Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat; soba noodles are traditionally made out of buckwheat flour and water. Buckwheat flour is gluten-free, although some soba noodles have regular flour added for elasticity. If you’re gluten intolerant, look for 100 percent buckwheat noodles. Soba noodles have a strong nutty flavor and they can be eaten in hot or cold dishes. They are easy to find at Asian grocery stores and at most health food stores.
Boil your noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water and place them in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and then add some thinly sliced carrot, chopped cucumber, and sliced green onion. Mix everything together and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
A well-seasoned wok is a handy tool to add to any kitchen. Woks make stir-frying super easy because the heat gets evenly distributed and the sides are high enough that you’ll never make a mess. Cleaning and seasoning your wok is a must before you start cooking in it. Seasoning a wok is an ongoing process, and like wine, it just gets better with time. You’ll know when your wok is perfectly seasoned when you can cook an omelet in it without using oil. There are several different ways to season your new kitchen toy; here’s one of the easiest and most efficient.
Unseasoned woks are coated with oil to keep them from rusting before they’re sold. It’s important to get this coating off before you season your wok. To do this, thoroughly wash your wok inside and out with hot soapy water and a steel scrubbing pad.
After your wok is thoroughly washed, dry it completely. You can use a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel, let the wok air dry, or put the wok over very low heat for several minutes. Just make sure that it is 100 percent dry before you start the seasoning process.
Place your wok over medium high heat for one minute and add a couple tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil (don’t use olive oil). With a pair of kitchen tongs, take some paper towels and spread the oil all around the wok and up the sides. You want the entire surface of the inside of your wok covered with oil. The color will change from shiny gray to a yellowish blue color and then to black.
Once the oil is evenly distributed, turn down the heat to low and leave the wok over low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, pour out any remaining oil, rinse with hot water (no soap), and dry with a paper towel.
Once wok is dry, place over medium heat and add another couple of tablespoons of oil. After about a minute, add a few handfuls of Chinese chives or green onions that have been cut two inches or so in length. With your spatula or wooden spoon, spread the aromatics all over the wok and up the sides. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the chives or green onions look burnt. This will take any metallic taste out of the wok. If the mixture starts to get dry, add more oil. Remove the wok from the heat and let cool. When totally cool, remove the green onions or chives and then rinse the wok with hot water and dry with a paper towel.
Your wok is now ready for use and will continue to get seasoned the more you use it.
Remember: Never wash your wok with soap or a metal scrubber (apart from the very first time). Use hot water and a bamboo or plastic scrubber and always thoroughly dry it with a paper towel or cloth so that it won’t rust.
Once you have a perfectly cooked pot of rice, throwing together a rice bowl is a great way to make an easy dinner with endless possibilities.
First you need to cook your rice. There are many varieties of rice; basmati, jasmine, long grain, and short grain are the most common. Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice because it hasn’t been refined. During the refining process, the nutrient dense bran and the hull are stripped from the rice. If you’ve found brown rice to be dry, make this stovetop method for perfectly moist brown rice every single time.
Soak 2 cups of brown rice in water for a couple of hours, up to overnight. Drain and rinse thoroughly and place in a pot along with 4 cups of water, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a touch of olive oil. Bring to a boil, stir once, and then turn the heat to very low and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes and then check the progress. If all the liquid has been absorbed, it’s done. If there is still some liquid in the pan, tilt the lid and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl. Cool completely before you store it in the fridge.
After your rice is cooked, you can throw together whatever veggies, protein, and extras you have in your fridge. Here are three ideas to help get you started.
Asian-inspired rice bowl
Place a portion of rice in the bottom of a large bowl and top with sautéed tofu cubes (sauté with sliced green onions and soy sauce), grated carrot, steamed broccoli, a mixture of sautéed red onion, red cabbage, and baby bok choy. Top with sesame seeds, a drizzle of sesame oil, a touch of soy sauce, and a shake of red pepper flakes.
Taco-inspired rice bowl
Place a portion of rice in the bottom of a large bowl and top with pinto or black beans, sautéed red onion slices, sautéed summer squash rounds, avocado slices, and chopped tomato. Top with salsa, cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Detox rice bowl
Place a portion of rice in the bottom of a large bowl and top with grated beet and sautéed kale with ginger and mushrooms. Top with fresh parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some raw sunflower seeds. ✜
Molly Patrick blogs at CleanFoodDirtyGirl.com. She received a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies.