Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yam and Tofu Noodles-How are they? Good, easy and not scary like some people say!

Started a discussion last week by posting an article about yam/tofu “noodles”: No wheat and 20 calories per 8 oz. package. Over the weekend I went to Uwajimaya in Bellevue and asked for them, once I was directed to the cooler that holds them, I realized I had been passing by them for years and never took notice.
I bought 3 packages; two were the Shirataki (tofu) brand and one a different brand clear pack, green lettering (yam flour). Both brands are produced in California. The Shirataki brand come as angel hair or “fettuccini”, the third pack was angel hair-like.
I had read that they have an off taste, almost fishy and smell fishy upon opening and should be blanched before using. First off, when I cut open the packages, I didn’t smell any strong aroma. I did smell a slightly vegetal sent, sure not fishy. I had put a large pot of water to boil and strained the packages, and then dipped the strainer into the boiling water, just to be safe. After a minute when the water boiled again, the noodles become a little rigid and are ready to be taken out. Lift the strainer out and drain over the sink.
This is the time of year I really crave clean Asian flavors, so I have lots of ingredients at hand.
I prepared a stir fry, brothy, shrimp vegetable sauce as a vehicle for these noodles. Once I blanched them, a step I might skip next time, they only needed warming up and no real cooking time.
I bought a pound of head on wild Mexican shell on shrimp at Uwajimaya as well. I made some shrimp stock, rinsing, pealing and heading the shrimp. Into to a medium sized pan add water ¾ of the way up.

Into the water I put:

shrimp shells & heads
2 tablespoons Knorr Powered Shrimp stock, you could use their shrimp cubes as well
¼ white onion
celery stalk
3 inches of lemon grass stalk, cut into small rings
I star anise clove
2 pieces of orange peal

Cook this until the vegetables become soft and you have a lovely shrimp stock

Meanwhile I cut up and got together the following:

2 carrots
5 shitake mushrooms
hand full of pea pods, trimed and cut lengthwise
3 fennel stalks (I happened to have these around, you can replace with celery)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon, stir fry sauce (next time I might leave this out, I actually thought my broth and aromatics tasted complex and fresher without it)
1/2 teaspoon Asian hot sauce
1 minced green onion
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 lime leaves (I keep them in the freezer, at the ready)

Heat up a wok, add oil:
Then carrots, fennel, stir and let get medium soft. Add ginger, peapods and mushrooms stir, add a couple of cups of the broth, add the noodles and stir gently. Add shrimp and stir briefly until they turn from transparent to light pink. Add more stock to give you as much as you like, it can be soupy or less so. Add green onion, stir one last time.
Serve in big soup bowls, with extra hot sauce for those who need it.
Wondie, who was very skeptical, to say the least, loved the whole mess. He had originally wondered why we just didn’t eat regular noodles/pasta or rice noodles, which these really resemble. But, the 20 calories per 8 oz., and pleasant almost chewy month feel, were compelling reasons to explore this option. Those who know him, know he’d eat pasta every day (if left totally unsupervised) and twice on Sunday!
I would not serve these noodles under a sauce of wild boar red sauce or meat balls in red sauce. The delicate, pasty nature of the noodles makes them perfect partners for an Asian flavor profile and soupy, brothy dishes.
I should mention that 8oz. packets are anywhere from $1.09-$1.69 at Uwajimaya. I say green light, for those who are curious.

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