Thai Broccoli and Noodles

I’ve been thinking about Thailand a lot lately. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we were running around Bangkok getting drenched in celebration of Songkran. Of all the things I miss the most, food is definitely near the top of the list. I miss the fruit man who sold bags of freshly cut watermelon, pineapple, and papaya near my bus stop. I miss the lady with the coffee cart near my work who sold me cafe boran every day (and ohhh how I miss cafe boran!) I really miss the food carts in our old neighborhood, selling papaya salad, fried rice, and noodle soup.

There was a woman who ran a food cart just in front of our building who Mike and I nicknamed “Shot Caller.” This woman ran the street and bossed everyone around, all from her lounge chair (with freshly manicured toes – a different color every day). She was very concerned about my job, Mike’s job, where he was when I came to get food by myself, whether we liked Bangkok, and how long we would be staying. She spoke pretty decent English, but usually about halfway through our conversations she would revert to Thai and get incredibly frustrated when I couldn’t say more than “I want chicken” or “very spicy.”

One of the employees at her food cart made a similar dish to this, and when I made it the other night, it immediately took me back. To be more authentic, you should use fresh rice noodles, but I hardly ever have those on hand, so I used dried here. Vegetarian oyster sauce should be pretty easy to find at an Asian grocery store, as should black bean sauce.

Recipe:
(adapted from Thai Cooking from the Siam Cuisine Restaurant)

1/2 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
7 ounces dried rice noodles, soaked in warm water until soft
2 tsp soy sauce

1 large head broccoli, separated in to florets and stem peeled and thinly sliced
10 ounces extra firm tofu, thinly sliced
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 tsp black bean sauce
1 clove finely minced garlic
2/3 cup water or vegetable broth
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp soy sauce

Steam the broccoli florets and stems until crisp-tender.
Mix the corn starch with 1 tbsp water and set aside.
Cook the tofu in a nonstick skillet until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To prepare the noodles: heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium high. Add the garlic and stir until golden, then add the noodles and soy sauce. Stir fry for several minutes, until noodles are hot and soft. Transfer to a serving platter.

Heat the remaining oil in the same pan. Add the garlic and bean sauce and fry until very fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the broth or water, oyster sauce, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and corn starch mixture, and bring to a boil to thicken. Stir in the broccoli and tofu, mix well, then immediately pour over the rice noodles.

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