I decided to remove the stress from Valentine’s day this year and cook a delicious meal for some girl friends. I was grading papers all day so I needed something that was relatively quick and easy to make. While my love for Yotam Ottolenghi runs deep, the recipes in Plenty can be filled with complicated ingredients that are time consuming to source – so I picked out the vegetarian Mee goreng – see recipe here – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/nov/01/mee-goreng-yotam-ottolenghi .
Ha that doesn’t sound like something that would be simple, does it? I’d actually never even heard of it before but it’s a Malaysian street food that is designed to be cheap and fast to make – so it was perfect! I must say Mr. Ottolenghi did not disappoint :)
Lauren and I took a trip to the Berkeley Bowl to grab the onions, bok choy, green beans, lettuce, tofu, egg noodles, bean sprouts, and the slightly more esoteric sambal oelek, which is a savory chile paste. Luckily the Berkeley Bowl basically has everything, so it wasn’t hard to find :) I’m finally getting to the point where I have a nice baseline of spices and oils so I didn’t have to buy the peanut oil, soy sauce, coriander, and cumin because I already had them at home! I also had lemons and green onions, which I figured could substitute for shallots.
Our friend Stella, another ecology grad student, met us at my apartment and brought the wine. After busting open the bottle of pinot noir and toasting to good friends, we washed and cut all the vegetables while grooving to Lauren’s favorite new tunes by Eric Church – Lauren’s from eastern Washington and has a thing for country, and I decided to humor her.
Since we got dried noodles and not fresh we cooked all the noodles first which I had to do in batches because there were a TON of them and my pot isn’t that large.
Luckily the cooking goes pretty quickly after all the prep is done. I didn’t realize that I needed to heat the pan before adding the peanut oil – whoops! It smoked as it heated – oh well, next time I will get it right :)
I ended up making two batches because the recipe says it serves two and there were three of us, but the servings in the recipe are super generous. I mean, I like big portions, but these are crazy big. Luckily I got to practice on the first batch, and decided that the noodle to vegetable and sauce ratio was way off and used half the noodles in the second batch.
I accidentally sort of burnt the green onions as there were many pans to keep track of at once and we were laughing too much while preparing the dinner… Despite the burnt onions the dish came out super delicious and refreshing tasting, and the fresh lemon squeezed on top added a lot. Turns out that wine, Mee goreng, and good friends is the recipe for the perfect Valentine’s day :) Of course, no meal is over without dessert, so we rounded it off with red bean mochi that Lauren and I had bought at Berkeley bowl and orange and chocolate Milanos that Stella brought over. Thanks Plenty for another great dish :)
2 tbsp peanut oil
½ onion, peeled and diced
220g firm tofu
100g green beans, trimmed and cut in half on an angle
100g bok choy, leaves and stems, cut into large chunks
300g fresh egg noodles
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sambal olek (or other savory chilli paste), plus extra to serve
2 tsp thick soy sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
50g bean sprouts
1 handful shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tbsp crispy fried shallots (available from oriental grocers; alternatively, use dry onion flakes)
Lemon wedges, to serve