After Thanksgiving week gluttony, it is back to the grind! Which for me, also means a (short) break from baking sugary treats and transitioning back to healthy meals. Although eating pie for breakfast and dessert is wonderful, I needed to do something more positive for my nutritional well-being. After copious amounts of hearty food, I was craving something completely different, yet still comforting- and immediately though of miso and ginger…and eggplant! Yes, random, but that is what I do best.
I’ve never experimented with miso before and am only familiar with it from the many bowls of miso soup I’ve had with sushi. There are valid nutritional reasons to cook with miso though. For those who are also new to the miso boat, it is a fermented paste made out of soybeans, rice or other grains, and koji, the “starter” for the fermenting process. Therefore it is full of good-for-you probiotics! There are also various types/colors of miso. The white miso has a mellower, sweeter flavor because it has a higher percentage of rice, whereas the red has a higher soybean content and is made with barley or other grains, giving it a more intense flavor.
I used the white miso for this recipe, because I combined the miso with other Asian flavors such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil to create a sweet but tangy sauce. To keep this noodle dish light but also substantial enough for a meal, I threw in vegetables with a variety of colors and textures. The eggplant is especially great for vegetarian dishes because of it’s meaty texture and earthy flavor. It also soaks up flavors like a sponge. The bok choy and shiitakes are also a welcome change from the fall/winter rut of squashes and kale. So enjoy this new, healthy meal to start off your December and your tastebuds and tummy will thank you!
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 8 oz thin rice noodles (round or flat)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large eggplant or 2-3 small Japanese eggplants, chopped into small pieces
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp fresh minced ginger
- 2 large carrots, chopped into small rounds or half circles
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 head bok choy, chopped into ribbons
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 4 tsp sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp white miso paste
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp agave
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
This noodle bowl, like all Asian stir-fries, lends itself well to substitutions. You could use any type of mushroom or add other vegetables you so desire. If you replace the bok choy with spinach, do not add until the very end because it will wilt faster. Also feel free to play around with the sauce- you could use Mirin (rice wine) instead of the rice vinegar, add citrus, or even add peanut butter or oil for a richer taste. I fully support using what you have on hand! But I can’t guarantee the results will be as delicious as this one.
- Combine miso and hot water in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add other sauce ingredients in and stir well. Set aside.
- Place rice noodles in large pot of boiling water and let sit until soft but still slightly chewy, about 5 minutes.
- Drain water and pour 1 tsp sesame oil over noodles to keep from sticking together. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat
- Add chopped eggplant, garlic, ginger, and 2 tbsp sauce. Stir often, and let eggplant soften, about 10 minutes.
- Add in carrots, bok choy, and mushrooms and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until eggplant is very soft and vegetables and cooked through but carrots are still crispy.
- Turn heat to low and add in rice noodles and sauce. Stir well to combine, coating all the vegetables and noodles in the sauce. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately or at room temperature. Top each bowl with a handful of scallion slices and 1 tsp sesame seeds.
- Eat and enjoy! (with chopsticks!)