I mean, why not greet you with a big plate of this right in your face? WHY. NOT.
You guys, I know I say this a lot, but I really love this one. Noodles just speak to me. Something about all the twirling of the forks and the soakage of the sauces… it’s like we were made for each other.
This week I made a special grocery trip to a local co-op for a little something different and exciting in my life. Party! I went there instead of my local grocery store in part because I wanted to buy some trustworthy, local, good quality beef for a recipe that’s coming up in a few, but also if I’m being honest it was partially because our neighborhood chain grocery store is changing to a new chain grocery store and therefore it’s a total mess where there is pop in the produce section and the coconut milk shelves have been bare for months and it makes me cray cray.
When I was at the local co-op, I made lots of new food friends (no, literally, I mean Food that I would now consider like a new hipster friend) and among them was a very significant New Noodle Discovery: UDON.
Actually, I’ve been thinking about udon noodles for the last, um, seven months, ever since I tried thee mooost amaaazing udon noodle tempura shrimp bowl at an adorable little Japanese bistro in Minneapolis. If you live even remotely close to Minneapolis, you’ll need to check this gem out. It’s called Obento Ya. When you go, Bjork and I will be the ones sitting in the booth talking about things like The Bachelorette and WordPress plugins and Michael Scott, and eating our usuals: vegetable tempura, miso soup, the summer roll, and the sushi bento box. Hard to miss.
So when I saw udon noodles staring me down in the tiny little aisle of the local co-op, I wasted 0.0 seconds getting them in my cart and home to a boiling pot of water. And things went well.
I am so in love with this recipe on so many levels.
- It’s sneakily easy. 30 minutes, start to finish.
- Pantry ingredients. Mostly. The only exception is those udon noodles which I demand you go hunt for because they’re so good. I’ve seen them at the co-op but also at regular grocery stores now that I’ve been looking.
- Tofu. ❤ It’s kind of a new thing for us, especially tofu cooked at home. But I got brave after that honey ginger stir fry and now it’s a new thing that we love.
- This will take things in your refrigerator that you are avoiding (carrots. mushrooms. broccoli. other foods that people avoid.) and turn them into a meal that tastes amazing. You can also add meat if you must. But please see #3.
- It’s just pretty. If you make this please snap a pic and tag me on Insty/Twitter because I will get an inappropriate amount of joy out of seeing your beautiful, colorful, texture-ful food.
We are now T-2 days until Bjork and I head up to the cabbie with my family for the best two weeks of summer. Boating and sun and fresh air for days! This seems like a good time to tell you that I, uhmm, wakeboard. I know. It’s not really like me, but it’s the single cool, extreme sport thing that I have mastered. I do it ONCE every summer, even if I have to go early in the morning or on a really cold day, just to say I can still do it. Proud much? And lest you should get the wrong idea about me based on this once yearly extreme sport thing, I always almost die when I jump in the cold water, I have a paralyzing fear of sunfish biting my toes, and I make my dad drive the boat like 2 miles per hour (thumbs down! thumbs down! slower slower slower! Daaaaad!). Because what if I fall? Ouch.
We basically spend the whole two weeks outside, except for at night when we gather round to watch TV series marathons. We started our first year at the cabin with the show 24, but it quickly spiraled out of control in the way only 24 can spiral out of control, and it became way too scary and violent for my younger sibs (read: me) so we quit.
Now I will ask for your help: I would luv it if you could suggest a show that we could become obsessed with while we’re there. I just love the late nights, big bowls of popcorn, and “one more episode!” vibe that we have when we’re there. The hard thing is that the show sort of has to be family friendly (12 year old up in the house), and sometimes family friendly shows don’t have the same pull that intensely violent counter terrorism unit shows tend to have. But if you’ve got sumthin, comment plz!
Super good news: I’m going to be posting while we’re at the cabin because – joy of all joys – I’m a blogger now so I can work from anywhere! SO dreamy! and the cabin is one of my favorite places to cook and bake because there’s always a crowd to enjoy the food with, so expect yums.
But honestly, why are we still talking.
I cannot wait until you make these black pepper stir fried noodles. Just hurry up already.
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground black peppercorns
- 5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
- 1 1-inch piece ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 8 ounces udon noodles (rice noodles would also work)
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- 10 ounces extra firm tofu
- sesame seeds for topping
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook for 1-2 minutes (they should NOT be all the way cooked - just enough to barely soften). Drain and rinse with cold water - this removes starch and helps them stir fry without turning into a big blob. Set aside.
- Place all the sauce ingredients in the food processor and give it a whirl. When it's smooth, taste it and adjust to your liking. Cut the tofu into slices and press out the excess moisture several times with paper towels. Cut the tofu slices into cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet. When the oil is shiny, add the tofu. Stir fry very gently (breaks apart easily) for 5-10 minutes until deep golden brown. Add a tiny splash of black pepper sauce, a tiny splash of water, and ½ tablespoon oil and shake the pan around - everything will be all sizzly and awesome. When the tofu is cooked to your liking, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon oil in the skillet. When the oil is shiny, add the noodles and black pepper sauce. Add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too thick. Stir fry until the noodles are softened completely, covered with sauce, and piping hot. Remove from heat and toss with the spinach and tofu. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.