"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." – Albert from Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell C. Hoban
“Cooking off your refrigerator door” is a common theme in my house. Don’t buy the food for the recipe, make the recipe according to what you have, probably doing a lot of adaptation. My mom used to talk about writing a cookbook about this style of cooking.
As I’ve been living on my own for the past month, my resources are a little limited. I don’t really have the same ingredients in stock as I would if it were truly a place I was living long term, so I do buy things per recipe. My “fridge door” is availability, I can’t always the item I’m looking for, and price. 🙂
Anyway, I decided I wanted to make curry this weekend, or something Thai. I also had noodles. I also had broccoli. A bit of searching foundthis lovely recipe, for Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu. Unfortunately, it called for a few items I didn’t have, so I dashed off to town for a quick shop in the local food store.
I wanted to add a few more vegetables, I used onion instead of shallot, the sweet potato just looked good to me and I totally improvised the spices. The sugar from the original recipe can be added, I just forgot about it. I was cooking on one electric burner (all of the others were smoking and unhappy), so I was a bit rushed.
Disclaimer: Coconut milk and tofu are comparatively expensive, but I decided I would use the money I save by not buying curry paste.
Poor Man’s Curried Noodles with Vegetables and Tofu – serves 6-8
Olive oil, or any other kind of cooking oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
Dash of Chili Powder
A healthy pinch of Cayenne pepper
Pinch of Salt
A few grinds of Black Pepper
Pinch of Cumin Seed
1 tsp. Curry Powder
Dash of Oregano
Crushed Bay Leaves
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 15 oz. (450 ml) can of Coconut Milk – I used full fat, not lite, which has a hardened layer of oil and cream on top
3/4 cup water
1 medium sweet potato, cut into small pieces
a hunk of fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped – I think I used a tablespoon or two, about the size of a large olive
2 red peppers, chopped
A block of tofu, drained and cubed – should be on the firmer side
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 box of regular noodles – I used spagetti
Pinch of salt
~5 cups broccoli florets – I have no idea how much I used, whatever looks like a good amount
In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onion for about 2 minutes.
Stir in the chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, cumin seed, curry powder, oregano, crushed bay leaves and chopped garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the coconut milk, water, ginger and sweet potato and bring to a simmer. A minute or two later, add the red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the tofu and cook for another 10 minutes. Make sure the sweet potato is soft. Turn off, add lemon juice and check for salt, pepper or other seasonings.
On the side, either before or after making the curry, cook the pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions.
Add broccoli to pot for last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain, and combine with tofu-curry mixture, mixing well. If made in advance or stored separately, toss some olive oil through the pasta to prevent sticking.
Serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro, or something fun like that.