Musical pairing – Just A Kiss by Lady Antebellum
When Debra and I first met, we spent a lot of time together; we immediately found common interests in music, travel, movies and food. And having lived here all my life, I played tour guide and showed Debra parts of Indiana that she would have never seen . . . because she is directionally-challenged . . . a fact she completely owns up to and will tell you that any way she is facing is North . . . case and point? For nearly 6 months she traveled one single straight stretch of highway to and from work and the same road to and from the grocery store . . . that was about it – no exploring, no sight-seeing, no wandering Indiana . . . for fear she would get lost never to be found again . . .
It’s also been mentioned that we never called these excursions “dates” because of the expectation and formality that came with the word; we just enjoyed sharing each other’s company and were both at a time in our lives when the independence felt nice.
As fate would have it, a series of events unfolded over time that made our “sharing” a bit more serious, and the infamous Valentine’s Day came around; by now we had even said the “L-word” and shared our first kiss. One night I made Debra my favorite vegetarian stir-fry at her apartment; I was a strict vegetarian at the time (she, a meat-eater). I can’t recall exactly what conversation ensued after dinner but it ended in another kiss . . . maybe there is a magical moment when two people’s trust for each other line up perfectly and their souls touch for the first time, I’m not quite sure . . . but somehow this kiss was different. Debra broke down and sobbed uncontrollably, and at first I thought I had done something wrong. But in that instant, I think we both knew life would never be the same; we were married less than two weeks later.
Those memories come flooding back whenever I make stir-fry; this particular version was inspired after we went to a great Thai restaurant in Indianapolis called Siam Square. I must say that this dish rivals that of their famous Drunken Noodles – and when you look at the reviews people leave on Yelp, Drunken Noodles is the dish most often mentioned as a fan favorite. The sake is a rice-based fermented beer-like beverage (dry white wine could be substituted as well) and really makes a difference. And, baking the tofu gives it a great texture and flavor for the tofu-hesitant out there.
We hope you enjoy this dish – obviously, it’s one of our favorites!
THE PROFESSOR’S DRUNKEN NOODLES
Inspired by Moosewood Classics
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ pound soba noodles
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 3 cups baby bok choy, chopped
- 1 16 ounce, packaged extra-firm tofu, cubed, baked and set aside (recipe follows)
- ¼ cup water
- ½ cup sake
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- In a large covered pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch and the lemon juice until smooth and then set aside.
- When the water boils, add the soba noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes, until al dente.
- While the noodles cook, warm the oil in a wok or heavy skillet on medium heat.
- Add the garlic and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, just until the garlic turns golden, a minute or less.
- Stir in the bok choy, water and sake.
- Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, until bok choy is tender, yet still has a bit of crunch.
- Stir in the julienned carrots, the baked tofu cubes and the reserved soy mixture
- Cook for a minute or two until the liquid thickens, then reduce the heat to low
- When the noodles are done, drain, rinse them with warm water and drain again.
- Add the cooked soba noodles to the vegetables and stir until they are coated with the sauce.
- Place on a platter and serve immediately.
BAKED TOFU CUBES
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- If you can’t purchase pre-cubed extra firm tofu, simply cut the tofu into about half- or 1-inch cubes, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat.
- Place cubes onto a sheet pan lined with parchment (or foil) and bake for 20 minutes turning cubes at about the 10-minute mark. Cubes should be golden brown.