Tofu Stir-Fry with Baby Bok Choy, Bell Peppers, and Korean Noodles

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I finally made it to Fubonn this week, and got a few things that have been lingering on my shopping list for months now (brown basmati rice, Tom Kah soup paste, rice vinegar), and of course a bunch of other things that I can’t help but throw in the cart when I’m there.  I can’t attest to their quantity or organic status at all, but Fubon has the absolute cheapest veggies I’ve ever seen — actual good quality Asian veggies like baby bok choy, not the sad looking tufts of greens that call themselves bok choy at regular grocery stores.  Nope, at Fubonn you can get a gigantic bag of about 12 of them for $1.64, and a package of oyster mushrooms that looks like this, for less than five bucks:


So last night when Jesse texted me on my bike ride home, already 7:15 and saying he was just getting home from work as well and can we do something easy for dinner, I knew it was a stir fry kinda night.

I had a package of tofu sitting in the fridge, which was just the ticket because it’s been a very meat-heavy week, between leftover pork shoulder roast, and barbecued chicken drumsticks.  So right when I got home, while I gathered and assembled all the veggies I’d be using, I quickly cubed up the brick of tofu, melted some coconut oil and black bean paste in the skillet, and started frying it up.


I like to cook my tofu for a long time over medium heat, kind of like caramelizing onions.  It drives me crazy when tofu is all soft and crumbly and falling apart — I want it firm and crispy and tough on the outside, but without having to deep fry it.  The key is cooking it in a reasonable amount of oil, with a little bit of salt sprinkled on top to draw out the water, for nearly half an hour, but on a low enough heat so that it doesn’t burn.  Canola oil works better than olive oil for making it nice and crispy, but coconut oil is way healthier and works just as well.


Meanwhile, I took each little bundle of bok choy and separated it — sliced off the closed end so that the leaves would all separate, and then sliced between the stalk and the leaves.  The stalk takes about as long to cook as cabbage, so I wanted to give it a good ten minutes by itself in the wok before the softer ingredients got added, whereas the leaves go in at the very end, so that they wilt and cook just a little bit.

Here’s everybody waiting for the wok to heat up.


I got a pot of water boiling, and cooked a third of a bag of these Korean noodles (they only take about five minutes), setting them aside to cool.  Why Korean noodles you ask?  Well first of all, I love their texture — they are thin and super stretchy, like nearly unbreakably stretchy, and get all glassy once they’re cooked, absorbing the sauce better than rice noodles, in my opinion.  And the best part?  They’re made from sweet potato starch rather than wheat, so they’re totally gluten free!


This may be a thing for the next little while…I’ve been trying to be gluten-avoidant for the past six months or so, but really only half-heartedly.  I decided this week that I’m going to give it a more serious go — not in any sort of Celiac or nit-picky way…I’ll probably still use regular flour to thicken sauces and all that, but I’m going to forego the obvious culprits like straight up wheat pasta.

So, back to the wok.  I started stir-frying the mushrooms and bok choy stalks until they were soft, then added the bell peppers.

As for sauce, we had picked this up earlier this week during a Trader Joe’s frenzy.


I dipped a finger in to try it and wasn’t crazy about it — it was super sweet and smelled more like barbecue sauce than an Asian stir-fry, so I just started with a few tablespoons as a base, then doctored everything up with soy sauce and a bit of fish sauce.  I should have added chili paste in at the point, too, but I overlooked it and ended up stirring it in to my own personal plate, which still worked.

At the very end, I added the noodles that had been cooling until they had been coated with the sauce, chopped up some cilantro for garnish, and served it up!


This Week’s Groceries

Safeway 1/2

  • Apple cider: $3.39
  • Pork shoulder roast: $9.11
  • Chicken breast tenders: $7.52
  • Gala apples: $2.74
  • White onions: $0.62
  • Collard greens: $1.99

TOTAL: $25.37



Trader Joe’s 1/6

  • Half and half: $1.89
  • Hummus: $3.99
  • Olive tapenade: $2.99
  • Sumatra coffee: $5.99
  • French roast coffee: $5.99
  • Asiago cheese: $3.65
  • Crumbled feta: $2.79
  • Gingerbread coffee: $7.99
  • Horseradish: $1.99
  • Pizza dough: $1.29
  • Dynamo juice: $3.99
  • Olive oil: $5.49
  • Pizza sauce: $1.99
  • General Tsao’s cooking sauce: $2.79
  • Seaweed salad: $2.99
  • Biryani rice stir fry: $2.29
  • Frozen cauliflower & romanesco: $2.99
  • Maui beef ribs: $7.61
  • Lemongrass chicken Thai sticks: $3.29
  • Fish nuggets: $3.99
  • Peanut butter pretzels: $3.79
  • Chicken shu mai: $2.99
  • Tricolor radiatore pasta: $1.99
  • Mushroom ravioli with truffle sauce: $3.49
  • Malabari paratha bread: $1.69

TOTAL: $89.93



Safeway 1/9

  • Corn tortillas: $2.39
  • Eggs: $2.59
  • Chicken drumsticks: $7.85 — which we smothered in an amazing rub/marinade during an impromptu grilling party at our house for a friend’s birthday on Wednesday night
  • Ninkasi oatmeal stout: $8.27


TOTAL: $21.10


Tofu Broccoli Yakisoba

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This is one of those weeks where there needs to be a variety of ready-to-eat food at the forefront of my fridge, so I don’t have to even make any food choices once my Monday/Tuesday is over and my work week begins.  

Not only am I still making up for having taken last weekend off to go up to Seattle for a family weekend, but I had Knit Night after work last night until 9:30, am teaching a Continental Knitting class after work tonight, and am manning the shop all on my own this weekend while my employee is out of town (which means getting there early and staying late so I can still get all my work done while juggling customers).

Plus, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying out Crossfit, which I bought a Groupon for last fall that’s about to expire.  Crossfit actually takes the least amount of elapsed time than any workout I’ve ever pursued, so this shouldn’t be such a hardship on my schedule, but just adds another element of advanced planning, given that I bike to work and everything I have to carry for a workout is now just additional weight to juggle on my ride along with whatever food and layers I’m bringing with me for the day.  Sometimes when I leave the house I feel like I should be sporting a frame pack and heading out into the woods for all the supplies I have packed on hand.

BTW, the outcome of dabbling in Crossfit is that it’s had the unintended (and ironic) consequence of making me want to join a gym.  More on that later.

So as a result, my lunches this week feature hard boiled eggs (on bagels left over from family weekend) and soft cheeses, a tofu broccoli yakisoba, a chickpea salad, and a huge pot of the easiest and yummiest soup ever — this time adding little slices of sweet apple chicken sausage.

Also, given that this past weekend was also a faux birthday celebration, I got to bring this home with me, for a little afternoon treat before this week’s classes (or dessert to eat in bed while I watch Parks & Recreation before passing out from exhaustion, whichever the case may be).


Key lime pie from The Hardware Store on Vashon Island

I also treated myself to this, which I will chop up and bring to work in Tupperwares once it ripens.  


I usually stick to a pretty strict rule of “my produce can only come from the west coast corridor,” but make an exception for tropical fruits.  It’s one thing to buy bagged spinach from Mexico when you can grow it bountifully in your own back yard; it’s another to appreciate an explosively delicious fruit that could never make it through the New Seasons door without transport.  I’m not wholeheartedly against commercial transport, I just like to keep it logical.

So, for the winning trifecta of volume + protein + veggies, I whipped up a quick and easy yakisoba.

A chopped brick of tofu, browned in the wok with salt to draw out the liquid, and a little bit of vegetable oil…


a huge head of broccoli sauteed in coconut oil…


and some Chinese egg noodles (not technically soba, but I was craving the ramen-like texture of these for some reason).  I tossed this all with a simple dressing of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sweet chili sauce, topped with some sesame seeds, and finish it off with Sriracha whenever I’m ready to eat it.  Delicious hot or cold.


Oh, totally unrelated, but you know when you buy beans in bulk and bring them home to fill a jar you randomly grab from the shelf, and then sometimes the bag you’ve randomly filled with whatever amount of beans fills that jar just perfectly to the top?


Yeah, it’s like the universe is in order.

On to this week’s groceries…

New Seasons 3/20
split peas: $2.38
1 brick firm tofu: $1.99
dozen eggs: $2.89
pint whipping cream: $3.69 — for making butter next week
bunch of kale: $2.49
1 pineapple: $3.78
celery stalk: $0.92
head of broccoli: $2.71
large sweet potato: $2.20
grapefruit: $1.97
bunch of parsley: $1.49
sharp cheddar cheese: $2.05
TOTAL: $28.56
REMAINING FOR THE MONTH: -$0.48 — bummer!  Half a dollar over for the month.  Okay, I can live with that.  I came out $7 ahead in February, so let’s see if I can make it on just $6.50 worth of veggies next week to last me through the rest of the month!

How did the rest of my Project: Food Budget-ers do?

Tofu Yellow Curry and Brown Rice

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Ideally, I like to take one of my two days off each week and cook up a big meal of something, whether it’s a hearty soup, a casserole, a big pasta salad — something that will yield 3-4 meals worth of food, that I can bring to work all week as lunches or dinners so I don’t have to think too hard about how to feed myself that day as I’m inevitably rushing to get ready to go to work each morning.

One of my favorite versions of this is the big curry, with a huge pot of brown rice on the side.  It’s hearty, it’s healthy, it uses up lots of veggies, it takes like five minutes of prep work, only gets two dishes dirty, packs easily into Tupperwares and can be reheated in my makeshift double-boiler system at work (i.e. putting the meal into a big mug and putting it in my electric tea kettle after I’ve boiled a batch of water and then unplugged it.  It works remarkably well).

So that’s what happened this week.  For the brown rice, I usually make a big batch (1.5 cups dry brown basmati — this yields a ton of rice).  This gets thrown into a pot with double the amount of water, a few spoonfuls of coconut oil, and some salt.  Once this combination begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer it with the lid on for about 40 minutes or until it’s done.

And the curry?  Super simple.  I started by chopping a whole white onion and a brick of tofu, and sauteeing these together in a bit of canola oil.

Then, the base veggies.  Tonight, some carrots and celery, and though fresh mushrooms would have been better, I have this stash of dried shitake mushrooms from my big stock-up trips to Fubonn so I went with those as a substitute, breaking them up with my fingers as I threw them in.

All I added here besides the veggies was a few inches of water, a can of coconut milk, and my favorite curry paste — tonight was yellow, but I have a whole stash of these on hand, ranging from green to red to panang.  These massive tubs are like $3 each at Fubonn, and all you need is a few spoonfuls!

I kept this at a low boil for about 45 minutes, and then added the more delicate veggies at the end: spinach, a couple fresh tomatoes, and parsley.

Salt to taste, stir in some Sriracha if you like the spice, and spoon it over the rice and you have a healthy, hearty meal that I seriously can’t get sick of, even after day 4 of this week.