Monday, March 30, 2015

Shrimp and Broccoli Lo Mein

Oh, hello Monday

I can't believe we are at the start of another week. I can't believe it's the end of March already. 2015 is, in my opinion, flying by. I'm behind on my reading, my running, you name it, I'm behind on it. Between the avalanches of snow we've received in our area, the inexplicable customer service nightmare that was getting a new transmission for my car, and this unpleasant tweak to my back, I've never gotten back to my routine post-holidays. And by routine, I mean normal, consistent exercise. For the mind, as well as the body. Now that I know the vacuum is at least a trigger for my back injury, I'll be avoiding that this month. I'm hoping April will be all about getting back to normal. 

Because... just like any other girl, I like to have a good workout put in before I shove my face into a plate full of noodles. 

Noodles that are slathered with a spicy, savory sauce.

Noodles that are accompanied by tender-crisp broccoli, succulent shrimp, and aromatic onions.

Noodles that are tender to the bite and send your tastebuds to China as you satisfyingly slurp them down.

Ok, ok, so I can get a little dramatic.

But in all honesty, noodles and I are likethis. Pasta has remained a true and steadfast companion all my life. At times I have pondered whether I may have a genetic predisposition that has led to my inescapable fondness of pasta. Whatever the cause, you can rest assured I like noodles in every cuisine imaginable. 

Thai? Pad thai. Yummmm.

German? Briiiiiing on the spaetzle.

Japanese? I'll take one ramen noodle bowl, please.

And when it comes to Chinese, I'll tell you, I've sampled more than one person's fair share of chow and lo mein.

I don't know about your family, but in my family, when we went out for Chinese, we would always order family style. We would always order 4, sometimes 5, dishes. One for every person in my family, and the 5th would sometimes happen just because. But 1 dish out of the 5 was always chow mein. Always. My family loves chow mein.

See what I mean about my genetic suspicions??

You may be of the mindset that you need to go out of the home to get good Chinese food, but I'm here to tell you (for the 5,679,341st time) that you can make it at home. I know I shout this from the rooftops several times a week, but it's true! Sometimes, you'll have even better results than what you could find out in the world. I'm just sayin'... At any rate, you could substitute almost any protein for the shrimp- chicken, pork, beef, tofu, etc. You could substitute out the vegetables, and add whatever veggies you desire. If you don't like udon noodles, substitute yaki soba or even spaghetti noodles. I'm not ashamed to admit I've made this dish with spaghetti noodles in a time crunch, and I liked it. The hubby, eh, not so much. But hey, you can't win em' all.

And finally, I'll wrap up with what is quite possibly the best way to cook broccoli that I've just discovered. I'm sure you've all heard of blanching, I know it's a word that's thrown around the cooking world a lot. The gist of the technique is to throw desired vegetables into a pot of boiling water, boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then immediately submerge said produce in ice water. Submerging the vegetable in ice water rapidly stops the cooking process, locking in the bright color of the produce. For example, the broccoli in this dish. Broccoli has the tendency to turn a sad-looking brownish color. Not to mention that it's hard to get broccoli to the right texture when stir-frying. The solution is to toss the broccoli into boiling water, just until it turns bright green, and then immediately get it into ice water. The broccoli is fully cooked at this point, so you only need to warm it back up at the end of cooking. 

There you go. Easy cooking. Gorgeous color. It's a win-win!

All right, I hope y'all try this recipe, it's one of my absolute favorites :)

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 (10 oz) package udon noodles
1 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more for noodles)
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp chile sauce with garlic
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
2 heaping tsp cornstarch
garnish- sesame seeds (optional)


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, add broccoli. Boil for 1 minute, or until broccoli turns bright green. Using a slotted spoon, remove broccoli from pot to a bowl of ice water. Submerge broccoli to stop cooking. Remove from ice water, and place on a plate covered with a paper towel to dry. Set aside. Fill pot with water again, bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. When drained, toss with a bit of olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together too much. 
2. Warm 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When warm, add onions. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. 
3. Add shrimp to pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp have turned pink and start to curl inward. 
4. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce through cornstarch. Whisk to combine. Add soy mixture to pan, cook for 1 minute. Add reserved broccoli and noodles to pan. Toss to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes to heat broccoli and allow sauce to thicken. Remove from heat, serve immediately. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. 

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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