As it happens, I am coming up on the 100th recipe to be posted on the blog here and it feels very appropriate cataloging one that was the culmination of what constitutes many of my meals posted here and one of my favorite aspects of cooking in general.
Much of what I invent comes out of instantaneous inspiration. Sometimes it is a friend suggesting a random pairing of ingredients or a bunch of people bringing over random things but mostly it is wandering around the local places and letting the contents of the produce stand or the fishmonger assist in the decision making by catching my attention with something unique, or especially fresh. The other day I offered to cook for a friend but had absolutely no plan in mind while wandering through the store, then, something struck my eye… an ingredient I hadn’t worked with in a long time, Sōmen, a Japanese style wheat noodle. Traditionally, they are served cold and although I didn’t plan on the initial meal with them being cold, the left overs were served chilled and came out well. It should be noted that although I did serve the meal warm the first night, it could easily be made and chilled and served similar to the left overs. If you don’t have the Sōmen style noodles a thin spaghetti style flour pasta could work as well. The ‘sauce’ that went with this is more of a Thai inspired affair that is made to balance sour, salty and spicy (with the sweet coming from the veggies as they cook). What you are looking for is the breadth of the combination and how all four work together and not a single flavor entity.
The reason why this is entitled faux thai stir fry is because of the ingredients and the style of sauce. I’m no master at Asian cooking so I’d never claim anything is remotely authentic or even a palatable facsimile of fusion ideas without first learning some real methods from someone more versed in it. For the time being, however, I love experimenting with the styles and concepts and this was a fun meal to just come together off the top of my head. I included the Thai names where I could just to keep with the theme.
Lime (manao) (juice and zest)
Cilantro (Pak Chee)
Small hot chili pepper (Phrik chi fa)
Rice Wine Vinegar
Shittake Mushroom (Het Hom)
Bean Sprout (Thua Ngok)
Asparagus (Nor Mai Faruang)
Kale (Phak Ka Na)
Bell Pepper (Pkrik Waan)
Shallot (hom daeng)
Stir Fry Sauce
3:1:1 ratio of soy to lime juice to vinegar
aprox equal ratios of spices, you can used garlic, hot pepper and ginger in other forms if not fresh (ie: ground powers/flakes or minced bottled, etc)
Zest and juice the lime into a holding vessel
Add the soy sauce and lime juice
Use a zester or small holed grater to grate the garlic, hot pepper and ginger into the liquid
Combine the ground coriander, cumin and cliantro and add to the liquid
Mix and allow to rest so the flavors come together, be sure to mix again before use
In a large pot add the lime rinds and some mushroom stems to water and bring to a boil
Clean and dice Shittake Mushroom (caps, do not use stems), Broccoli (into florets), Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Shallot, Yellow Squash and shred the Kale
In a large frying pan (wok preferred, but I didn’t have one) over high heat add the mushrooms and begin to let the cook, then add some oil and the rest of the the veggies in order of cooking time starting with bell pepper, shallot, broccoli, asparagus, garlic, squash and then bean sprouts.
As the vegetables around about 2/3-to-3/4 cooked begin to splash in small amounts of the stir fry sauce
While the vegetables are frying strain the stems and rinds from the water and place the noodles in it.
Allow the noodles to cook for a minute or two (following package instructions) stirring so they don’t stick, do not over cook the noodles
Drain the noodles and submerge in an ice bath if necessary to stop the cooking process then thoroughly drain them again after being cooled
By the time the veggies are nearly completely cooked the stir fry sauce should have mostly been added and begun to thicken up
Add the noodles to the frying pan and toss. Add a bit more of the stir fry sauce as necessary to coat the noodles and maintain the flavor and sauce consistency
Serve warm, or chill and serve cold. You can use some black sesame and cilantro to dress it further as desired