Monday, January 9, 2012

Udon Noodles and Breakfast

Breakfast is unquestionably my favorite meal of the day. For months now I've been stuck (in a good way) on the same breakfast--even on weekends when I have more time--but today I changed it up from my usual sandwich thin with almond butter and strawberries.

my typical breakfast
Yesterday I tried out FitMama's udon noodle recipe (which uses almond butter in the sauce) and I brought leftovers for lunch so I figured one serving of nut butter today is enough. Instead I made a quick meal of thin french toast (french toast made with sandwich thins--think instant portion control) and it was nice to start my morning with an old favorite.

The udon noodle recipe, however, definitely counts as a new experience. I don't cook much Asian food and I've never in my life used fresh ginger or udon noodles, but that's what this blog is all about--trying new things. I had to look at the ginger root for a minute before some long-forgotten memory (or possibly common sense?) kicked in and I pulled out my vegetable peeler to peel off the skin before taking the microplane grater to it. There was a ton of ginger root left over so I Googled how to store it and burst out laughing when I came across this tip from a woman who "used to tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, but then one day while pregnant with [her son] and HIGHLY emotional...felt sorry for the ginger suffocating in the wrap and started crying." Too funny.

While I enjoyed the noodles (enough to eat the leftovers, obviously) I was surprised by the flavor composition of the sauce. Nearly half of it was honey almond butter, but it wasn't really sweet like I expected it to be. The almond sauce in this recipe is a twist on peanut sauce; my only memory of peanut sauce is an overpowering sweetness that I didn't care for 7 years ago and have avoided ever since. This was very different, and not just because it was almond sauce instead of peanut sauce. The ginger overpowered most of the sweetness in the nut butter making it a little sweet with more spiciness; it was a very unexpected flavor combination.

I still haven't gotten up the courage to tackle tofu in the kitchen so I decided I'd use some shrimp instead, but the shrimp in my freezer had apparently been there for a while and looked...less than appetizing. So Gardein protein was my only readily-available option and it actually turned out pretty well. I'm not a recipe purist. I think you should stick to it in a general way, but if the recipe calls for peanut butter and you only have almond butter or the main protein is supposed to be chicken but you prefer shrimp, I say go for it. You're the one eating it so make it your own. I definitely do.

This recipe was really good and using the wok was pretty easy so I'm thinking about a seafood and vegetable stir fry for next week.

Udon Noodles with Almond Sauce and Tofu

Adapted from a recipe at FitMamaEats (the ingredients are mostly the same but I changed the directions based on my experience)


  • 1/2 cup skim milk (1% or 2% is fine is that's what's already in your fridge)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (I used honey almond butter, again because it was on-hand)
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 T lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 c broccoli, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 Gardein scallopini "filets"
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 6 oz dry udon noodles (The only place I could find these was World Market)
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 2 T chopped almonds, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook Gardein scallopini filets for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  2. While the scallopini cooks, combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl (large enough to hold 12 oz of liquid) and mix with a fork or whisk until everything is incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Chop all the vegetables and the scallopini filets into bite-sized pieces. 
  4. Put a large pot of water on to boil and heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat in a large wok or nonstick skillet for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli, carrots, scallions and protein to wok and stir-fry until lightly cooked but still crisp, about 5 minutes. As soon as the vegetables start to cook, add the udon noodles to boiling water and cook according to package directions (about 4 minutes). When vegetables are cooked but still crisp, turn heat on wok down to low, drain udon noodles and add to wok.
  6. Pour sauce over noodles and toss to combine, making sure noodles are thoroughly coated. Plate noodles and sprinkle with 1/2 t sliced almonds on each serving.

Update: I actually enjoyed this meal even more the second time. Maybe sitting in the fridge overnight let the flavors marry a bit more? It tasted more cohesive as a whole dish. Whatever the difference, it was ridiculously good. I'll definitely be making this recipe again soon.

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