Friday, September 10, 2010

Thai Basil Stir-Fry

Heading out of town, a fridge full of leftovers from this week. Any rational individual would heat up some veggie lasagna and hit the road. I, however, am rarely rational when it comes to food.

In the mood to cook, I wandered out to my little herb garden to see what was happening. Some of them have been looking a little worse for ware lately (so sorry, dear mint), but my Thai basil is looking absolutely beautiful.

The question is, what the hell am I going to do with it? Now, those of you who are thai-curry fanatics, like myself, I know what you are thinking. Whip up a hot green curry with creamy coconut milk, bell peppers, zucchini and green beans!!!! Seriously, I know. However, I am out of coconut milk and going to the store 2 hours before going out of town to get MORE food is insanity. Don't get me wrong. I did walk outside, with my purse, ready to do just that, but I quickly regained my composure and marched my rational butt right back into the kitchen with a determination to be a little more creative.

I thought about some of my favorite thai noodle dishes, and immediately decided to make a thai noodle stir-fry like pad see ew - my most recent favorite Thai dish on a long, ever-changing list of favorites. At my favorite Thai place in Central Virginia (one of those shack-type places that you hope remains your own personal secret forever), the pad see ew is made with wide, flat rice noodles, sweet thick soy sauce, onion, egg, fried tofu, thai basil, and a whole boatload of oil. I am incapable of even typing this without drooling all over my keyboard.

What a great idea!!! Too bad I had none of those ingredients on hand, save the basil. However, I did have soba noodles and some local broccoli rabe, which is very similar to Chinese broccoli. So, I went for it, and to my delight, the dish was oh-so-yummy. Totally satisfying in a "I can't stop eating this" kind of way. The Thai basil still shines, this noodle dish is much more nutrient-packed than a traditional pad see ew.

Thai Basil Noodles
Serves 2
Time: 15-20 minutes

Stir-fry Ingredients
3.5 grams dry soba noodles (about 1 bundle dry*, 2 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1/2 small onion, sliced thinly into half-rounds
1 TB minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 thai chili, finely chopped (any hot fresh chili here will do)
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
1 cup broccoli rabe or Chinese broccoli, coursly chopped
1 handful fresh Thai basil

Sauce Ingredients
1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce**
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Heat 3-4 cups water in a small saucepan. Once the water is boiling, add soba noodles and cook until tender (about 3-4 minutes). Drain the noodles immediately and run ice cold water over them until they are cooled. Leave in the sink to drain.

Spoon the cornstarch into a small bowl. Whisk the tamari in slowly to avoid clumping, then mix in all remaining sauce ingredients. Set aside.

Heat the canola oil in a large wok on high (8-9). When the oil is hot, add the onion. It will brown immediately, so make sure to move it around with tongs occasionally. If it starts to burn, pour a small amount of water into the pan. After 1-2 minutes, add garlic, ginger, and chile. Stir occasionally. Again, if garlic begins to burn, add a small amount of water. This is always an easy way to use high temperatures for a stir-fried taste without worrying about charring the food.

After 1-2 minutes, add peppers and zucchini. After another 1-2 minutes, throw in the broccoli rabe and Thai basil. Then add the soba noodles, separating them with your fingers as you drop them into the wok. Pour in the sauce mixture and combine carefully with tongs until incorporated. Cook on high for another 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice, then remove from heat. Serve immediately and garnish with chili sauce (Sriracha) if desired.


*The soba noodles at my Asian market are usually packed in boxes, and the noodles themselves are bundled into 4-8 little round packs, tied with a small black piece of paper. I used 1 little round bundle for this recipe.

** Tamari is like a dark soy sauce. You can easily substitute another tablespoon of regular soy sauce if you don't have this on hand.

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