Wednesday, September 16, 2009
spicy peanut noodles with bean sprouts & stir-fried baby bok choy
back to school
This week Meredith started preschool again, and we’re ALL thrilled! It’s her third year, so it’s familiar but still exciting, and she’s so happy to see her teachers and friends again. Of course, she’s missing the older cohort that left for kindergarten, so that’s a little sad, but she’s learning to fill in for them and play the “big kid” role, helping the new little ones. We were so grateful for the nurturing and sweet care of her friend Karli last year; I hope Meredith can be as kind a friend to some of the younger ones this year.
To celebrate, Dan and I went for a tandem bike ride today after dropping Meredith off! What a treat to have the weather and the time to escape for a little mid-day adventure. Don’t get me wrong—I love family outings, too—but riding the bike without hauling our 40-pound five-year-old in the bike trailer is pretty wonderful. And this way, we all get our fresh air and exercise, and then can spend quiet time together when she gets home.
I love having the time during the day to do my work, and to prepare for the evening so that I can feel focused and calm about spending special time with Meredith. It doesn’t always happen, but this week, she definitely needs the extra tender loving care—she is worn to a thread when she gets home!
Since I had a little extra time yesterday, I could try a new recipe. See what you think!
spicy peanut noodles with bean sprouts & sautéed baby bok choy
Because I had a little more time today, I had a chance to explore an old cookbook (Noodle, by Terry Durack) for a recipe to accompany the baby bok choy we’d traded Mr. Stockwell for our kalamata olive bread at the Saturday Farmers Market. I ended up deciding on a spicy peanut noodle recipe. Of course, I made a complete mockery of his recipe, adding way more veggies than was called for, and substituting pantry ingredients for unknown Asian ones.
Even though you probably already have your favorite peanut noodle recipe, consider trying this one. It’s different because I’ve used at least equal parts (if not more) mung mean sprouts to cooked noodles. But you can’t really tell because the sprouts are noodle-shaped, and coated with the yummy sauce! Lightly blanched, they add a great crunch to the softer bite of the noodles, and they make the dish lighter and healthier! This dish is fantastic at room temperature, too—so you can make this for a potluck or eat it cold for leftovers.
When I made this, I made a double batch of the sauce to make sure I had enough for all those bean sprouts. I think you’ll be fine with a single batch, but since it makes such great leftovers, why not make a double batch anyway?
1 teaspoon peanut oil (I like to use Loriva toasted peanut oil)
2 to 3 tablespoons grated or finely chopped fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 6 cups mung bean sprouts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
½ teaspoon chili oil (or substitute a pinch of cayenne, to your taste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons peanut butter (I love Maranatha organic—it’s SO creamy and yummy, even the crunchy variety, which is my preference)
2 tablespoons water
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like to use Nama Shoyu, which you can get at Natural Pantry)
1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ pound spaghetti (I like to use whole wheat, but use what you prefer)
4 scallions, finely sliced
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add a couple of tablespoons of salt.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut oil with grated ginger and sugar.
3. Blanch bean sprouts in the boiling water, and scoop them out after a minute, letting them drain and cool.
4. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan just until they start to brown. Crush them lightly in a mortar and pestle.
5. Add the chili oil (or cayenne), sesame oil, peanut butter, water and toasted sesame seeds to the ginger and oil mixture and whisk to combine. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and pepper, whisking again. Taste and add more soy sauce if you like.
6. Cook the noodles in the boiling water until they are done to your liking. Drain them, put them in a big bowl, add the bean sprouts, and toss them immediately with enough sauce to coat everything nicely. Add more sauce to your taste.
7. Plate each serving alongside a vegetable (like the baby bok choy) and top with a generous sprinkling of scallions.
sauteed baby bok choy
4 to 6 baby bok choy
4 to 6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
sea salt or kosher salt
1. Trim the bottom ends off each boy choy, take them apart and slice the leaves lengthwise into halves.
2. Heat the oil over very high heat and sauté the garlic until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add the baby bok choy leaves and ½ teaspoon of salt and sauté until the leaves are wilted, stirring to get the garlic up off the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t burn.
4. If the leaves are all wilted and the pan is dry, but the stems are still very crunchy, add ¼ cup water, cover the pan, and let the leaves steam until the stems are tender. Add more salt to taste, and serve.