Tuesday, April 27, 2010
So every Sunday, I head over to the kitchen to whip up a big batch of food for lunch next week. Yes, I brown bag. And I almost always do it, unless I become too busy to even buy cold cuts from the deli. I do it for several reasons being health, finance, and laziness. Now, you may think that spending hours on a day off to prep and cook five meals at once is hardly lazy. But let me remind you, I hate it when the time comes to decide what to eat for lunch every day. I work in Midtown so the choices are endless. My problem, the more choices, the harder it is for me. So it's much easier for me to have my lunch ready and already decided. So my lunch for the week: Mixed Chili Noodles I was craving Asian food really badly. And I wanted to make something good for lunch. I've been working really long hours at work. So something hearty and substantial was the way to go. I was shopping at an Asian food store the other day, and found this interesting bag of noodles. They look like normal rice based noodles. But in fact, they're mung bean noodles. Yes, these noodles are made of beans. The texture was completely different: more chewy. The instructions on the bag tells me to soak the noodles for 10-20 minutes. They're really stiff and hard right out of the bag. But a nice soaking in cold water loosened them up nicely. However, they weren't soft enough to eat yet. They needed to be boiled and cooked lightly. More on that later. The next ingredient is Chinese sausage. They usually come in a pack of 8 or so. They're many different kinds but I usually buy the kind that doesn't involve liver. I keep these frozen until I'm ready to use them. I put them in a shallow pan of water and bring them to a boil. I put in enough water to come up halfway up the sausages. I boil the sausages until they water completely evaporates. Once that's done, I saute them until the skin is crispy. You can tell that the sausages are cooked when they're plump and bright red. Do not feel tempted to cut into them too quickly. The oil and juices will leak out and they won't be as tasty anymore. Once cooled, I sliced them in half lengthwise. Then I cut them into small slices on an angle. Next up, the vegetables. I really enjoy snow pea tips. They're kind of difficult to find. It's even more difficult to find tender snow peas. If the veggies are remotely aged, then they're difficult to eat. Chewy and very stringy. I was lucky that these were tender and delicious. They're very easy to cook. Get a large pan heated. Add some oil. Then add the snow pea tips to the hot pan and oil. Add salt and let the leaves wilt and become tender. Once softened, remove from the heat immediately. Overcooking these will surely leave it unappetizing. When cooled, run your kitchen scissors through them roughly to make them into smaller pieces. And now, the ingredient: tofu. Fried tofu, in fact. These are already cooked. So all you have to do is slice then up to bite sizes. These taste pretty good by themselves. No need for seasoning. I could eat these as is. Yum! And lastly, the mushrooms. I used enoki mushrooms here. They're long and tender. They cook really easily and taste fantastic. I take a pan and add some oil. Once hot, I add the mushroom in small piece. I saute them until brown. I added some soy sauce for taste. And now we're back to the noodles. Remember they need to be cooked, right? So bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt. When it's at a rolling boil, add the noodles. Once the water comes back to a slight boil, drain the noodles. You do NOT want to overcook these as they will disintegrate into the water. Then you won't have any noodles anymore. Just mush and pieces. Once drained, add some sauce and oil to prevent them from sticking together. Here, I used regular vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic chili sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce. I added the sausage too because they contain oils that will flavor the noodles. Once mixed, I added the other ingredients thoroughly. Don't be too rough to break the tofu pieces or the noodles. So how does it taste? Awesome! The noodles are chewy and holds up well from the fridge and microwave. It's slightly spicy from the chili and garlic sauce. I love the flavor of this sauce. The sesame oil adds a nice toasted taste. The sausage is so flavorful and delicious. The snow pea tips and mushrooms balance the fattiness of the sausage. The tofu adds a nice clear balance of flavor. And texturally, it's definitely welcomed. I would definitely make this again. The ingredients are cheap but the outcome is delicious!