September 9, 2013

Garden Series, Part VIII: Carrots and Cucumbers

Recently, I was in the middle of a baking project and realized I had missed lunch.  Also recently, I went on an excursion to H-Mart in the suburbs with a dear friend of mine and loaded up on ingredients not found in the local grocery.  Such a good match, these two occurrences.  Throw in some garden produce, and you've got a late lunch. Or dinner, I'm not picky.

But not to worry, I'm not giving you a recipe with a bunch of hard-to-find ingredients.  In fact, it relies on the American standard of the sweetest, most-hydrogenated peanut butter, which I love despite all its failures.  Of course, you are welcome to use the natural stuff, if you have that sort of thing lying around.

Besides the Jiffy, the most exotic ingredients are soba noodles, Sriracha, and shiitake mushrooms - all of which one can find in the regular grocery store, but probably for twice the cost.  I'm not sure about the Sriracha, though, since I bought a huge bottle of it the last time I went to H-Mart and have never looked back.  It's basically an essential pantry ingredient.

In the pictures, you'll see a pile of fried seaweed with sesame seeds.  This stuff is seriously delicious, but probably far less likely to be found anywhere but the giant Asian grocery in the suburbs.  It turns out that it's best eaten as a snack on the side anyway.  I have no idea what's in it it either, but I'm pretty sure that it's manufactured to have an addictive balance of salt, sugar, and fat that makes it so you can't stop eating it.  You'll never know whether I'm snacking on it right now while I'm writing this.

As for the carrots and cucumbers, I highly recommend getting your hands on homegrown.  I know this isn't necessarily that easy, but homegrown carrots are the best.  They taste really, really good and if you eat conventional baby carrots from the supermarket, you will be really surprised at the carrot-y taste of back yard carrots.  I grow a variety of them because I am still fascinated by purple (Cosmic) and red (Atomic) carrots after my fifth garden.  I grow a few different cucumbers, but my long-standing favorite is Suyo Long.  It's a strange-looking variety that stays crisp, has few seeds, and refreshing cucumber flavor.


  • 1 bundle (serving) soba noodles
  • 2-4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • large handful mung bean sprouts, picked over and rinsed
  • radishes, or any other vegetable that sounds good (optional), cut into matchsticks/julienned
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • 2 t. peanut butter
  • 2 t. soy sauce
  • Sriracha, to taste

Cook soba noodles according to package directions.  Rinse well under cold, running water and allow to drain.

Heat a scant tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium heat.  Add shiitakes and stir to coat with oil. Stir in salt and saut√© until thoroughly cooked.  Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and Sriracha.  In individual serving bowl, toss together noodles, shiitakes, cucumbers, carrots, sprouts, and sauce.  Top with avocado.  Feel free to add more soy sauce and/or Sriracha to season to taste.

Serves one. 

*Later in the week I made a crazy delicious Bacon Pad Thai.  I took no pictures of it, but perhaps round two will surface in a week or two.

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