Yes, that title is a mouthful, but it’s the most accurate thing I could think of. And clearly “accuracy” is so important in my “a little bit of this”, “a little bit of that” kind of cooking. ANYWAY, this was probably one of the best dishes I’ve created this year, so get excited. AND it’s vegan. AND if you use rice noodles instead (and are of course careful about the sauce thing), it could be vegan and gluten free… what??? And still delicious? Even good for lunch the next day? How can it be? Magic. Or tea-infused grains. Or both perhaps.
So, What you need:
- Soba noodles (or any other noodles you want to use in your asian fusion made up dish)
- 3+ tea bags (I used Lemon-ginger… which made the noodles taste more like ginger than lemon, but try whatever kind you like! Orange tea or green ginger tea would also be really tasty. Use whatever teas you don’t want to drink!)
- Lettuce and other crunchy raw veggies (for the salad base! Cabbage would work too. I used romaine and cucumbers)
- Vegetables of all kinds for stir frying (mushrooms, carrots, peppers, onions, jalapeno, celery, snap peas, broccoli etc)
- A lime (or 1/2 a lime… if you have one of those around)
- Olive Oil and/or sesame oil (sesame oil adds some flavor but isn’t necessary)
- Minced garlic
- Soy sauce and/or your favorite asian themed sauce (I used literally something named ‘stir fry sauce’… very high class. One day I’ll write about how to make a sauce… but not today)
- Sneaky optional ingredients if you have them: worcestershire sauce (used it), cilantro (didn’t have any on hand), ground ginger (just a sprinkle)
Ok, you’re ready.
Step 1: Make the Tea-Infused Noodles
Boil water like you normally would for making the noodles you’ve chosen. I selected soba noodles (made from buckwheat) because they’re delicious, quick cooking, and have a great texture. But you could certainly use another type of noodle if you liked. Heck, you could probably even use run of the mill spaghetti and make it work here. If you go with a rice noodle, this can be made gluten free friendly, which is always a bonus.
Add the tea bags to the water when it reaches a boil, and wait at least 2 minutes. You want the water to all be pretty tea-flavored. Then toss in the noodles. Leave the tea bags in while the noodles cook.
Cook these until they’re done (according to the directions) and then strain. Give them a light rinse in cold water, and set them aside. I put the soba noodles in a bowl (rinsed and strained) with the 3 steeped tea bags under them just in case more tea flavor would seep out. May not have done anything, but who knows. That’s what I thought made the most sense at the time for whatever reason.
Step 2: Chop all of the Veggies
You heard me. Get to it. Lettuce and crunchy veggie salad base? Chop and get on a plate. Stir fry veggies? Chop into bite sized bits. You know the drill. This takes awhile but is totally worth it to have a variety of veggies on your plate. No one wants 2 veggie stir fry – snore. A little bit of everything you have in the fridge or freezer is the way to go.
I also highly recommend the jalapeno. Deseeded and chopped up, 1/2 a jalapeno is perfect in this dish. The ginger noodles can be a little sweet so this is wonderful with that.
Step 3: Plate the Crunchy Veggies
And maybe the noodles too… you want to be ready when your stir fry is done. So get that chopped lettuce, and maybe cabbage or cukes ready to go.
Step 4: Stir fry the Veggies
Using a wok or your trusty cast iron (obviously what I used) you want to stir fry the veggies. You can start with medium to medium high heat, your oil, minced garlic and harder veggies like carrots and celery and perhaps onions and peppers. After these have a few minutes to get ahead in the cooking, toss in your sliced mushrooms and jalapenos. Let those stir fry up. Then toss in the softer veggies you want to steam a little, broccoli and snap peas in this case. You may want to cover these for short periods of time, just 30 or 45 seconds at a time. Due to the high heat some veggies will get a little lovely char to them, while the softer veggies should steam to a cooked yet still with a little crunch which is great for this salad.
DO NOT overcook your veggies. When in doubt, undercook. Mushy veggies on soft noodles on lettuce isn’t very appealing. When you think you have about a minute left, add your sauces & any additional spices (a splash of soy sauce, splash of worcestershire, and as much of your stir fry sauce of choice as you wish, small pinch of ground ginger or perhaps pinch of cayenne if you didn’t have the jalapeno but like it spicy) to the pan and toss everything around. Again, careful about that overcooking thing. When it’s done, pull it off of heat and plate.
Step 5: Plate
Pile the noodles on the lettuce etc. if you haven’t already (don’t go overboard, with all those veggies you don’t want too many noodles on one plate, trust me). Then scoop stir fry veggies on top. Garnish with a lime slice or two and a few sprigs of cilantro (or just squeeze the lime on and toss on a few sprinkles of chopped cilantro on top if you’re not trying to impress anyone with your presentation and just want to eat your dinner like a normal person)
Enjoy! The tea-infused noodles really add flavor to this dish, so there’s no need for extra sauce or seasoning for the lettuce etc which is great if you’re trying to watch your diet. Sauces can be cruel in regards to sugar and sodium. But tea? Tea is as low cal as it gets for flavoring and was remarkably tasty. I was pretty impressed myself. This also made a wonderful lunch the next day. I put the stir fry on the bottom, then lettuce then noodles (to keep everything from getting too soggy) and then heated it up a little and stirred it up at work. It’d also be good just cold, but was really a treat at room temp/slightly warm too. VERY filling, hearty, healthy and made my week. Try it and let me know what you think!