I am like a kid in a toy store the moment I enter an Asian grocery store. I can spend a ton of time walking up and down the aisles to find 8 different noodle types, szechuan peppercorns and the perfect sesame oil. Each section of the store is its own adventure, the seafood section is full of exotic creatures crawling around a multitude of tanks, the refrigerated section contains everything you need for a Survivor style eating contest, and the bakery is an exhibit of colorful and cute pastries. There’s often even an appliance section with futuristic washing machines and electronic toilets that come complete with a bidet/enema setting. I’m not kidding! But I especially love the produce section.
In the produce section I can find things like a banana flower to make my favorite Sri Lankan dish, or bamboo grass for making salads, and of course lots of mushrooms! I love mushrooms, and the selection at Asian markets are so much fun. The last time I went I restrained myself and only bought one kind, a bunch of shimeji mushrooms. You don’t want to eat shimeji mushrooms raw, they’re pretty bitter, but once you cook them the bitterness turns into a slightly nutty flavor and the mushrooms keep a good crunch. To prepare them, simply break them off the bunch, and tear off a little bit off the end of the stem. You can also just use the caps but I like including the stem.
I used pad thai noodles in this stir fry, but you can use any kind you like, udon, mung bean, even ramen or spaghetti. Just prepare the noodles according to the package and then drain well before adding to your stir fry. The flavors are the key in this dish, garlic, ginger and red onion provide the spice, while lime juice and sugar give it a little sweet and sour. I even add a splash of fish sauce for some saltiness. I use my microplane grater for the garlic and ginger, but you can finely chop the garlic and use a regular grater for the ginger (you don’t want to just chop it because grating leaves the tough fibers behind). This is one of those dishes that works great with whatever’s in your fridge. I had some spinach from our CSA that needed to be used up, you could also try peppers, broccoli, zucchini or whatever you like.
Shimeji Mushroom Stir Fry
2 servings of noodles
2 TBS dark sesame oil
2 TBS finely chopped red onion
1 inch grated ginger
2 cloves garlic grated or minced
1 small bunch shimeji mushrooms
1 handful spinach leaves torn into bite size pieces
juice of 1/2 lime
1 TBS fish sauce
Prepare your noodles according to package directions and drain when cooked. Heat sesame oil in a pan over medium high and add onion, ginge and garlic. Fry two minutes and add drained noodles. Stir to coast noodles well with the oil.
Fry noodles for 3 minutes and add mushrooms and spinach. Stir well and fry another 3 minutes. Add lime juice and fish sauce, stir a final time and fry 2 more minutes.
Approximate cost per serving: Less than $1
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Substitute soy sauce if you don’t want to use fish sauce, there are many varieties of asian noodles that are gluten free
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