Today was a cheery day! Easter is a happy day for the family, remembering the joyful season (no bunnies included) and a weekend off work. It’s pretty much my first weekend off after a couple of crazy busy months and it was so wonderful to potter around the kitchen and to think up crazy recipes.
Of course pottering around the kitchen is not a continuous activity nowadays as our little adopted cavoodle seems to think we all need to play fetch continuously with her. She was recently given a garish orange fluffy squeaky toy recently and she completely fell in love with it – it’s taken precedence over the tennis balls. So every once in a while in the midst of chopping or frying, I’ve got to pause whatever I’m doing and throw the orange monster clear across the room for Lola to fetch.
Anyway recently a friend went to Bangkok and brought back some dried blue pea flowers for me. This is truly a blast from the past for me – I remember many Saturdays as a child waiting for my dad to pick me up from piano class. My teacher’s house had an abundance of blue pea flowers blooming and I used to pluck the petals and trace pictures and occasionally rude messages on her pristine white fence. I wonder now why I never got caught as the blue squiggles did stand out quite a bit.
Blue pea flowers are such a beautiful natural food dye – I remember one of my early achievements in Home Econs class was to make something called pulut inti, a Southeast Asian snack that is made from glutinous rice with a sweet coconut topping. What was distinctive was that the rice was stained with blue pea flower dye, and the effect was amazingly pretty.
Image from Hungry Go Where
So whenever friend E gives me a food product, it’s a given that it’s a pantry challenge to make something novel and distinctive with the ingredient. Of course it would have been easy to make tea or rice with the blue dye but it would have been pooh-poohed by my friend as being not innovative enough. So I set about making rainbow noodles instead.
This rainbow noodles is a fun and easy vegetarian dish. It was gratifying to discover how beautifully the shirataki noodles took on the blue colour from the blue pea flower infusion. I was hoping it would keep its vibrant blue with cooking but unfortunately I chose to fry the noodles Mee Goreng style and so the redness from the ketchup and sriracha sauce mixed with the blue and I got purple noodles instead! Nonetheless I did attempt to get the full colour spectrum for this dish – red and yellow bell peppers, orange carrots, green beans, white enoki mushrooms, brown tofu puffs and purple cabbage. The result was really fun and cheerful, and I love the crunchiness of the vegetables and peanuts in this noodle dish as there was a certain freshness in the flavours. They say that one should eat as many colours as possible in the diet as the natural-occurring pigments called anthocyanins are great antioxidants. So my rainbow noodle dish must be chock full off good stuff!
So friend E gave me a thumbs up on this pantry challenge…I still have to catch up on at least 5-6 other ingredients that have been waiting in the sidelines for a while (what on earth do I do with Iranian barberries???). That will be a story for another day…
- 6 packets of shirataki noodles, drained
- 1/2 cup loosely packed dried blue pea flowers
- 1 small red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips
- 1 small yellow bell pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips
- 1 medium carrot, julienned
- 100g green beans, sliced diagonally
- 1 packet of tofu puffs, sliced into strips
- 1 packet of enoki mushrooms, trimmed
- 3 tbsp chopped peanuts
- 2 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp chopped spring onions
- 2 tbsp fried shallots
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 tbsp sugar-free ketchup
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Pour 4 cups of hot boiling water over the dried blue pea flowers in a bowl. Allow the flowers to steep for at least 10 minutes, then strain into another bowl.
- Drain the shirataki noodles, then soak in the blue liquid for 10-15 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat up a non-stick skillet and dry fry the peanuts for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp peanut oil to the skillet and fry the tofu puffs till crispy and slightly browned (about 2 minutes). Set aside.
- Add another 1/2 tbsp to the pan and sauté the enoki mushrooms till they are wilted. Set aside.
- Fry the vegetables individually with a little oil in the pan, adding about 1 tsp light soy sauce with each vegetable (bell peppers, carrots, purple cabbage and green beans). The sauté time is short (about 1-2 minutes) with the intention of keeping the vegetables relatively crisp.
- Drain the shirataki noodles. In a wok, heat up 1 tbsp peanut oil in a wok. Sauté the chopped garlic till fragrant and slightly brown. Add the shirataki noodles and stir fry briefly. Add the noodle sauce to the wok and stir through well, for 2-3 minutes. Add the fried shallots to the noodles and stir through well, then set aside.
- To assemble, place the shirataki noodles in the center of a large platter, then arrange the red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, green beans, purple cabbage, enoki mushrooms and tofu puffs around the margins of the dish.
- Scatter the toasted peanuts and spring onions over the noodles in the center. Serve hot.