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We Should Have Worn Hats

It was a bright, balmy weekend here in Alabama.  As a result, I was dragged outdoors and forced to engage in all sorts of unsuitable athletic activities, including tennis.

The way I see it, tennis should be played as it was in Victorian England: there should be hats, witty remarks, and tea sandwiches with cucumbers and butter.  High-speed volleys should be avoided because they interfere with polite conversation.

Scott, I’m afraid, sees things differently.  He approaches tennis as if it’s the year 3050 and he’s playing you for the right to eat the last candy bar remaining on the planet Earth.

So it’s surprising that I survived to write to you today.  I wouldn’t say I survived gracefully.  After all, it’s hard to maintain your composure when you’re sweating like a moose and a tennis ball is speeding toward your left boob at 70 miles an hour.  But I did survive, which is good because I want to tell you about this tangy noodle salad.

chinese noodles with tofuIt’s a simple toss-together of Chinese noodles, a fantastic dressing, and pan-seared tofu.

The only draw-back is that it required some ingredients we didn’t have lying around, like oyster sauce, Asian chili-garlic sauce, and Chinese noodles.  The good news is I got them them all for a reasonable price at the big grocery store in our town, and I expect to make the dressing again for chicken or salmon or steamed broccoli.  It’s like a peanut sauce, but tangier.  The rice vinegar gives it a kick and the tahini makes it rich and satisfying.

chinese noodles with tofu 2The other upside is that Chinese noodles only take 3 minutes to cook.  That leaves you with more time to do other things, like ice your tennis elbow and research the rules to the new family sport: badminton.

chinese noodles with tofu

Noodle & Tofu Bowl {Download & Print Recipe}
Adapted just a tiny bit from Simple Weeknight Favorites by America’s Test Kitchen and told in my own words
This dish is best the day it’s made, but it’s fine the day after.  The noodles hold up well; the dressing just loses a bit of its zip.  I haven’t tried substituting peanut butter for the tahini, but it’s worth a shot if you don’t want to spring for the tahini, which is  probably the priciest ingredient on the list.

Ingredients: {serves 4}

1 14-oz. block of extra-firm tofu

1/4 c. tahini

3 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. finely diced fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 lb. Chinese noodles or 12 oz. dry linguine or vermicelli

4 green onions, chopped into 1/8-1/4″ rings

1/2 c. peanuts or cashews, toasted and chopped (optional)

Directions:

Cut the block of tofu into 3/4″ cubes.  On a baking sheet or the counter, lay out several layers of paper towels.  Spread the tofu on the paper towels and place a paper towel on top.  Press down lightly on the tofu, repeating twice with a fresh paper towel on top, so the tofu releases some of its water.  Let the tofu dry for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime:

1. Put a large pot of water up to boil.

2. Prepare the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk the tahini, vinegar, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, soy sauce and ginger together with a fork.

3. Cook the tofu: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the tofu and cook, flipping occasionally, until the cubes are golden brown and crisp on most sides.  This can take about 10 minutes.

When the water is boiling, add the salt and the noodles.  Cook, stirring often, according to the package instructions, but only until the noodles are soft but not sticky.  If you’re using Chinese noodles, this will only take about 3 minutes. Before you drain the noodles, take 1 1/2 c. of the cooking water out of the pot and set it aside.  Then drain the noodles.

In a large bowl or the empty pot you cooked the noodles in, combine the noodles, dressing, about half the green onions, and 3/4 c. of the cooking water.

[If you forgot to set it aside, just start with 1/2 c. regular water.  The advantage of the cooking water is it contains some of the starch from the noodles, which helps the sauce thicken nicely.]

Toss the noodles to combine.  The cooking water will be reabsorbed by the noodles and will make sure the dressing isn’t too sticky.  You can add more of the reserved cooking water if you need to adjust the consistency of the dressing.  Serve immediately with the remaining green onions and nuts, if using, sprinkled on top of each place. (If you expect to have left-overs, don’t add the nuts to the entire bowl because they’ll be soggy the next day.)

~~~

thunder mid-yawn smallI’m pretty sure dogs were supposed to cover their mouths when they yawned in Victorian England.

This is another point on which Scott and I disagree.

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50 Comments Post a comment
  1. 🙂 thank you for your humorous 3 D’d tales..

    March 11, 2013
    • I’m so glad you stopped by.

      March 11, 2013
      • BTW, ironically, I was wearing my old straw hat…

        March 11, 2013
  2. Next time, perhaps you should have a go at another Victorian era pastime. Falconry. Perhaps you can train one to bring back that candy bar… Or fetch rice vinegar from the market…

    March 11, 2013
    • Dude, totally. I’d get to wear one of those awesome leather wrist and arm protectors, right? I bet those are popular accessories among the hipsters in Brooklyn.

      March 11, 2013
  3. Mr. Craves and Scott would be great together playing tennis – the more action and aggression/competitiveness the better – ha! I am glad to hear you survived:) Loving the last pic in your post. Happy Monday

    March 11, 2013
    • Does Mr. Craves let out subsonic grunts while playing tennis? I mean, really. It was almost indecent. (Insert over-the-top eye-roll here).

      Happy Monday to you too, my friend.

      March 11, 2013
  4. Lovely as usual 🙂 My dream is to one day make all the food on this blog. And I’ll blog about doing it. Obviously.

    March 11, 2013
    • I will help you make the food as long as I can I eat semlor (which I’ve never had but look phenomenal) while we’re cooking. Deal?

      March 11, 2013
  5. Wonderful bowl of noodles! Love the flavors, especially the tahini in them. And I vote for badmington! We used to `play´ with my brothers as kids, but I don´t think we ever got beyond two shots before it hit the ground. It was almost a single person sport.

    March 11, 2013
    • “It was almost a single person sport” made me laugh–what a fantastic way to describe it! I’m thinking we should try to play without the net first (the way people play racket sports at the beach, you know?). Maybe that will make it easier? Or maybe it will actually make it less organized–I can see us running and leaping around the entire back yard like a bunch of idiots, so maybe we should use the net after all.

      March 15, 2013
  6. sonya #

    are all your stories and recipes in a book somewhere that I can buy?! I want to sit at the kitchen table and thumb through past posts instead of sit at this uncomfortable desk where I keep getting sucked into the internet.

    March 11, 2013
    • Oh Sonya, what a wonderful thing to ask. Alas, um… this shabby, well-intentioned operation has not yet reached publication phase. But if it ever does, let’s have a glass of bubbly and A TON of desserts to celebrate, okay? I’ll bring Thunder.

      March 15, 2013
  7. Phew! So glad you didn’t substitute moose sweat for the tahini, cuz this is vegan recipe (thank you, ever so) looks delish! And Thunder is yawning? I thought she was laughing at the squished boob.

    March 11, 2013
    • She IS laughing, Sandy Sue, but I told her to cut it out. 🙂

      Someday when cars run on vegetable oil and moose sweat, I’m going to look back on this comment and realize that you were ahead of your time.

      March 15, 2013
  8. If you had to switch the tofu out for something else, would you go the chicken route or what? Tofu is my tennis.

    March 11, 2013
    • Ha! Liene, I would throw some steamed broccoli in there, but that’s just because I love how broccoli florets catch dressing. Mmm. But if you want a protein, I think chicken would be perfect.

      March 11, 2013
  9. Amy #

    Looks like Thunder found your chest getting maimed as quite amusing (I’m pretty sure she’s laughing, not yawning). I totally agree with you about the pace at which tennis should be played. This sounds a lot like the matches that used to occur between my brother and myself when we were younger…until he refused to play tennis with me anymore.

    This salad looks really yummy. I love anything with an asian flavor…you’ll easily be able to find other uses of the chili-garlic and oyster sauces!

    March 11, 2013
    • Amy, I’m just so glad to discover that I like tofu cooked this way in a little oil. I don’t like it fried up and dripping with fat, but every time I’ve cooked it in the oven it’s been a flop. Cooking it this way on the stove-top was perfect. Yay.

      March 15, 2013
  10. Anne #

    Brilliantly funny! Though, I’m not sure badminton should be your go-to sport. A friend and I used to play and we were BRUTAL. You’d think getting hit with a birdie wouldn’t hurt all that much, until your evil friend spikes it at your face so that it hits at a speed of approximately five bazillion mph. Plus, if you have even the lightest breeze, the game suddenly turns into ‘serve the birdie once, then chase it down as it veers off course and heads for the shrubbery.’

    March 11, 2013
    • Anne, your comment was helpful–on the one hand, it got me excited for badminton. On the other hand, it made me realize I should probably get a mouthguard and tape my nose in some kind of protective wrap before attempting to play.

      March 15, 2013
  11. When i was growing up (last week) I laboured under the misconception that i would be a brilliant tennis player, I truly believed this, tho i did not get an opportunity to show my brilliance until i was in my 20’s and to my absolute and complete surprise i was really really terrible. i even failed as a ball boy. So bring on the cuc sammies and the brolly. you will find me over there with the delicate victorian fan and BIG HAT! c

    March 11, 2013
    • I’m not surprised that you failed as a ball boy. Not because there’s anything wrong with you, but because ball boys have a hard job! They basically sign up to SPRINT and sit, SPRINT and sit, SPRINT and sit for an entire match, right? WHY would anyone in their right mind DO THAT.

      My brother was a ball boy for our college basketball team a few times when we were growing up. He had to sprint out onto the court and mop up sweat and then sprint back. I mean, gross.

      March 15, 2013
  12. jenny_o #

    Competitiveness takes all the enjoyment out of games, for me anyway. Aren’t they meant to be social activities, after all? Of course they are 🙂

    Thunder looks like she’s just told a hilarious joke!

    March 11, 2013
    • Agree, agree, AGREE. The only thing I get competitive at is wrapping Christmas presents. I want to wrap them ALL. Everyone’s. If I could go to someone’s house and volunteer to wrap their presents, I would.

      March 15, 2013
  13. Lovely (my favorite English word) photos.

    March 12, 2013
    • Lovely is a good word. My favorite of ALL is the word “biscuit.”

      March 15, 2013
  14. In my family, the most successful kind of badminton game is one in which you never spill a drop of your gin & tonic (which you carry in your non-racquet hand, of course).

    March 12, 2013
    • Virginia, you would fit right in here. You and your family are cordially invited to join us in a rousing game of badminton whenever your little hearts desire.

      March 15, 2013
  15. My parents enrolled me in tennis lessons for a summer. It went as well as the skating lessons did. And though I’m sad that Scott is so… into tennis, I’m really glad he feels so strongly about chocolate bars.

    March 13, 2013
    • Oh God. The ice skating.

      I am having fun imagining what your mom dressed you (and Hadley?) in for tennis lessons. Yowzers.

      March 15, 2013
  16. I say, old bean, how simply ghastly, what what? Stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on. Pip-pip!

    March 13, 2013
    • I dare say, old sport, you’re jolly funny!

      (How’d I do? That’s all I got.)

      March 15, 2013
      • Tophole! That means good, but only characters in Enid Blyton books about boarding schools for girls say it.

        March 18, 2013
  17. Glad you survived the tennis match. Your salad sounds delish!

    March 13, 2013
    • I’m glad too! Though I was quite sore in the arms afterward, I must say!

      March 15, 2013
  18. Sometimes i find that if you play tennis whilst appropriately attired in matching sweat headbands and wristbands (a la The Royal Tennenbaums), you become better at it. Or less afraid. One of the two.
    I want this asian noodle salad so bad right now it sorta hurts. Not unlike a tennis ball to my left boob would.

    March 14, 2013
    • You know, I know from experience that you’re right. Scott and his sister and her husband do this thing every Christmas Eve where they go to Target and everyone gets a $10 limit to spend on funny and random gifts for each other person’s stocking. Last Christmas, someone put a sweatband and a wristband in mine. I wore them for about a week because they made me feel AWESOME. Seriously, I don’t know what it is about them, but I felt like a million bucks whenever I put them on. When we got home, Seymour ate the headband. For a brief time, it was the best accessory ever.

      March 15, 2013
  19. Oh man I used to be so badass at badminton in middle school. It is my most victorious phys ed story, where I was at a stand off for several days straight with the Asian kid in my class – who just sort of also happened to be the best badminton player, go figure. Eventually I crumbled like a (boob wound?) wet Chinese noodle, but for those few moments when I sensed glory, I understood what it was like to be alive. To be free. To soar.

    I think once you’ve studied up on the rules you too can learn to soar.

    March 14, 2013
    • I am inspired by this, Emma. I hope that one day, after much practice and weight training, I will be in a stand-off for several days with Scott and I will emerge victorious. I will think of you while I’m doing a 30-minute victory dance.

      Until then, my friend!

      March 15, 2013
      • I’ll drink to that; cheers!

        March 15, 2013
  20. jillian #

    Do tennis courts not equip their female patrons with Boob-E-Guards? (I capitalized those words in hopes that such things exist. I’m doubtful they’d be called that if they did.)

    March 18, 2013
    • Jillian, I’m happy to report that I just googled “Boob-E-Guards” and I GOT NOTHING. The field is wide open! We should think about buying the domain name and then get started on designing a product.

      March 18, 2013
      • jillian #

        ASAP! I’m thinking something along the lines of rebar and cast iron for the base materials. With foam tubing as a shock absorber. We can’t go wrong!

        March 18, 2013
  21. jillian #

    And for your information, I just ordered a pair of men’s overalls. For me, the lady of this house. Solidarity for my fellow overall wearing blogger down south.

    March 18, 2013
    • This is excellent news. Just last night I was looking for my jeans because we were going to meet some friends at a restaurant, and Scott said “they’re right there!”–pointing to the overalls. I thought to myself, “do I wear them so often that he thinks they’re, like, my regular pants?” If so, way to go me.

      March 18, 2013
      • jillian #

        Ha! You have a good man.

        March 18, 2013
  22. That’s a wonderful day with tennis and noodles Miss 🙂

    March 18, 2013

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