Do you have someone in your life that doesn't like something and you are convinced you can make them think otherwise? If you have read this blog, you know my dear husband Randy doesn't like beets which kills me because I love them. Every time I make them or order them in a restaurant, I make him try one. There is some evidence that supports the fact that your tastes do change and that you should try "dislikes" periodically to see if that has indeed happened. (At least, that is what I tell Randy.) He tried one last Friday night and swallowed it with great difficulty.
My brother Alex, who eats just about everything, does not like mushrooms or artichoke hearts. But that list used to include olives and about 10 years ago, he had a Eureka! moment and discovered that he loved olives. So there is hope for mushrooms and artichoke hearts. And beets for Randy.
My client Mark told me he doesn't like Asian food. Now, this is a little trickier than beets because it encompasses an entire continent. When asked to clarify, he said he doesn't like stir-fries. What does that mean exactly? I will need to do some further investigation. I have been steering away from Asian food since his confession but the truth is, I really miss it. Put me on a desert island and my first choice would be french fries. My second choice would be rice noodles with lots of tofu with, perhaps, a Thai curry sauce.
So, last night I decided enough was enough and made something I thought would be perhaps pass muster with him. I made Baked Spring Rolls with a Soy Dipping Sauce, Spinach Salad with Asian Pears and a Peanut Dressing and Soba Noodles with Tofu and Bok Choy. Nothing was stir-fried. No wok was used in the cooking of this food.
The noodle dish is the kind of thing I crave, nice and savory with lots of interesting flavors going on - lots of ginger and spice. The balance of starch (from the soba) protein, and green vegetable is very satisfying. Even so, as I was eating it last night I said to Randy, "Mark is going to hate this."
Notes on ingredients: You should be able to find everything you don't already have easily in the Asian section of your grocery store. Rice vinegar is sometimes kept in the aisle with the other oils and vinegars. Soba Noodles always surprise me with how much you get out of them. They usually come in 8.8 ounce packages. Buy two for this recipe and just know that you will probably have some noodles left over. Trader Joe's has great extra-firm tofu in 1 lb. packages. And lastly, I almost always use tamari soy sauce but in this recipe, because there is so much used, I chose the low-sodium and that was the right decision.
Soba Noodles with Tofu and Bok Choy
I very very loosely adapted this recipe from Cooking Light.
1 lb. soba noodles
1 lb. extra firm tofu
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. grated ginger
2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 heads baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add salt and soba noodles and cook until just al dente, 4-6 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.
Mix the mirin, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, red pepper flakes, and garlic together in a bowl with a whisk.
Cut the tofu crosswise into four pieces. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and just enough soy mixture to come half-wat up the sides of the tofu (dont' use all of it). Bring to a gentle boil and cook 4 minutes. Turn the tofu over and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Place the bok choy halves in the same pan and pour in some more of the soy mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. (You may have to do this in batches.)
To serve: Place a tangle of soba noodles on a plate and top with tofu and bok choy. If you have leftover sauce, you can pour this over the noodles. If not, just give them a little shake of soy sauce.