Category Archives: eating in

Zucchini-egg-wood ear jiaozi with store-bought skins

I got my hands on some premade jiaozi skins at Carrefour the other day (32 skins for 2.3 RMB). Life changing stuff. It cut dumpling-making time by more than half and transformed the activity from a physically demanding to a mentally calming one (as long as I’m not questioning what they put in the dough). The act of wrapping and sealing dumplings lets me block out the world and focus on the task at hand, bringing me back to childhood days of arts and craft, with an added bonus: the anticipation of a good meal to come.

On Thursday (yes, a workweek night), I made a batch containing grated zucchini, egg, and finely chopped wood ear/black fungus (木耳, mùěr). While not as fragrant as Chinese chives, the zucchini had a delightful mild sweetness and crunch, while the tiny bits of scrambled egg mixed with crunchy wood ear formed a texture reminiscent of lean ground pork.

The store-bought skins were slightly more springy/chewy/rubbery than my homemade ones, and more translucent and glossy once cooked. Because they’d been sitting out for at least half a day, they were also a bit drier — but with a fingertip of water, still very workable. Too bad the skins only keep for 1-2 days (according to the guy at Carrefour), or I’d totally stockpile that shiet.

The following night, we made potstickers (锅贴, guōtiē) out of the dozen uncooked dumplings we had left over. Pan-frying dumplings involves quite a bit more work than simple boiling, but the crunchy end result made them even more of a delight to eat.



Zucchini-egg-wood ear jiaozi (角瓜鸡蛋木耳饺子)

500g (~2 small) zucchini, tops and ends removed
3 large pieces wood ear/black fungus (~1/4 cup finely chopped)
3 medium eggs (or 4 small eggs), beaten with 1 tsp of water
1 tbsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper

~3 dozen pre-made dumpling skins
Water for sealing
Flour for dusting

Black rice vinegar
Soy sauce to taste
Sesame oil to taste

Filling: Place wood ear pieces in a bowl of water to soak. Peel and grate zucchini. Grab handfuls and squeeze out as much water as possible, then transfer to a colander. Add a small amount of oil to pan and “scramble” eggs on medium heat, breaking them up into very small pieces while cooking. Remove from heat and let cool. Once wood ear is soft and jelly-like, cut off the hard center bit, then chop finely. Transfer grated zucchini into large bowl, add egg, wood ear, and salt, sesame oil, and white pepper and mix thoroughly.

Wrapping: Place a small spoonful of filling onto center of a skin. Dip a finger in water and run wet fingertip around the edge of the entire skin. Fold in half, sealing the center first, then pleat from center outwards — or simply crimp and seal the edges tightly, ensuring there are no holes. Place on a floured clean, flat surface (e.g. chopping board). Dumpling should be plump but not threatening to burst. Repeat for all skins, making sure dumplings are not touching. A pool of liquid from the zucchini may start to form in bottom of bowl; try to keep filling as dry as possible by draining with the spoon as you go.

Boiling: Boil a large pot of water. Gently drop dumplings into water, and cook until they float to the top and skin looks translucent and is not doughy when you bite into it. Dish them out with a slotted spoon or spatula, and serve with vinegar.

Pan-frying (will need to cook in batches): Add about 1 tbsp of oil to a non-stick pan (more oil for other pans). Place dumplings smooth side down in a single layer, then turn on heat and fry for ~3 minutes until the bottoms have browned. Add ~1cm of hot water and cover with a lid. Let cook until most of the water has evaporated. (The crusty side will have turned soggy.) Lift the lid and continue to cook until all water is gone and the bottoms have hardened and crusted again, then use chopsticks to flip to another side, cooking until golden brown. Serve with vinegar.

(If there is filling left over, save and add to your next meal. That stuff will fit right in with any stir-fry or even pasta.)



Where to find:

  • Dumpling skins (饺子皮, jiǎozi pí): Carrefour, 2.3 RMB/32 skins. Find them in the fresh noodles/buns section.
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    Dairy-free, eggless, banana-based ice cream

    There’s been a cool, rainy spell in Shanghai lately, but the weather people tell us summer isn’t over yet. As long as I’m still comfortable in shorts, I’m going to keep letting myself indulge in the best part of summer: ice cream. (Which might explain why I’ve disturbingly gained back half the weight I’d lost back in June…)

    So I was super excited to discover, while going through my facebook feed one boring workday, someone’s reposting of a “healthy” ice cream recipe. It called for a whopping — ready? — 3 ingredients: frozen banana chunks, peanut butter, and honey. I’d made mung bean popsicles and PBJ froyo pops earlier this summer, but there’s nothing like the indulgent creaminess of soft ice cream. Since those ingredients are foods we always have around at home, I tried it that very night.

    The first attempt failed as my impatience led me to use banana chunks that weren’t yet quite frozen, but a couple more tries in the following days (executed by Sean, who jumped on the idea in an instant) finally led to success. The result is a cold, creamy, smooth dessert that tastes and feels like soft serve — and is actually good for you!

    I’d known that bananas are often used in lieu of eggs in vegan baked goods, but had no idea they could come out so deliciously creamy when frozen. Even though ripe bananas are used, the banana flavour isn’t overpowering. With no dairy ingredients, this recipe is lactose-intolerant friendly, and vegan-izable if you ditch the honey — which you totally could if the bananas are ripe enough. We spiced ours up with cinnamon and vanilla extract, and plan to try it with some dark chocolate chunks next time.

    [Edit: Tried it with the chocolate tonight, FAIL! Even though we nuked the chocolate for 20 seconds before adding it to the mixture, it solidified right back up upon contact with the frozen banana. We ended up with tiny bland bits of chocolate in the ice cream which killed the texture and did nothing for flavour.]

    We lost our faithful blender of nearly two years on our third ice cream-making attempt. We’d been meaning to replace it for weeks (months) now, as the hardened grime on its sides became impossible to ignore, but it’d been working fine up until that fateful evening when it began to moan and then slow down. For 99 RMB, it couldn’t be beat. RIP.


    Dairy-free banana-peanut butter ice cream

    3 medium very ripe bananas
    1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
    1 tbsp honey (optional)
    2 tsp vanilla (optional)
    1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

    1. Peel bananas, slice each into 10 chunks, and place in freezer for 3+ hours or until frozen.
    2. Remove from freezer and microwave on medium-high for about 1 minute. This will make it easier to process.
    3. Add bananas, peanut butter, and other ingredients to blender/food processor and blend until creamy, like soft serve ice cream. You will need to stop and scrape the sides down several times, or push it down with a spoon as it is blending. Don’t worry if small chunks of banana remain; these are delicious as they have the texture of hard ice cream. Do NOT spend too long on this step as the mixture doesn’t stay solid for long.
    4. Transfer to a bowl or two and enjoy immediately!

    Makes about 2 servings.


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    Rebounding with homemade chive and egg jiaozi

    After ending relations with our neighbourhood jiaozi lady about a month ago, I’d resolved to quickly find another provider of cheap and delicious (meatless) dumplings. All but four days had passed before Sean suggested that I take matters into my own hands… and so I did.

    Making jiaozi is a long-standing Chinese New Year tradition, and seems to be the quintessential culinary activity for anyone wishing to “experience” Chinese culture. And no wonder: jiaozi, with regional variations, are enjoyed by Chinese all over, from Dongbei (Northeast) to Guangdong to Gansu. When I went to Beijing for a two-week Mandarin summer camp in high school, we spent an afternoon making dumplings at a local’s home. Growing up in Canada, I would sometimes help my grandma wrap dumplings, embarrassed by my unpracticed fingers and the awkward, amateur look of “my” batch.

    Up until recently, making dumplings for me has only involved the act of sealing a spoonful of filling that someone else has prepared in a skin that someone else has made. The Chinese phrase for making dumplings is 包饺子 (bao jiaozi), literally to wrap dumplings, which somewhat masks all the other tasks involved in creating a batch of jiaozi from scratch — preparing the filling, making the dough, rolling and cutting it into round skins. Making chive and egg jiaozi that day made me appreciate how much effort really goes into the whole process — and why packaged, frozen dumplings are such a big sell.

    Anyway, it was a success if the minuscule time spent eating:time spent making ratio was any indication! We split about 3 dozen between lunch and dinner, and followed up the following Sunday with a batch of zucchini-egg-wood ear dumplings (sounds weird, but it works). Not only were our tummies satisfied, but our heartbreak and sense of loss soon turned into smug giddiness: so this was what self-love could feel (and taste) like.

    The filling

    We lifted the chive-and-egg idea from our ex-dumpling provider, though this really is just a classic combo. Chinese chives (韭菜) are fragrant, even pungent, and mixed with egg and enough salt and white pepper, pack a pound of flavour in each dumpling.

    The skin

    Even though a basic flour-and-water dough sounds simple enough to make, this was the most time-consuming and labour-intensive part. I won’t hate on home cooks who use store-bought dumpling wrappers, but totally admire those who make their own, as it is a LOT of work… especially when the only rolling pin you can find at the supermarket is a primitive wooden stick, which makes getting the skin sufficiently thin a challenge in itself.

    Wrapping time

    First batch (Sean’s ones remind me of pierogi, mmmm):

    Second batch:

    Ready to eat

    Results of the first batch (lunch):

    The second batch (dinner):

    Not too shabby for my first dumplings in a decade and Sean’s very first, eh? And none of them exploded in the water, which was a plus. Now that we’ve made this stuff from scratch, though, we might holler at some pre-made skins in the future — though they seem fairly hard to come by in these parts.



    Chive and egg jiaozi

    Skins
    2 cups all-purpose/jiaozi flour
    1/2 cup potable water
    Extra flour for dusting
    1/2 cup lukewarm water for wrapping

    Filling
    1 lb Chinese chives, washed and drained, browned ends and roots (white parts) removed
    4 eggs, beaten
    2 tsp salt
    1 tsp ground white pepper
    1 tbsp sesame oil

    Dipping sauce
    Black rice vinegar
    Soy sauce to taste
    Sesame oil to taste

    Tools
    Rolling pin (or a large jar if you have nothing else)
    Glass or tumbler with diameter of 7-8cm (3in) at the mouth

    Dough: Mix flour with water in large mixing bowl until a dough begins to form, then transfer to clean flat surface and knead with hands until dough is soft and pliable (no crumbly or floury parts). Dough will be slightly dry, but resist the urge to add more water unless mixture remains crumbly after a lot of kneading. Separate into two balls, wrap with damp paper towel, and let sit for 20 minutes.

    Filling: Add a small amount of oil to pan and “scramble” eggs on medium heat, breaking them up into very small pieces while cooking. Remove from heat and let cool. Finely chop chives and place in large bowl, then add cooked egg, salt, sesame oil, and white pepper and mix well. Set aside.

    Skin: With dry and floured hands, take a ball of dough and rework until smooth. Lightly dust chopping board or countertop with flour and roll flat (2mm thick). Using a thin-edged tumbler, cut out circles in the dough, dust with flour, then move wrappers onto another floured surface. Gather unused dough and repeat. Repeat for remaining ball(s) of dough. (There are probably faster ways to do this but this is the way I remember from childhood.)

    Wrapping: Put a small spoonful of filling onto center of a skin. Dip finger in water and run wet fingertip along the edge of the skin, stopping halfway. Fold the dry half over and pleat from center outwards, or simply seal the edges tightly, ensuring there are no holes. Dumpling should be plump but not threatening to burst.

    Boil a large pot of water. Gently drop dumplings into water, and cook until they float to the top and skin looks translucent. Dish them out with a slotted spoon or spatula, and serve with vinegar (and soy sauce/sesame oil if desired). Test cook the first few for taste, adjusting seasonings accordingly.

    Yields approx. 3 dozen large or 40+ medium-sized dumplings. Uncooked dumplings can be frozen on trays then transferred into ziploc bags.

    Relevant resources:

  • Recipe for chive and egg dumplings (in Chinese)
  • Where I got the proportions for the skin
  • Youku video on dumpling wrapping
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    Crispy tofu cubes with sweet chili dipping sauce

    When my vegan friend from the States came to visit last year, she was in awe of the selection of tofu/related vegetarian products at the supermarket. While soy products have generally remained a vegetarian’s food in the western world, they enjoy such widespread use in China, appreciated even by meat lovers, that you basically can’t have a supermarket or wet market without a dedicated tofu counter (except City Shop, for shame).

    I’ve been cooking with tofu a fair bit in the two years I’ve been in Shanghai, but up until recently have kept to only a handful of familiar douzhipin (豆制品) — products made of soy/mung/other beans that, along with wheat gluten products, are usually displayed in the tofu counter(s). It’s a little embarrassing, actually, that I haven’t gotten to know them all yet, so I’ve resolved to buy them all and try them all at least once — ’cause, really, when or where else am I going to be this spoiled for choice again? Some of these products, like soft tofu and deep-fried tofu puffs, have long been known to and loved by me, while others are new and mysterious and will require some major baidu-ing.

    Firm tofu

    I’ll start this series with a familiar block of firm tofu. You can get this in a sealed, water-filled container or in a plastic baggy and priced by weight. I’m inclined to think the latter is more fresh, but with all the sneaky date relabelling practices these days, who really knows. Called laodoufu (老豆腐, literally old tofu) in Chinese, it is off-white, dense, and springy and (surprise!) firm to the touch. With a lower water content than soft or silken tofu, firm tofu will hold its shape in the pan and is thus a good choice for stir-fries, “steaks” and such.

    I’ve incorporated diced firm tofu into veggie stir-fries before, but had never prepared it as a stand-alone dish. But the other day I stumbled upon a recipe calling for tofu to be coated in cornstarch before frying, and my life was forever changed.

    You see, before, I’d always just put it directly on the pan and wondered why the edges never got crispy. No more! This stuff looked like cubes of chicken breast in the pan, then when I dished them out I started imagining they were pieces of crispy Cantonese roast pork (烧肉) (signs of a deranged vegetarian?). Dipping the cubes in Thai sweet chili sauce, Sean and I polished off the entire plate in a matter of minutes.



    Pan-fried crispy tofu cubes
    The cornstarch coating gives the tofu a crispy exterior without all the oil that goes into deep-frying. (They do start to lose their crisp more quickly than if deep-fried, however.) Great at absorbing surrounding flavours, these tofu cubes are delicious served with a sweet dipping sauce and make a healthy alternative to deep-fried meaty appetizers. Don’t skimp on the salt (unless for health reasons)!

    1 block (extra-)firm tofu, approx. 12x12x8cm
    2 tbsp cornstarch

    1 tsp salt or to taste
    1/2 tsp white pepper or to taste (optional)

    1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce

    1. Rinse tofu well and pat dry with clean paper towel. Cut tofu into 2cm cubes and pat dry again. Sprinkle 1/4 of cornstarch in bottom of large bowl and add one layer of tofu, then add rest of cornstarch and tofu alternately. Toss gently to coat without breaking up the tofu.
    2. Heat 2 tbsp oil on a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and spread as a single layer on pan. Let cook undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until bottoms of cubes are golden brown and have hardened into a crust.
    3. Sprinkle salt and white pepper evenly on tofu, then flip onto other side using a spatula (use chopsticks to aid you). Some of the tofu pieces will be stuck together from the cornstarch, but that’s okay — just cut them lose with the spatula. Cook for another few minutes until bottoms are browned and crispy.
    4. Toss tofu gently with the spatula so the other sides have a chance to cook briefly, then transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
    5. Serve immediately with a bowl of Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping.

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    Homemade PBJ frozen yogurt pops

    Warning peanut-butter-jelly fans: this may keep you by your freezer for the rest of the summer.

    While looking up a jiaozi recipe the other day, I caught sight of a link for “peanut butter frozen yogurt” and was instantly intrigued. It’s been hot. Sean loves peanut butter. I’ve been dying to expand my repertoire of desserts not requiring an oven. When I found how out easy it was to make (frozen yogurt really is just yogurt that’s frozen! Well, plus a few things around the kitchen), I headed immediately for the fridge.

    Inspired by the recipe that recipe was inspired by, I added a fruity twist by throwing a spoonful of raspberry jam in with the peanut butter, milk, yogurt, and honey. The raspberry seeds and peanut chunks gave this sweet (and slightly salty) treat extra texture and a sort of natural, healthier feel.

    While these creamy ice pops do contain whole milk, full-fat yogurt, and Skippy peanut butter (yes, not the most natural PB around), I’ve already convinced myself that this is still better for me than store-bought ice-cream with its chemicals and artificial flavourings (sorry, Magnum, I still love you). Once you try these, you will too :-)

    And if you’re trying to do with fewer carbs this summer, this perfect combo of ingredients is basically a breadless breakfast on a stick that you can even take for the road. No, I’m not even kidding.


    Berry peanut butter frozen yogurt pops
    Adapted from this recipe. For enhanced texture, use crunchy peanut butter and jam with seeds/fruit pieces instead of jelly.

    1/3 cup peanut butter
    1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry (or other berry) jam
    1/2 cup milk
    1 cup (160g) plain, sweetened yogurt
    2 tbsp honey (or more if using unsweetened yogurt)

    1. Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Do a taste test: it should taste very sweet (the sweetness will lessen once it’s frozen).
    2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or into shot glasses and place in freezer. If using shot glasses, stick a wooden stirrer or half a wooden disposable chopstick in the centre of each after about an hour. Freeze for another two hours or until completely solid.
    3. Remove the frozen treat from its mold by running under or dipping in warm water. Enjoy!

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    LightRefreshingCool: soba noodles with dipping sauce

    Shanghai summer, electric with the endless buzz of cicadas, is in full swing. With the mercury hitting — and passing — 35C for days on end, hovering over a gas stove to make a hot meal begins to its appeal. Ice cream and fruit smoothies keep me cool, but what to do for an actual meal?

    Enter soba noodles, which I’d prepared before in various ways. This very useful blog post I came across when googling how to cook soba noodles properly inspired me to do it the summertime Japanese way, served cold with dipping sauce.

    I’ve made a few modifications from the above-linked recipe based on what I’ve got in the kitchen and to suit my own taste: plates instead of bamboo sieves (which look pretty but look like a pain to wash), peanut/sesame-based sauce rather than the traditional soba tsuyu, and whatever cool toppings I have on hand (or none at all).

    The result is a quick-to-prepare and fun-to-eat meal that’s high on flavour and low on heat. And kinda addictive — I’ve had this three times in the past 4 days! The recipe below is my twist on the theme.



    15-minute cold soba noodles with nutty dipping sauce

    100g soba (buckwheat) noodles (荞麦面)

    Dipping sauce
    1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    2 tsbp peanut butter or pure sesame paste (black or white)
    1 tsp black rice vinegar (鎮江香醋)
    1 tsp sesame oil
    4-5 tbsp lukewarm water
    1.5 tsp sugar
    2 tsp light soy sauce

    Toppings
    1 tbsp finely chopped green onion
    Half a carrot, cut into matchsticks
    Half a cucumber, cut into matchsticks
    Other raw veggies or cold tofu

    1. Sprinkle soba noodles in large pot of boiling water. Use chopsticks to immerse all noodles in water, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until cooked through (taste to test).
    2. While noodles are cooking, prepare the toppings by cutting up the vegetables. If using carrot and/or cucumber, sprinkle lightly with salt and drizzle with a little sesame oil.
    3. In a small bowl, mix all sauce ingredients together with a spoon. Peanut butter may remain in small clumps. Taste and adjust amounts to suit your preference. Place green onions in sauce.
    4. Once noodles are cooked, drain into a colander, then rinse under a steady stream of cold water until noodles are cool to the touch. Wash the noodles actively by picking up bunches and swishing them around directly under the water until they are no longer gummy. Or follow these detailed steps. Because Chinese tap water isn’t safe for consumption, either do a final rinse with potable water, or pour (fresh) boiling water over the noodles as a last step.
    5. Take small bunches of noodles and place them one by one on a plate or serving platter.
    6. To eat, pick up a portion of noodles with chopsticks and dip briefly in sauce, then eat immediately. Serve with cold vegetables.

    Serves 1. Increase amounts proportionally to suit additional diners. Each person should get their own bowl of dipping sauce, unless you don’t mind sharing :-)

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    In love: light green spaghetti

    I’m in love with the zucchini in noodle form.

    Although its heavy-handed supermarket packaging upsets the environmentalist in me, I’ve learned to peel back the plastic and see it for the astonishingly versatile vegetable that it is.

    Having come across pictures of enviable zucchini noodles, I just had to get my hands on a julienne slicer and try it for myself. After a good long look in my local Trust-Mart last week, I settled for a clunky 8.9 RMB double-ended vegetable peeler/grater that, while decent with the zucchini, birthed bruises on my finger with its half-brained non-ergonomic design.

    The great thing about the zucchini is that it’s firmer than a cucumber but not hard like a carrot, making it a delight to handle on the chopping board. Once I got the hang of it, my zucchini-noodling quickly got up to speed. I left the zucchini strands to “sweat” for 15 minutes — not sure if this step is necessary, but I’d rather wait than risk having the stuff go watery on me. Plus, this gave me time to cook the rest of the ingredients.

    As zucchini water drip-dropped away, I cooked up some button mushrooms, doufu gan (dried tofu) strips, and the chopped zucchini, and made a simple white sauce. Once this was done, I cooked the zucchini noodles with some green pepper strips, threw everything else back in the pan along with some herbs, and got them nice and cozy with one another.

    WOW. I’d thought my ribboned zucchini was good, but this was mind-blowing. These zucchini noodles had the look and feel of spaghetti: firm but yielding with just enough bite, substantial (not watery or mushy) and perfectly al dente. Tastewise, the mild-flavoured zucchini “held” my rather thin cream sauce very well in each forkful, making for delightful slurping.

    The other ingredients, especially the mushrooms, were excellent accompaniments, which was a relief considering I hadn’t followed a recipe. The tofu, which is mildly flavoured with five-spice, had been a last-minute throw in, but rather than clash with the western flavours, it gave the dish a welcome meatiness (kinda like chicken strips).

    The most divine aspect of this meal was that I was getting the pasta satisfaction from a vegetable, and felt completely guiltless about it. Who knew that simply cutting a vegetable differently could transform its identity, and even allow it to unabashedly take the place of something so comforting as pasta?

    Next time, though, I’ll try to make it an even lighter, greener spaghetti by getting the zucchini from the wet market, where it is sold wrapped only in its own skin.


    Zucchini spaghetti with mushrooms in cream sauce
    I’m sure these zucchini noodles would also be at home in a tomato-based sauce, though I like the idea of a creamy sauce because the noodles are already low in calories — if I’m doing all this work to make my own noodles, might as well indulge a little bit :-) Feel free to play around with the toppings, but don’t let their volume overwhelm the noodles.

    The noodles
    4 medium-sized zucchini, peeled
    1 tsp salt

    The topping
    1 pack (12-16) button mushrooms, thoroughly washed and sliced
    2 pieces dried tofu (the less flavoured the better), thinly sliced
    1 green pepper, julienned
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

    The sauce
    1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp flour
    Salt to taste

    Extras
    Black pepper
    Italian herb mix (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)
    Red pepper flakes (optional)
    Olive oil

    1. “Noodle” the zucchini by running a julienne slicer/large-holed grater along the length of the vegetable. With each zucchini, stop when you reach the seeded core. Chop up the cores into small bits and set aside. Place zucchini noodles in a colander and toss with salt. Set a dish underneath the colander to hold drained liquid.
    2. Heat 2 tsp oil on a pan and add mushrooms. Sautee 2-3 min until soft, then season with black pepper. Remove from pan.
    3. Add tofu slices and chopped zucchini (I added half and saved half for the next meal, but feel free to add all) to pan and cook for 2-3 min in leftover mushroom liquid. Remove from pan.
    4. Prepare a basic cream sauce by melting butter on low heat, stirring in flour until smooth (about 3 minutes), and adding milk and cooking on medium-heat heat for another 3 minutes, stirring the whole time. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl.
    5. Heat 2 tsp oil in pan, add garlic, green pepper, and zucchini strands. Cook, tossing, for 3 minutes, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add herbs, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Allow sauce to be thoroughly reheated, then serve with freshly ground black pepper.

    Serves 2 as a meal (4 medium-platefuls).


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    The obligatory soup noodle post

    There’s one of these homemade-Asian-noodle-soup photos in practically every food/cooking blog, it seems, so I might as well add mine now: buckwheat (soba) noodles with plump shiitake mushrooms in homemade stock, drizzled with sesame oil.

    To up my vegetable intake for this meal, I fried up some well-salted and -sesamed zucchini ribbons (now my favourite way to eat zucchini :).

    There’s something hugely satisfying and — in a land where broth or stock is often another way of saying MSG-water — wonderfully pure about slurping a simple bowl of noodles in stock I’ve made myself.

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