January 10th, 2011

Broccoli Curry Udon

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Serves 4

Active time: 30 minutes || Total time: 30 minutes

Some women have a ridiculous amount of shoes, but not me. I have a ridiculous amount of curry. I wouldn’t be caught dead using most spice blends, but I make an exception for curries. I love the nuances you get from country to country and even from region to region and using a premade blend saves you some space in your spice rack. (Unless, like me, you have to have 7 different kinds of curry powder.) That said, it’s worth it to mix up your own blend if you have the time and inclination. There is a definite thrill to be had from toasting and pulverizing your own seeds. In this recipe, however, you will receive no such thrill!

These noodles are inspired by the staple curry udon you can find in many Japanese-American restaurants. You can use whatever curry powder you have on hand, but I dig the distinctive notes of star anise, ginger, cinnamon and clove in S&B Oriental Curry Powder. They sell this kind in the racist ethnic aisle of most supermarkets, and in many Asian markets, but if you can’t find it then here’s a hack: add a pinch of cinnamon and ginger when you add the curry powder and throw a star anise into the sauce while it simmers. You’ll get a close approximation!

I make this recipe a lot, but probably never the same way twice. The basic idea is to saute the veggies and then make the sauce – then you mix everything together. Cooking the vegetables separately ensures that you cook them just right, never under or over cooked. You only have to use one pan and everything should be done within 30 minutes if you follow the directions. Hooray for modern science!

I boiled dry udon because it was all I had, but it’s great with big fat fresh udon, too. The recipe below is how I made it this week, but try some of these variations:

Shiitake & Red Bell Pepper (In honor of Amy)
Omit onions, use half the amount of broccoli
Saute 8 oz thinly sliced shiitakes for 5 minutes
Saute a thinly sliced red bell pepper for 5 minutes

Bok Choy
Use 2 lbs bok choy in place of the broccoli
Saute the bok choy stems for 5 minutes
Add the leaves and saute 3 minutes more

In addition to the veggies, saute diced extra firm tofu with a pinch of salt and pepper and add it to the noodles.

8 oz dry round udon noodles
Olive oil for sauteeing (I use a spray bottle of oil)
1 pound broccoli florettes (6 cups)
Medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
Big pinch red pepper flakes
2 cups vegetable broth mixed with 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup light coconut milk
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

You can also garnish with any of the following if you like:
Chopped fresh cilantro
Thinly sliced scallion or green onion
Basil chiffonade (or Thai basil if you can find it)

First boil water for the udon. Cook udon according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute broccoli in a few sprays of oil and a pinch of salt for about 7 minutes. Keep covered while cooking, lifting the lid just to stir a few times. In the meantime, prep everything else.

When broccoli is done, remove from pan and set aside. Next saute onions in a bit of oil, with a pinch of salt for about 3 minutes. You want them to retain some crunch. Remove from pan (transfer to the same bowl as broccoli to cut down on dishes). Now you’ll make the sauce in the same pan.

Saute the garlic and ginger in a little oil for about 1 minute. Mix in the red pepper flakes. Add the vegetable broth/cornstarch, the curry powder and soy sauce. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Let thicken a bit, for about 3 minutes. Mix in coconut milk and turn off the heat.

Add noodles to the pan and mix to coat. Then fold in the broccoli and onions. Divide between bowls and top with garnishes (if using) and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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