Occasionally the urge for green vegetables hits, usually when you are tired, overworked, stressed or anxious. How wonderful a large plate of greens looks, smells and tastes at those times. Don’t worry, we have your back, try this kale dish. It combines the great Asian flavours of garlic, ginger, spring onions (scallions) and a little soy. Quick to make, it is just a few minutes from stove to table.
Green Beans – so fresh, crisp and inviting when fresh. This recipe comes from an old Chinese cooking book – it is probably 40 years old, but the recipes are incredibly good. It is an easy dish to whip up and is fragrant with the garlic and spring onions.
The green beans are first simmered in a vegetable stock, then briskly stir fried with the garlic and spring onions in some butter and oil. Then they are drizzled with Rice Vinegar and Sweet Soy. I like a bit of sesame oil at the end too.
Green Bean recipes include Freekeh with Green Beans, Walnuts and Tahini.
Oh deep fried tofu! Sssshh, don’t tell tofu-haters how good deep fried tofu is! I think we should keep it to ourselves. Deep frying changes the soft mushy texture of tofu to a crispy outer skin with a pillow soft inner. If you are drooling already, have a look at this deep fried tofu with a peanut sauce. Sensational.
This recipe takes some deep fried tofu and cooks it with sweet potatoes in a coconut green curry broth, and then serves it with noodles and coriander leaves. It is typically S. E. Asian, like the curries of Thailand and Malaysia. I also make it as one of my Miso Soup options, adding a little more broth to the ingredients. Miso Soup with Sweet Potato, Tofu and Noodles.
If you are not familiar with using miso, read about the different types.
Soy dressings are not something that I grew up with, my family being unadventurous food-wise, and county folk to boot. Integrating different ingredients into the daily routine was something that happened rarely, although I do remember my Mother being obsessed with Peppermint Essence. All our desserts tasted like toothpaste for months.
But soy dressings DO feature in our household, having inherited a foodie adventurous gene from somewhere in my line of ancestors. This salad, definitely Chinese, dresses finely chopped cucumber in soy, sesame, and rice vinegar. Use a white vinegar if you don’t have rice vinegar.
Shimeji Mushrooms are those lovely tiny caps on a long skinny stalk that grow together on a base and are typically Japanese (although they also grow elsewhere). Sometimes they are just labelled as exotic mushrooms, but don’t let your green grocer get away with that. Enquire as to the exact type, you have a right to know.
The other day we made a dish of udon noodles and shimeji with a miso mushroom broth. The remaining mushrooms are made into this lovely quick pickle which will last a week in the fridge. Eat it as a pickle accompaniment to meals, as part of a mezze plate, in salads or piled on top of hot soups. I hope you love these little mushies* as much as I do.
Shimeji is often used as a collective term for about 20 or so different varieties of mushrooms. Although there are specific shimeji mushrooms, labelling or produce is not as specific, and you will find that the collective term includes smaller mushrooms of different varieties. Never mind, though, they are all delicious.
*mushies is Australian slang for Mushrooms
Shimeji mushrooms are a popular mushroom in Japan with wonderful umami flavour. They grow at the bottom of Japanese oaks and red pines. When raw they have a somewhat bitter taste, but the bitterness disappears completely upon cooking. The cooked mushrooms have a pleasant, firm, slightly crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavour. They love soups, stews and noodle dishes, and can be sauteed and slow roasted.
Quick pickles are very fashionable now, and why not! They are both tasty and healthy. This is a Chinese recipe that produces a lovely, sweet-sour quick pickle of cucumber. Leave it to soak and pickle in the vinegar mix while you make the rest of the meal, and it will be ready to serve when you are calling the family to the table.
Steamed tofu is the antithesis of the punchy, in-your-face flavours of my usual Indian cuisine. Almost bland, it is gloriously so, adding creamy texture to its accompaniments. In this case we use bok choi (pak choi) and a soy sauce-seasame-mirin dressing. You do have to be willing to enjoy the subtlety of flavours to appreciate this dish. It is not something that would do well on Master Chef, for example, however we love steamed tofu.
We also have a variation to this dish where shiitake and oyster mushrooms are quickly sauteed and added to the tofu. This is inspired by an incredible dish of steamed tofu and mushrooms at the Whole Earth restaurant in Chiang Mai – Three Flavour Tofu Topped with Shiitake Mushrooms.
I call this sauce a drizzle sauce, because it can be drizzled into and over anything. When I first started making this as a dressing and a dipping sauce, it was quite unusual. That was way back in 2003. These days, Asian style dressings, broths and dipping sauces are reasonably common. This is a great recipe to play with – it makes about half a cup. Store it in the fridge and use for salads, noodles, dipping sauce, drizzle in or on soups, add a little to your bowl of miso, drip over a pile of deep fried tofu, a little over avocado on toast.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can see more of the Retro Recipes series, our vegetarian recipes from that first blog.
We don’t often make bowls of noodles, but really, I don’t know why. This broth (or dipping sauce) is delicious. Topped with fresh greens, mushrooms, spring onions, the noodles are far too good to ignore. Although we used Japanese noodles for today’s dish, we used Chinese Spinach as our greens, along with cute little pieces of yuba (dried beancurd) tied in knots. I know that you will enjoy this dish.
Use this broth or dipping sauce for any noodle dish or tofu dish, or for anything else that you would like to use a broth or dipping sauce with. Kept fairly thick, it makes a great dressing too, for Asian style salads.
Japanese Noodles are served cold in summer and hot otherwise, in a broth or with a dipping sauce. The broth or dipping sauce can be made up to a week before use. We make our own vegetarian dashi (stock) for the sauce with handful of dried mushrooms, some dried seaweed and light miso paste.
This recipe is from our Retro Recipes series, vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006. It is a recipe we still use often, when we feel in a noodle mood.