Thursday, May 28, 2009

Caribbean-inspired Thai Noodles with Tempeh

As I was working out today, I was a little preoccupied with what I would prepare for dinner. We haven't done a proper grocery shopping since returning from the long weekend, and I knew I was low on produce. As I was discussing in Tuesday's blog entry, I loved the Caribbean-inspired pasta that we had at Nine Mile in Asheville, and was also thinking about that so-tasty pasta as I was exercising.

I want to try to make something like we had at that restaurant and use perhaps a thin angel hair pasta. But for tonight, I was inspired by that meal but in the direction of cooking down a sauce primarily of coconut milk and cooking Thai rice noodles in the sauce.

I poured a can (13.5 ounces) of fat-reduced organic coconut milk into a large sauce pan and mixed in the third of a bottle (about 5 ounces out of around 15 ounces) that I had left of Rao's marinara sauce, as well as two finely chopped cloves (not full bulbs!) of garlic. I brought the mixture to a near boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

About ten minutes later, I added half a package of tempeh, cut into small cubes (the exact size isn't important; with frequent stirring and heat, the tempeh broke down into a crumble); about a half dozen basil leaves (I kept small leaves intact and roughly hand-cut large ones in half), and half a teaspoonful or so of tiny Greek oregano leaves (I still don't know if this plant a restaurant-owner gave me is Greek oregano, as he claims, or lemon sage, as it tastes like).

After a total of about thirty minutes, the sauce was reduced a bit and somewhat thickened. I mixed in a little crushed red pepper (for heat; were it not for my wife's nursing, I would have cooked a Thai chili pepper into the sauce - provided that I had such a pepper in house!) and salt, then added enough fettucine style flattened rice noodles to serve the two of us.

The sauce quickly thickened around the noodles; in fact, perhaps too quickly. I simmered for about five minutes then turned the heat off and left the contents in the pan for another five minutes or so, stirring a few times. The noodles were just barely al dente and were good, but next time I think I would start by soaking the noodles in hot tap water for 5-10 minutes before adding to the sauce. I mixed in a half dozen drops of lime juice and served.

I think the meal was good and was a bit reminiscent of the restaurant dish. It could have used a little more pop (hot pepper, perhaps some lemongrass and/or onion), but was interesting and tasty. I finished off the meal with a tablespoonful of so-tasty vegan (of course!) coconut milk-based custard that we brought home from Rosetta's Kitchen.


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