Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Noodles with Cabbage, Mushrooms and Roasted Seaweed (Seaweed's from the snack pack!)

The atrocious 80-ish percent humidity in summer-like temperatures is no stranger in Singapore. Unbearable. In a short span of two months during my visit, I came across two local newspapers featuring hardy cabbage (grows best in COLD mountainous regions) in their food columns. Kinda ironic. Our local newspapers seldom (not never though) rave seasonal produce - like how SFgate puts a spotlight on Asparagus and how The NY Times cast Watercress spell during Spring, cos' there is no Spring here except for the occasional thunderstorms. Where both local food columns coincidentally were on the shelf life and versatility of cabbage, I am like..."Well. Okay. I am one of them". One of them who always keeps cabbage in my fridge.

That is how I do my food planning because I only go shopping for groceries once a week. So I need to ensure a constant supply of vegetables for the entire week after the weekend. Note1: I buy both leafy greens such as kailan/bok choy/choy sum, and hardy vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and squash/gourd so that on Monday, Tuesday (start of the week), I get to use the more perishable leafy vegetables before they get limp and weak; and come Thursday, Friday (end of the week), I get to use the hardier vegetables which still stand strong even if I were to forsake them for another week in the fridge.

***BEWARE***A friend used to tell me a dark secret. When you see a small round head of cabbage on the grocery shelves, it might be because the outer leaves of the cabbage have wilted or bruised, so these larger leaves are being removed (torn away from the rest of the pack), exposing the smaller (perfect) head of cabbage for sale to consumers - you and me. :O   ..Be frank: isn't this what we do at home? We try to discard the bruised leaves from the cabbage by tearing away the first few outer leaves - and the cabbage becomes smaller and smaller...Gawd!

Note2: I use instant noodles "cakes" for this. I partially cook them in boiling water prior to using, in order to get rid of the "oil" which they have been pre-fried in during manufacturing. Switch to healthier, "fry-able" options such as Udon, Fresh Egg Noodles or Pasta, if you have to.

Stir-Fry Noodles with Cabbage, Mushrooms and Seaweed
Ingredients: 3 cloves of garlic, minced; 1 tsp grated ginger; 2 tablespoons of ground chicken (omit if  Vegetarian); 4-6 fresh shitake mushrooms caps, thinly sliced; 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce; drizzle of Chinese cooking wine; half a head of cabbage, thinly sliced or sliced to bite-size; a few small sheets of roasted/toasted seaweed, tear to smaller pieces; salt and white pepper to taste; about 2 servings of cooked noodles (noodles par-boiled to rid them of "oil", see above Note2)

Directions: In a heated oiled pan, add in garlic and ginger and fry till fragrant. Add in ground chicken, breaking into smaller bits while frying briskly in the pan, add dark soy sauce at the same time and drizzle some Chinese cooking wine around the edge of the pan while frying the ground chicken bits. Then add mushrooms and cabbage and mix well with the chicken. Add 1 cup of water, cover the pan and allow the cabbage to simmer to slight tenderness for about 10 minutes. When the cabbage turned tender, add in the seaweed pieces, mix well with mixture, and finally salt and white pepper to taste. With the remaining gravy, add in cooked noodles into the cabbage mixture, stir and toss thoroughly for noodles to absorb all the gravy and flavor.

Note3 (Ingredients):
The roasted/toasted seaweed sheets used here are from snack packs. So, if you find yourself or your kids snacking those, these snacking seaweed can add flavor to stir-fry noodles. Seaweed contains mineral macro- and micro- nutrients (e.g. calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, zinc, copper, selenium) and vitamins. We usually make Seaweed Soup with seaweed.

Cabbage is naturally sweet tasting, high in Vitamin K and C, and contains phyto-nutrients much needed in our body. Not forgetting shitake mushrooms which contain iron and active compound - lentinan, for our immnue system. I use fresh shitake mushrooms here as I find they sufficiently pack the earthy flavors I wanted in such stir-fry noodles. You can opt to use dried shitake mushrooms (re-hydrate before using). The savoriness and unami in dried shitake mushrooms are much stronger than fresh ones.

I gathered many of you are doing without oyster sauce in their stir-fries. This noodle dish is basically done without "extra" sauce ingredient again. The bathing sauce for the noodles is the liquid infusion of cabbage, mushrooms, seaweed, garlic, ginger, sea salt and white pepper. It spells delicious to me. The scumptious noodles is going to Presto Pasta Nights hosted, back with original PPN creator, Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. I will be waiting for the delicious round-up on May 7th.

How often do you do grocery shopping? What is your take on using instant noodle "cakes" for stir-fry noodles?

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