Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cashew-almond noodles with stir-fried veggies

The countdown begins, 19 sleeps until I defend my thesis. I have so much I would like to do to prepare but when I sit down to study I find myself overwhelmed, antsy and restless.What is keeping me motivated and reading right now is the fact that I have two public health researchers coming to my defense. These two researchers study the people with the highest rate of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Canada - intravenous drug users. The reality is that the majority of the people who need treatment in Canada are those suffering from more serious problems than HCV infection. 

Although the epidemiology of HCV infection is far removed from what my thesis is focused on, it is the only thing that is capturing my interest at the moment. Also, I figure to actually merit being called 'Dr' when this is over I should know about the real issues surrounding the virus I study. 

In between reading papers on Insite, Vancouver's downtown Eastside and how alcohol abuse exacerbates HCV infection I am also making noodle bowls in the kitchen (I wasn't sure how else to transition those two topics). I have made 3 in the past 10 days, trying to perfect a recipe but falling short on the tofu. I am failing as a vegetarian in the tofu region. In this recipe I fried smoked tofu on its own but it was my first time cooking smoked tofu and it ended up being rubbery, I should have just tossed it in with my veggies. Next time I am just going to skip the tofu and use cubed yam instead.

Everything else about this dish has been perfected in my mind; the sauce, the use of broccoli and cauliflower, adding coconut milk and lemon juice to the veggies while they fry. I prefer to use the healthier Soba noodles over instant noodles in these bowls, but Mike prefers the instant noodles, so I alternate. I have also found that cashew-almond butter is a superior replacement to peanut butter. The flavour is less in-your-face and allows the taste of the rest of the ingredients to emerge. I also make a lemongrass-infused oil of sorts. I like the subtle flavour it gives to the veggies and the sauce.

Cashew-almond noodles with stir-fried veggies
Fall seasonal: Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Onion, Mushrooms 

1 tbsp lemongrass
1 garlic glove minced or pressed
1 tsp ginger minced
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cashew-almond butter (or just almond butter)
1/4 cup light coconut milk + 2 tbsp for veggies 
1/4 cup Kikkoman or other lighter tasting soy sauce + 1 tbsp for veggies 
1 tbsp hoisin
2 tbsp honey, or more if desired (agave or maple syrup for vegans)
2 tsp prepared infused oil (see recipe)
1 tsp lemon juice + 1 tsp for veggies 
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
5 brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup cubed smoked or regular tofu or yam

Soba noodles, instant noodles or rice vermicelli noodles

Chopped green onion 
Chopped cilantro 

1 - Start by preparing lemongrass-infused oil, warm oil to a low heat and stir in lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Leave on heat, stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Strain after about 20 minutes and reserve oil.
2 - Make the sauce by combining cashew-almond butter through to sesame oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
3 - Heat 2 tbsp of the infused oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
4 - Saute all of the vegetables and smoked tofu together in the oil
Note: If you are using regular firm tofu and prefer it crispy, fry it at medium high heat in a separate pan using several tbsp of the lemongrass oil, stirring occasionally.
5 - After about 5 minutes, when the vegetables are heated through, stir in the 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of coconut milk and splash of lemon juice to lightly steam and flavor vegetables.
6 - Continue to cook vegetables, tossing occasionally, until they are cooked through and slightly browned.
7 - Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
8 - Serve noodles, topped with veggies and a few tbsp of cashew-almond sauce, garnish with green onion and cilantro.

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