Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Springtime Udon Bowl

Springtime in Arizona feels a little different than the rest of the country because the temperature change involves the 70s, 80s, and 90s which are not typically numbers associated with this particular equinox. However, the blossoms, smells and flavors help remind us of the lovely transformation going on everywhere else. On my morning runs, I’ve been almost overwhelmed by the smell of citrus blossoms and almost injured by the rogue oranges covering the sidewalk. Spring is light, lovely, and inspirational. Most importantly it’s a sign of abundant produce starting to clutter tables at farmers markets. Time to grease up those elbows and fight your fellow hippies for that last bunch of pea tendrils!

Stir fry is a terrific way to catch seasonal flavors. It’s versatile, delicious, fast and easy to prepare. Having been out of town all weekend and unable to cook, I was itching for a stove session. I hadn’t even looked inside my produce drawer in 4 days so I had no idea what was in stock. This of course made the plane ride that much longer, because I couldn’t distract myself with dinner details… what to prepare first, how long it might take, spices I haven’t used in a while, etc. I seldom travel without concocting a recipe at some point out of boredom.

I did know one thing though: despite my eagerness to cook, my arrival time plus the transit home put me in my kitchen at about 8:45 pm and I did not want an elaborate or difficult dish. The source of this recipe was one from which most of my best meals originate and one regular readers will be familiar with – kitchen cleansing. Getting rid of the last cup of beans, the last leaves of spinach or that last handful of pasta. Taking an oddball combination and slapping a good dose of garlic on it.

Most people feel lucky to find a $5 bill in their jeans pocket, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of local chard in my refrigerator that I had totally forgotten was purchased on impulse last week. Not a typical ingredient in Asian cuisine, I thought chard would stand in nicely for bok choy. The other ingredients here could be replaced with any number of veggies typically found in stir fry: snow peas, red pepper, mushrooms, etc. But the combination I used produced such a fresh, springtime taste that I highly recommend taking some seasonal picks that wouldn’t normally end up in a stir fry and seeing how they mesh with standard stir fry flavors: garlic, ginger, soy sauce with a little sweet ‘n spicy touch. You could use rice here as well, but udon noodles are more fun to eat.

Springtime Udon Bowl
Makes: 1 serving
Cook time: 15 minutes


1-2 tsp. Sriracha
½ tsp. cornstarch
½ T. brown sugar, agave, or raw sugar
½ - ¾ T. soy sauce or tamari
¼ c. water

1 tsp. coconut oil
2 T. shallots, sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 medium celery stalk, chopped
½ c. green beans, chopped
4-5 swiss chard leaves, chopped, stems and leaves & divided
½ c. purple cabbage, chopped
Fresh cilantro

2 oz. udon noodles (about ½ ” thick stack of dry noodles)


To make the sauce, whisk first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl and make sure cornstarch is well dissolved. Set aside.

Heat a wok or skillet over medium high heat and melt coconut oil when pan is hot. Reduce heat to medium and add shallots, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry for about 30 seconds or until fragrant and add celery, green beans and chard stems. Cook for 3-4 minutes until vegetables become translucent, adding 2 tablespoons of water (or sake or mirin if you have it) at a time if pan becomes too dry. Increase heat back to medium high and add chard leaves and cabbage and cook until chard begins to wilt, 2-3 minutes. Finally add stir fry sauce and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the stir fry is cooking, bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Cook noodles 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and mix in with vegetables when done. Top with fresh cilantro.

1 comment:

  1. Looks so delicious!! Pita Jungle also has delicious food! Join us every Sunday for a healthy Brunch from 10:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. at the downtown Phoenix location. Try our Pita omlet and much more and I am sure you are going to love it too. You can look for the online menu on http://www.pitajungle.com/index.cfm/menu/menuType/1 . We are located in Phoenix, Scottsdale and at 12 different places in Arizona. For more details you can go through our website www.pitajungle.com