If you’re reading this from the United States, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that American Thanksgiving was yesterday. Honestly, if you’re Canadian I probably don’t have to tell you that. Americana permeates our border rather aggressively. No shade! I like Elvis and bourbon as much as the next person. Anyway, since a large portion of my readers are North American based, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume y’all are reading this hungover and riddled with heartburn. So, with your delicate state in mind, I devised these Jade Noodle Bowls with Soy Braised Tofu and Green Coconut Sauce to rehabilitate you. They have vegetables, remember them? I promise they’re pretty good, maybe not pie good but pretty good.
Now, given the placement of American Thanksgiving, I may be a touch premature with my restorative, light-ish dish. American Thanksgiving always falls on a Thursday, which really encourages the holiday to bleed well into the weekend. We Canadians usually indulge on a Sunday or even the holiday Monday, leaving no opportunity for week-long pie-related impropriety. But even if you’re not planning on slowing down, I have the feeling that the need for something a little more virtuous will come upon you soon. There’s nothing like the harsh reality a Monday morning can deliver.
But enough about Thanksgiving, American or otherwise. With both come and gone we can finally focus on the holiday season, which means nog, mulled wine and, erm, more pie. Yes, October to January is more or less a test to see how much pie you can handle before you crack. So, before we move on to yet another pie-heavy holiday, perhaps a spinach-infused noodle pitstop would be wise? I’m going to say yes.
Now, I’m not exactly sure where my fascination with jade noodles came from. I wasn’t even sure I knew what they were. I must’ve heard the name of the dish somewhere at some point but that where and point are lost to my memory. So, I went to Google to find out more and to my surprise, there wasn’t much to find. Most of the articles only referenced a very beloved bowl of jade noodles served at Sapp Coffee Shop in LA. From there I was able to discerned that jade noodles are a common Thai street food called Ba Mee Yok. As is so often the case, once I got the name right the Internet opened up to me.
What delights me most about Ba Mee Yok is its a choose-your-own-adventure sort of dish. The name only refers to egg noodles dyed a rich green with the help of steamed spring greens. I could not get a consensus on which particular “spring greens” to use, so I went with spinach because that’s what Sapp Coffee Shop uses and it’s always available. I would be interested in subbing out the spinach for a slightly more astringent green just to experiment. But honestly, these noodles don’t require any improvements. They were completely satisfying. Trust me, I know a good noodle when I eat one.
Now, I handled my noodles in a wholly inauthentic way. I used a pasta roller and cutter to do most of the work for me. You are, of course, welcome to roll out these noodles by hand, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. My forearms feel tired just thinking about it.
With the noodles settled, I was left with a deliciously blank canvas. When I was a kid, there was nothing I liked better than a fresh, clean sheet of paper. I’ve found I feel the same way about an unadorned noodle bowl. Go figure! Anyway, I decided to really lean into the green angle and create a Green Goddess dressing with an Asian bent. To be honest, my Green Coconut Sauce bears very little resemblance to the classic Green Goddess Dressing. Sure, they’re similar in color but that’s about it. But whatever. From there I decided to add some ultra-flavorful Soy Braised Tofu and a few choice greens. Broccolini for a whisper of bittersweet and cucumber for refreshment. The bowl was finished off with a scattering of crunchy bean sprouts and thin slices of green chilies.
Okay, so maybe the Jade Noodle Bowls aren’t *just* finished with a sprinkling of ultra-low-fat bean sprouts and metabolism-revving green chiles. There is something a little more nefarious and a whole lot more delicious afoot. Yes, I added peanuts to which I added both salt and raw sugar and coconut for good measure. Let’s be honest, I’m not a virtuous food blogger. I started this recipe off with white flour and eggs anyway. These Jade Noodle Bowls were a lost cause from the beginning. But hey, look at how green they are.
It may come as no surprise that my favorite aspect of these Jade Noodle Bowls happens to be the peanut coconut mixture on top. It is painfully good. So good, in fact, that I’m looking for excuses to use it elsewhere. I definitely foresee some peanut coconut breaded chicken tenders in my not-too-distant-future. And if you just rolled your eyes at “chicken tenders”, stop lying to yourself! You know you love chicken fingers – it’s just human nature.
So, maybe it’s not the cleanest nor the lightest recipe, but these Jade Noodle Bowls are loaded to the teeth with greens. And hey, they contain absolutely no pastry products, so they’re at least a step in the, well, I wouldn’t say right because sometimes pie is just right. So, let’s call it the light direction instead.
Jade Noodle Bowls with Braised Tofu & Green Coconut Sauce
- 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups 00 flour sifted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- Cornstarch for dusting
Green Coconut Sauce
- 1 avocado peeled and pitted
- 3 green chilies
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 1-inch knob ginger, peeled
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro tightly pack
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon demerara sugar
- 1 can coconut milk full fat
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
Soy Braised Tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu cut into triangles
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Jade Noodle Bowls
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 bunch broccolini halved lengthwise
- 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon demerara sugar
- 1 batch Jade Noodle see above
- 1 batch Soy Braised Tofu see above
- 1/2 cucumber quartered and sliced
- 1 batch Green Coconut Sauce see above
- 1 cup fresh beansprouts
- 2 green chilies thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro coarsely chopped
For the Noodles
- Place the spinach and the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil and cook, stirring continuously, until spinach is wilted. Pour the spinach mixture through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth. Retain the liquid. Gather up the cheesecloth to form a bundle and squeeze the excess moisture from the spinach into the reserved liquid.
- Transfer the spinach to a food processor and blitz until a paste forms. Set the reserved steaming liquid and the spinach puree aside.
- Whisk the salt and the flour together and pile it onto a counter in a mountain-like formation. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the eggs followed by the spinach puree and the reserved steaming liquid.
- Beat the eggs in the center, then begin pushing the dry ingredients into the wet until a loose dough forms. Using your hands, knead the excess flour into the dough until it is slightly tacky and silky to the touch. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour.
- Divide the dough into quarters. Dust each quarter with cornstarch, then roll out the dough. Using a pasta roller, roll the dough out until 1/16 of an inch thick. I rolled my dough to setting number 4 on the Kitchen Aid Pasta Attachment. From here you can either cut the sheets of dough into noodles by hand or use a spaghetti cutter - I used the Kitchen Aid attachment.
- Once cut, separate the individual noodles, then dust with additional cornstarch. Form the noodles into bundles and place them on a baking sheet dusted with cornstarch. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Green Coconut Sauce
- Place the avocado, chilies, garlic, ginger and cilantro in a large food processor and blitz until a thick, creamy paste forms.
- In a small bowl, whisk the coconut milk, fish sauce and lime juice together and set aside.
- Add the salt and sugar to the food processor and set it to low. Stream in the coconut milk mixture until a smooth dressing forms.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Tofu
- Place the tofu in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk the garlic, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, honey, and chili oil together. Pour the mixture over the tofu and let marinate for 1 hour.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until shimmering. Add the tofu to the wok and organize the pieces to form an even layer. Pour the remaining marinade over top. Let the tofu sear over medium heat undisturbed for 5 minutes. Flip each piece and repeat the previous step.
- Transfer the tofu to a plate and keep warm until ready to eat.
For the Bowls
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok until shimmering. Add the broccolini and the garlic to the wok and pour the soy sauce over top. Saute until the broccolini stems are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the broccolini to a plate and keep warm until ready to serve.
- While the broccolini is cooking, place a large pot of water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse the noodles and toss them in the sesame oil. Set aside.
- Place the peanuts, coconut, salt and sugar in a large food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Transfer the nut mixture to a bowl and set aside.
- Divide the noodles amongst four bowls. Place 3-4 pieces of the tofu on top of the noodles followed by 3-4 broccolini spears. Add a handful of cucumber slices and beansprouts and a sprinkling of green chili slices. Finally, spoon some of the Green Coconut sauce over the lot and add a dusting of the peanut mixture.
- Serve immediately with something cleansing. 😉