I decided we were having noodles instead. Now, I know I could have made German noodles – Bryanna even did a post on vegan spaetlze earlier this year – but I got it in my head that I wanted some sort of spicy chili noodle.

I didn’t take pictures of the whole process: I was in too big a hurry. I was starving, and the boys were apparently starving (Mark’s friend Jathan is staying with us) as well. The good news is this is a one-pot dish and ready in about 15 minutes.

I wasn’t fooling around when I decided to make “chili” noodles: chilis are present in three different forms. It wasn’t overwhelmingly hot despite that, though you can adjust the amount of each type of chlii to suit your tastes.

Chili Noodles

3 bundles udon noodles, or 1 lb. wide Chinese noodles, linguine, or other toothsome noodle
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated or minced
6 scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 2″ slivers
6 oz. snow peas
1/2 cup tofu, cubed (optional)
6 oz. bean sprouts
1 1/2 cups vegan broth
2 Tbsp black bean garlic sauce (from Asian grocery store)
2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp corn starch + 1/2 cup cold water
1 tsp chili sesame oil

Cook the noodles to al dente, drain, rinse under cold water, and toss with sesame oil to prevent sticking. Prep the veggies: chop the bell pepper, scallions, and tofu, slice the chili pepper, grate the ginger, and have the bean sprouts and snow peas ready. Whisk together the broth, black bean garlic sauce, chili garlic sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl or measuring cup. In another small bowl, whisk together the corn starch and cold water. In the same pot in which you cooked the noodles, heat some peanut oil over medium high heat, then add the ginger and white parts of the scallions. Stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the bell and chili peppers and fry for a minute or two. Pour in the broth mixture and bring to a boil. Toss in the snow peas, bean sprouts, and tofu, stirring to let them warm up. Add the corn starch mixture. The broth should immediately thicken. When it has thickened, add the noodles and chili oil and stir until well combined and noodles are warmed through. Top with the green parts of the scallions.

Honestly I don’t think the photo does it justice; I thought they were pretty good:

I’ll keep this in my repertoire of super-fast meals.

Brachtune quite rudely jumped up on the table while we were eating. Fortunately Jathan is a cat person, although even cat people don’t want cat tails in their noodles.

Brachtune loves books.

Oh, she doesn’t belong on the table, but it’s so hard to say no to her.

I also couldn’t say no to her when she wanted to go on an hour-long walk on her leash Saturday afternoon, and now I’m covered in bug bites. What sort of stupid bug is out biting in October? Isn’t relief from bugs supposed to be one of the great things about fall?

As for German-American Day, I celebrated it by listening to Einst├╝rzende Neubauten all day. Which didn’t make it too different than any other day, but was pretty awesome anyway.

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Guest Post! Kylie’s Chicken with Thai Basil and Chilli (with vegan options)

Note from Renae: All the way from New South Wales, Australia, Smucky’s sister has written a guest post! This is a vegan blog and her recipe contains chicken, but as she points out, it is very easy to substitute vegan “chicken” strips. I made this recipe for dinner tonight and at the end of the post, I’ve posted my photos. It was delicious!

I should point out for the vegans that Quorn, which Kylie suggests, contains egg whites (though it is readily available here in the US). However, I totally back her suggestion that you go to England because it is great there! (And very vegan-friendly.) LightLife Chick’n Smart Strips are vegan and available in most grocery stores in my area, and Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Strips are also vegan (and are what I used). You could also make your own chicken-style seitan, or even just use tofu. So don’t be alarmed that Kylie used chicken. This is exactly the type of recipe I’d see somewhere and be excited about; I don’t even read “chicken”, I just read “chicken substitute”. And Kylie’s just the type of person I’m glad this blog attracts: people who may not necessarily be vegan themselves but who are open to eating vegan meals. So with no further ado, here’s Kylie:

Hello! My name is Kylie. I know it seems like we don’t know each other, but in fact we do. Well, sort of. You know my brother – sometimes called Mark, sometimes called Smucky, but more often than not, called ****head.


(I am the one in the glasses).

Chicken with thai basil and chilli

Technically this is not a vegetarian meal, let alone a vegan meal. I mean, it has meat in it. And also some meat products. But don’t be put off by that. I would recommend quorn strips in place of the chicken, but if you’d have to go to England to get it (like I would), it’s probably asking a bit much. Unless you are very ambitious, in which case, go for it! It’s great there! You’ll love it!

You will need:

2 tb peanut oil
600g chicken breast fillet, stir-fry-strip-style * Renae’s note: this would be about 2 or 3 packages of most brands of vegan “chicken” strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1cm/5g fresh ginger, minced/grated
4 small red chillies, thinly sliced
4 or 5 lime leaves, ‘shredded’ (I just cut it with scissors)
1 medium brown onion, sliced thinly
About 4 mushrooms, quartered
1 carrot, sliced thinly

This is the sauce according to the original recipe. I do 1.5 times the sauce though:
1/4 cup (60ml – so I would do 90ml) oyster sauce (or vegan oyster sauce, which almost definitely exists, but I haven’t checked) * Renae’s note: it does exist and should be available in just about any Asian grocery store
1 tb soy sauce
1 tb fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce) * Renae’s note: or just double the soy sauce
1/3 cup (80ml) chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

About a cup thai basil
A cup bean sprouts (optional: I don’t usually get it because you can only buy huge amounts of bean sprouts here, and I kept ending up throwing 3/4 out. So I just don’t get it anymore).

The first thing you want to do is chop the shit out of everything.
In one bowl, put: the minced garlic, grated ginger, sliced chillies, shredded lime leaves and sliced onion.

In another bowl: the quartered mushrooms and thinly sliced carrot.

In a third bowl: the sauces (oyster, soy, fish, stock). The sauce issue is contentious. On the one hand, some people like it to coat the food, and no more. I think it would taste more caramel-ly if you took this approach and used the recommended quantities. I, however, do not like to eat boiled rice by itself, so I make enough sauce that it will also flavour all the rice, and if there is too much, you can always boil it off at the end. So I up the quantities by half.

You’ve pretty much done all the work now! Well done! Time to chillax a bit! Have yourself a beer. But not this one..

..unless you are not a vegetarian.

Right! Back to work!

Ok, I have actually omitted a step here. If you eat chicken, at this point you heat half the peanut oil in a pan and cook the chicken in batches until cooked through. Set it aside. If you are using some chicken substitute, I imagine you don’t need to ‘cook’ the chicken as such, just heat it, so you can leave that til later.

Moving along. Heat the remaining peanut oil in the pan (about a medium heat) . Throw in the garlic, ginger, chilli, lime leaves and onion. Cook until onion is soft and mixture is ‘fragrant’.

Ooh that looks nice, doesn’t it. You can’t beat frying onion.

At this point, add the mushrooms and carrots, and stir fry til carrot is as soft as you like it. Actually, til it is almost as soft as you like it. It is good if it still has a little crunch to it.

Throw the chicken back in with the sauces. If I was using a substitute, I would probably put it in first, stir it through til it was warm, then put in the sauces. Turn the heat up a bit and cook til the sauce thickens to the consistency you like. Now for me, I have a fair bit of sauce at this point, and it generally takes the same amount of time to cook (actually, to boil) the sauce off, as it takes to cook the rice. If you have less sauce, you should start the rice before now. Sorry.

Also, I don’t really think there’s a perfect consistency. You just want to cook it enough that it tastes NOTHING LIKE FISH SAUCE.

While that’s cooking off, cook some rice perfectly:

When the sauce is at the consistency you like, take it off the heat and stir through the thai basil, and bean sprouts if you’re using them.

And that’s it! Very easy, but restaurant-quality. It looks nice to serve it like this:

..but this is how I have it:

In other news, I made Renae’s lentil loaf today. It smelled awesome, and this is how it looked before it went in the oven. Mmmmm. It smells better than it looks.

It’s me, Renae, again. Here’s the line-up of the ingredients I used:

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I hate mushrooms, so I left those out. I did use the bean sprouts, though, but forgot to remove them from the refrigerator to have their picture taken.

I won’t give you a commentary of the steps because Kylie already did, but here are some intermediary pics:

There is definitely no need to go running around looking for vegan fish sauce for this dish. I had some on hand so I used it, but it can be hard to find (vegan oyster sauce, however, is not). You hardly use any and as Kylie says, you don’t want the dish to taste like fish sauce anyway. Just use extra soy sauce.

I’d never bought vegan oyster sauce before today, mostly because many times it’s mushroom flavoured. I was going to be brave and get it anyway today but managed to find a non-mushroomy vegan oyster sauce! If you can’t find vegan oyster sauce for some reason, try a smaller amount of dark soy sauce: it was sort of thick and slightly sweet like dark soy sauce (it’s not as sweet though, so dilute it with extra stock). Or try vegetarian “stir-fry sauce”, which is usually about the same consistency.

Kylie suggests using my idea of a bit of aniseed and European basil if you can’t find Thai basil, or just the basil if it’s strong-flavoured. I can almost always find Thai basil in my Asian grocery stores.

Here it is plated …

… and mixed up:

The beer Kylie was drinking, Tooheys, is vegan, so if you can get your hands on it, drink up! No stags were harmed in the making of their beer, nor was isinglass used to refine it. In fact, I believe I drank a few Tooheys at Kylie’s house when I was there earlier this year! I’m not sure it’s available outside Australia, so here’s what I had tonight instead:

Verdict? Well, Mark’s been requesting French onion soup for the last day and a half, but he got this instead. I was slightly worried he’d deduct points from it for not being French onion soup, but when I asked him what he thought he responded, “It was chicken-tastic! I really enjoyed it: it was very tasty; full of flavour and magic!” I agree on all counts: it was extremely flavourful and tasted like a restaurant dish. It was also quick and easy: I think this is another case where the vegan dish is probably easier than the non-vegan dish because the “chicken” doesn’t need to be cooked; just heated through. I’ll definitely be making this again, most likely on a weeknight when I don’t want to spend much time on dinner but want a big return on taste. Thanks, Kylie!

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Hot and Sour Shirataki Noodles

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while: I haven’t cooked much. Mark was in LA for nearly a week and Fortinbras came down to hang out with me, but we went out for Indian food and then I lived off those leftovers for a while. I’ve also been swimming every night after work and by the time I’m done, I’m so hungry I just eat whatever’s available. Last night, however, in order to atone for serving the very health-conscious Mark onion rings the night before, I made shirataki noodles, famed for having few (tofu shirataki) to no (traditional shirataki) calories. Whole Foods and Wegmans sell tofu shirataki noodles; you can also get “real” shirataki in Asian grocery stores. One package is generally considered one serving, but honestly they aren’t very filling so I used three packages for two servings.

Hot and Sour Shirataki Noodles

3 leaves cabbage, julienned
1/2 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, chopped
1 small head broccoli, chopped into small florets
1/4 carrot, grated
1/2 cup snow peas
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 zucchini, cut into ribbons on spiral cutter
3 packages shirataki noodles
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp cold water

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp hot sesame oil
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce
1″ piece ginger, minced or grated

Prepare all the veggies. I totally didn’t intend for them to all be orange and green. I generally like more colourful meals.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Open the shirataki packages and pour contents into a colander to drain, then rinse with water. The package I had said this helps eliminate the “natural aroma”, and they did in fact smell a little funky.

Place the shirataki in a bowl and microwave for one minute; again this supposedly helps with the smell (which, by the way, isn’t that noticeable unless you put your nose pretty close to the noodles). I also nuked the broccoli for about 45 seconds to pre-cook it.

Heat a wok over medium high heat and then add a bit of peanut or other oil. When hot, add the cabbage.

Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the bell pepper …

… then 30 seconds later, the broccoli and 30 seconds after that the snow peas, stir-frying continuously.

Next add the carrots …

… then the tomatoes.

Add the noodles and zucchini ribbons and stir well.

Pour in the sauce then push the noodles aside.

Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl.

Pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and stir well to thicken.

Add the scallions and stir everything well, allowing the sauce to thicken and coat the noodles.

Serve immediately.

The verdict on this was I didn’t allow the sauce to thicken up enough and it never coated the noodles very well, resulting in rather bland noodles, which is too bad because the sauce was quite flavourful. Also, Mark was hungry about 15 minutes after eating and had to have a cookie for dessert to help fill up. Therefore I’m not sure if calorie-free noodles are really any better than regular noodles: if they don’t fill you up and you end up snacking on other stuff, what’s the point? However, it’s a quick and easy meal and Mark’s always excited when I use shirataki because he thinks it’s very healthy. They filled me up well enough, or maybe the wine helped with that. Next time I’m going to try harder to get flavour into them, though.

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