Tag Archives: noodles

Bangkok Curry Noodle Bowls with Crisp Baked Tofu

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (11 of 11)

Some things I’ve enjoyed about the past few weeks: The stretches of days where we’ve had sunshine and weather warm enough to trick you into thinking Spring’s closer than it is. Slow walks through downtown, mostly to the grocery store. Our two old dogs, who are nearing the end of their days, following me around throughout the day then laying right under my feet later as I try to prepare dinner. Stretching homemade pizza dough into very OCD pizza rounds. Unintentional lazy weekend days (Sundays, after long sports-filled Saturdays). Not bothering to brush my every-growing-ridiculously-long hair for days at a time (messy buns to the rescue!). The rain we’ve suddenly been getting, with the threat of more rain and potential snow this weekend… Bowls of noodles.

Bowls of noodles of any sort are my go-to comfort food. Mac and cheese, ramen/saimin, cold udon or soba noodles… The following recipe is soup-like, but heavy on the noodle-to-soup ratio. The sauce is creamy, delicious, not overly spicy, but super flavorful. If you want things a little spicier, you can certainly add your desired amount of chili-garlic sauce!

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (8 of 11)

Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Baked Tofu

Serves 8-10 people.


For the Tofu:
15.5 ounces extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp gochujang (I prefer Mother in Law’s 00 Fermented Chili Paste)

For the Coconut Curry Sauce:
2 tablespoon oil
3 shallots, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
4 tablespoons red curry paste
2 14-ounce cans regular coconut milk
1 cup No-Chicken (or vegetable broth)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons gochujang
6 tablespoons soy sauce

For the Bowls:
12 ounces brown rice noodles
2 tablespoon oil
half an onion, chopped thinly
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups chopped asparagus
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
black sesame seeds for topping
limes for serving
a handful of fresh thai basil for serving

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (9 of 11)


Prepare the tofu: Drain tofu about an hour before you want to prepare your meal. Roll the tofu in an absorbent towel several times and then place something heavy on top to press. I use a pot on top of a cutting board and sometimes add something to the pot to add more weight. Do this for 30 minutes.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (1 of 11)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. While the oven preheats, cut the tofu into bite size cubes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, minced garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar and gochujang. Gently toss the tofu in the mixture. Place the tofu on a nicely/generously oiled baking sheet, arranged in a single layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the tofu is nicely brown and crisp on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside until needed.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (3 of 11)

Prepare the noodles: soak the noodles in a bowl of cold water for at least 20 minutes, until they’re soft. Drain and rinse. Set aside until needed.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (2 of 11)

Prepare the sauce: heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and ginger; stirring around for 3-5 minutes. Add the curry paste; cook for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, sugar, gochujang, and soy sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes or so while you prep the rest of the ingredients – it should thicken slightly.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the remaining two tablespoons oil over high heat. Add the onion, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until the broccoli and asparagus are bright green and just slightly tender. Add the noodles and baked tofu, tossing them around with the vegetables. Add the sauce and toss together until just combined (if you cook it too long at this point, the noodles can get overly sticky).

Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (4 of 11)

Prepare the bowls: serve bowls topped with the purple cabbage and sesame seeds, along with a squeeze of lime and chopped basil leaves. Enjoy!

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Forbidden Rice Blog | Bangkok Curry Noodles with Crisp Tofu (10 of 11)

Gemelli with a Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

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I was going to tell you how I’ve been meaning to write this post for a week and a half now.  I was planning to let you know I haven’t disappeared, my blog isn’t at some official standstill. I thought about bringing up how many times I’ve sat down to write these words, only to fall asleep halfway through, or find myself needing to be in fifteen other places simultaneously. Maybe I should mention we took a super last minute trip to Portland last week with Vincent and his girlfriend, who participated in the USA Olympic Development Program for water polo. I brought work along on the trip, but didn’t touch any of it for three days straight. (I did eat some good food though… and more doughnuts than necessary.)

It seems my to-do list is never complete and constantly growing. On one hand, I don’t mind. I function better as a person when I have things to do. Cooking hasn’t taken some back-burner position (nor has the food consumption around here), but the photographing appears to be an afterthought once dinner has already been demolished. It’s okay. I’ll get back into the swing of things eventually. Bear with me; there is good food to be had… I promise.

Let’s eat more pasta in 2015. No shame in the pasta game around these parts! I do want to explore sauces and noodles in combinations that have nothing to do with marinara or pesto sauce. The following recipe was a leap in that direction and warmly welcomed here.

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Gemelli with a Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce

Serves 6-8 folks.

1 pound dried gemelli pasta
8-19 large crimini mushrooms, diced bite-size
8 strips of tempeh bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 large cipollini onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8.5 ounces sundried tomatoes (oil packed)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

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Cook the pasta to al dente, in generously salted water according to the package directions. Reserve about 1 cup of the salted cooking water after the pasta has cooked through.

Heat the tablespoon of oil in a medium-large skillet. Cook the tempeh bacon until golden brown on each side. Drain excess oil on a paper towel, then dice into bite-size pieces. Set aside until needed.

In the same skillet you cooked the tempeh, add the 4 tablespoons of butter. Melt over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook, until tender and semi-translucent (4-6 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. Cook for an additional minute, before adding in the heavy whipping cream. Reduce heat to medium and cook until the sauce begins to thicken slightly (10 minutes or so). Stir in the parmesan cheese, then taste and add pepper and salt to your liking. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to coat.

Increase the heat to medium high and cook the pasta in the sauce for about 5 more minutes. Sprinkle the parsley on top then serve immediately.

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Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu

My ideal comfort food is a bowl of noodles. Fancy or plain, it rarely matters. I grew up knowing how to cook Top Ramen by the time I was 7 or 8 and it was one of my favorite go-to after school snacks. In Hawaii we call it saimin (sigh-min). Saimin is essentially the Hawaiian version of what we call ramen here on the mainland. As with so many foods in the islands, the creation of saimin is the result of numerous combined cultures. Traditional saimin recipes include ingredients from a variety of ethnic backgrounds: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Hawaiian, Portuguese – in other words, the people who labored on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations existent in Hawaii in the 20th century.

Like with most soups, the real key to a good saimin is the broth. Traditional saimin broth is often based with a Japanese dashi – a stock made of seaweed, dried fish or shrimp, and water. Often added is chicken stock or even beef stock. Toppings include, but are not limited to kamaboko (fish cake), char siu pork, nori/furikake, hard boiled eggs, green onions, spam.

On Kauai where I am from, there is a noodle house I have mentioned before, Hamura Saimin. My favorite saimin to get there is the Special – a bowl of noodles with their magical broth, topped with char siu, kamaboko, half an egg, wontons, ham, bok choy and green onions. I dream of eating this saimin all the time. However, since Kauai is so far away and I don’t cook any meat at home, I had to figure out a way to get my fix.

I wanted a deep, rich broth that was earthy and flavorful. I used mushrooms, miso, seaweed, and fish flakes for that aspect. The inclusion of fish makes this particular broth non-vegetarian, but f you read the note in the directions, however, I’ve shared a way to keep this entirely vegetarian for you as well.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu

Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu

Serves 4 – 6 people.


For the broth:
2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
one 4-6 inch strip of kombu seaweed, rinsed and wiped off
one 4-inch chunk of white ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup bonito flakes
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup tamari (low sodium is okay)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons mirin
1/2 an onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 tablespoons light white miso
8-10 cups No-Chicken broth

For the wontons (yields about 3 dozen):
1 package Gimme Lean Sausage Style veggie meat
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 1/2 ounces water chestnuts, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2-inch piece of white ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons of the rehydrated mushrooms from your broth, minced
3 dozen or so wonton wrappers
2 egg whites, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

For the ramen:
6 – 8 ounces ramen noodles *
2 – 4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 ounces extra firm tofu, diced into small cubes
one cup of sunflower, canola, or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
chopped scallions
red chili flakes

  • For the noodles, I prefer fresh noodles. These Freshpak noodles from Annie Chun are wonderful. The package says chow mein noodles, but they work well in this ramen. I used two bags (so four packs of noodles, as there are two per bag) for this dish. I find these freshpak noodles among other fresh noodles in our grocery store, but I’ve also seen them in the freezer section. If you cannot find good fresh noodles, I have also resorted to buying Koyo Ramen before, just for the noodles. This particular brand bakes their organic noodles, rather than frying them. I would use four packages of these noodles (8 ounces) for this recipe, simply discarding the sauce packet of saving it for future use. Should Top Ramen be the only variety you can find, you can use those noodles too.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu


Make your broth: Combine all of the listed ingredients for the broth in a large stock pot. Stir well and turn the heat on to medium-high. Once the broth comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Let the broth cook for 3 to 4 hours, occasionally giving it a good stir.

  • To make this a vegetarian broth, feel free to leave out the bonito (fish flakes) and fish sauce. If you do this, you can add a little more miso or tamari for a deeper, richer flavor. Add as much or as little as necessary for your liking.


Make your wontons: In a large bowl, combine the Gimme Lean, scallions, shallot, water chestnuts, garlic, rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, salt, pepper, and mushrooms. Mix thoroughly.


To assemble the wontons, place one wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand. Add about one teaspoon of the mixture to the middle of the wrapper. Dip a finger in the egg wash, and coat all four edges with the wash. Fold the wonton in half, corner to opposite corner, making a triangle. Seal tightly, gently squeezing out the air while being careful not to tear the wonton. Fold the longer two triangle points together and seal to make the wonton shape. Place the folded wonton on a clean, dry baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap to avoid drying out. You can freeze all leftover wontons, as you’ll only use about half of them for this recipe. You can deep fry them as an appetizer as another option.


Prepare your tofu: Place the one cup of oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir in the salt. Bring the oil up to 350 degrees F, over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough, gently drop in the cubed tofu (it will splatter, so be careful). Gently stir the tofu as it’s cooking until it turns nice and golden brown. Drain the tofu on paper towels and set aside until needed.

Prepare your ramen: Once the broth has cooked for at least three hours, pour it through a fine mesh strainer (I do this into another large stock pot). Return the strained broth to the stove and bring the heat up to a simmer over medium high.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu

Gently lower the wonton into the stock (15-20 of them). They will likely sink – this is okay. Allow the wonton to cook until they float to the surface of the stock. If you are using fresh noodles, lower them into the stock, gently stirring (chopsticks work great for this) them around. Cook until heated through. If you’re using dried noodles, lower them into your stock and follow the package instructions for how long they should cook (usually somewhere around 4 minutes, I think).

To serve, fill the noodles. Next, top the noodles with some crispy tofu squares, half a hard boiled egg, a few wontons, chopped scallions, furikake, and chili flakes if you want. Slowly ladle as much of the broth as you prefer, over the noodles. Serve immediately.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Miso Mushroom Ramen with Vegetarian Wontons and Crispy Tofu

Veggie Marinara Pasta Bake

Rarely does pasta sound unappealing to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before. My go-to recipe is creamy, heavy on the basil and garlic. This isn’t that recipe. This one’s slightly chunky, not at all creamy, but also a sauce I rely on pretty frequently when making marinara sauce.

Everyone has their own preferred pasta shape. Some folks like spaghetti – angel hair, thin, or regular. Others like egg noodles or bow ties. Maybe macaroni, penne tubes?  Fettuccini, those weird ear shaped noodles? I prefer spirals. The little grooves simply ask for sauce to get caught up in there! You can use whatever you want in this recipe, really.

When my parents separated, my mom went through a period where she cooked spaghetti all the time.  I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for telling the world. Especially since today’s her birthday… (Sorry, Mom!) I hated spaghetti at that point in my life. I don’t know if it really had anything to do with those poor noodles and the sauce that gradually went from all homemade to doctored up jarred sauces to just jarred sauces. It’s okay. I don’t hold a grudge (for too long). This sauce would be great on plain ‘ole spaghetti–skip the baking part all together if you’d like (although baked spaghetti is pretty damn good, too!).

You can’t possibly mess this up. It’s an easy mid-week meal. You can even put it together ahead of time, then stick it in the oven when you’re ready.

Veggie Marinara Pasta Bake


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1- small orange bell pepper, diced
1- stalk celery, minced
1- carrot, peeled and diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2- 14½ oz. cans fire roasted crushed tomatoes
3½ cups water or vegetable broth
4 oz. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
½ tsp. dried coriander
½ cup red wine (if you have it on hand)
pinch of sugar

1 pound pasta spirals
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. butter


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Sauté the onion and bell pepper, until soft and the onion is transluscent. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are softened.

Add in the grape tomatoes and canned tomatoes. Stir until well combined. Add in the bay leaves, basil, salt, thyme, oregano, granulated garlic, pepper, coriander, and sugar. Stir in the water or broth, tomato paste, and wine if using. Cover and allow the sauce to cook for 2-3 hours. (Longer won’t hurt the sauce, just remember to stir it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot.)

When you’re about ready to assemble the dish for baking, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Preheat the oven to 425° F.

Drain the pasta and pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Stir the butter and grated parmesan cheese into the hot pasta, coating the spirals well. Add a generous amount of sauce, stirring to coat the pasta. Add in 1 cup of the mozzarella and half of the cheddar cheese. Add more sauce, mixing everything well. (I ended up with about 2 cups of sauce leftover for another time—it freezes well—but you can add as much or as little sauce as your prefer.) Top with the remaining mozzarella and cheddar.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until everything is bubbly and the cheese on top has melted. Serve hot.