Cold Soba Noodle Salad

I have no idea if I got this recipe from somewhere. Maybe I made it up! I don’t recall, but it’s similar to many other Asian noodle salads. But I’ve made it for years. It’s light but satisfying. Especially on a hot summer day (though it’s September and I really over this hot weather now). Very simple to make and tastes better the longer it sits, so make a big batch for leftovers.

Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, a grain that looks like a seed. It’s also gluten free so soba is great alternative to for those with a gluten allergy. Buckwheat is high in fiber and manganese, and is overall a very nutritious food. Soba noodles can be served cold like in this recipe, or hot like in a soup. I’ve tried them both ways, but I prefer cold.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 bag (12.8 oz) of Soba noodles
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
Other options:
1 large carrot, shredded
1 cup steam shelled edamame
1 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 tbs toasted nori

Cook the soba noodles according the directions on the package. When done, drain well and rinse with cold water immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mixed together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes to make the dressing. Set aside.

Chop your veggies and add to a large bowl.

Add the soba noodles to the veggie bowl.

Add the dressing and mix together well.

Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Top with some toasted nori and enjoy!

My favorite way to make this is adding all the optional ingredients, but that will have to wait until Jack’s older. I left my basic because I was sharing with my little son. We have started to introduce solids through baby-led weaning. I didn’t think he was quite ready for tofu or edamame yet.

Baby approved!

Beefless Gyoza

When I was grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I had forgot my list so I was just browsing aisles trying to remember what I needed. I saw gyoza wrappers, and even though they were so not on my list, I wanted them. Fried little dumplings dipped in salty soy sauce, yum!

Gyoza are Japanese pot stickers. What sets them apart from the Chinese version is they tend to be more garlicky and satly. Since those are pretty much two food groups in my diet, so I like them better.

I had also bought  Gardein Beefless Tips and thought they would be a lovely filling for half the batch, the other half were filled with frozen veggies.  I highly suggest all of Gardein’s products. My omnivore boyfriend even likes their stuff.

This recipes makes 16 dumplings, a nice entree for one or a side to share for two or three.

Vegetable and Beefless Gyoza
16 gyoza wrappers
Gardein Beefless Tips, thawed
1/2 cup frozen veggies (the standard carrots, peas and green beans works fine)
1 clove garlic, minced
soy sauce for dipping

In a small bowl, microwave the frozen veggies. Afterwards, add half the minced garlic and mix together.

In another bowl, add the thawed beefless tips and mix in the garlic.

Get a small bowl of water, which will be used to seal the dumplings.

Time to assemble…

Generously oil a skillet.

Take one gyoza wrapper and place it on a clean flat surface.

Either place one tablespoon of the veggie filling or one beefless tip in the middle. You might need to reshape the tip to fit properly, which is why I suggest you thaw them first so they are more pliable.

Then dip you finger in the water and make wet the edges of the wrapper throughly.

Now, there is a specific way to fold the gyoza, but if you are unfamiliar with the method, just close it up any way you can. Fold it half and seal or crimp the edges to make a half circle.

Now place it seal side up in the in oiled pan.

Repeat till all the gyoza are filled.

Now place the skillet on the stove and turn it to medium-high heat. Cook until the gyoza are golden brown on the bottom. Do not stir or move them.

Next pour in about 1/4 a cup of water and cover with a lid for the dumplings to steam all the wary through. They should be ready when all the water as evaporated.

To remove them, take the lid off and place a plate over the skillet. Flip it over and gently tap the bottom till they all pop out. 
Get yourself a little bowl of soy sauce to dip and enjoy! 

Udon Noodle Attempt

Awhile ago a posted a blog for sushi with a video link to a YouTube channel called Cooking With Dog. It’s weird that she cooks with a cute little dog, but she makes some interesting Japanese dishes. Most aren’t vegan and some are kinda complicated. But I was surprised to see that udon noodles were vegan and fairly simple.

I didn’t use the special kind of flour the video calls for and I only had a tiny big of starch so my noodles were not as soft as they should have been. Plus, I am not familiar with Japanese cooking techniques so they are no where near as pretty the dog lady’s noodles. That being said, they did taste like udon noodles and had the right outer texture. I was very happy with my first attempt.

Since I followed the video pretty closely, it would be silly re-type everything. So watch the video and look at the lovely photo sequence of my attempt.

As a good food blogger, I will actually post an original recipe too. This is a simple stir-fry I make often, just made it up one day with the random things I had in the fridge. It was a lovely accompaniment for the udon noodles.

Spinach and Tofu Stir-Fry
1/4 cup frozen or 1 cup fresh spinach
1/4 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic
1/4 of a block of firm tofu
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tps sesame seeds
1 tps red chili sauce

Heat some water or veggie broth in a skillet over medium heat.

Add spinach, onions, garlic, and tofu. Cook until the spinach is done (defrosted for frozen or wilted for fresh), and the tofu is heated through and lost most of its moisture.

Add the soy sauce and sesame seeds, cook for a minute or two more.

Remove from the heat and garnish with the chili sauce. Serve it over the udon noodles or whatever else you like.

Brown Rice Sushi

If, hypothetically—not like that one of my friends ever did this—you are at a sushi restaurant that says each order comes with 6 to 8 pieces,  don’t assume you get to pick whether you want 6,7,or 8 pieces. Because, hypothetically still, if each of you order 6 of your choice of sushi (thinking that means 6 pieces only) and say you had 3 people eating, that means you get 18 orders of sushi. Eighteen orders of 6-piece sushi would be 108 pieces and will take up two large trays. And, if this ever actually happens, don’t be the friend who just sits there even though it sounds odd when the waiter repeats back 6 orders of sushi each. But, if this does happen, make sure one of your friends can take home the remaining 10 orders of sushi and be forced to eat them for the next few days. Not that my friends and I ever let this happen….hahahaha

Anyways, my friend reminded me of this (hypothetical) story today, so I thought I attempt to make sushi again. I have tried a few times before and failed horribly. So I watched some videos on Youtube first and figured out what I was doing wrong.
I did not take pictures as I was making the sushi because, to be honest, I did not have high hopes for myself. But they came out good. Follow the steps in this video just like I did and you should be successful. I used different ingredients then what she uses in the video because hers are not vegan. You can put in whatever fillings you like really, these were just what I have on hand. You can use traditional or get creative. Mine aren’t typical but not too crazy. I used brown rice instead of white because it is more nutritious. 
And I have no idea why the lady is cooking with her dog. At least the dog is cute! 
Brown Rice Sushi
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs sugar 
1 tsp salt
2 sheets of toasted nori
Tofu, sliced into thin strips 
Dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated (I marinated them in soy sauce, garlic, and ginger too)
Handful of kale leafs
Follow the directions in the video (just minus the meat and non-vegan stuff), it explains it better than I can. It’s not that complicated, you just need the right technique. My recipe makes about two, 1 inch rolls. 
I wish I had some pickled ginger on the side, would have been the perfect finishing touch. I should have cut them a little smaller too. Oh well, next time. I am very proud of my first successful sushi meal.