If you know me, you know that I don’t always have access to the ingredients I wish I could get my hands on. Every year, more and more new products arrive, but some simple things still aren’t here. Like decent brown sugar. Or good flour, never mind more difficult ingredients, like those used in foreign cuisines.
We actually are fortunate when it comes to Asian ingredients. There’s very few things we can’t get our hands on. (At least for the dishes I’m making. Please don’t tell me what I’m missing out on). But recently, on one of the local Facebook pages for expats, I noticed that someone recommended a store in Cancun for harder to find Asian ingredients. I messaged my friend in Cancun and asked if she knew about it. Um, yes, she replied, “I told you about it a year ago”.
The other day we were making a trip up to Cancun. My mother has a doctor’s appointment there every two months and we usually include in that a trip to Costco. My friend sent me the address and location and even a picture of the store. We took off in what I felt was plenty of time to find it.
It’s a good thing we did, because it was a bit of a fiasco. I was not aware that it was actually a warehouse, in an area of warehouses, without a sign. We drove around and around and nobody seemed to know where it was. Finally one guard said yes you’re in the right spot and ‘it’s four light posts down the street’. I counted. No store. I called my friend. I asked her to call the store and ask where they are. Finally a young woman comes out and waves at me. Finally, we had found it.
I walk my two elderly parents in …. yes, to a warehouse. I’m confused. I ask if I’m allowed to buy oriental products and if so where are they? Yes, of course, they’re up those 25 stairs in a tiny office. My parents laugh and say we’ll just wait down here.
I go up to the office. There are 7 people working inside a tiny area. I continue to be confused. I see what looks like 3 shelves of someones messy and disorganized pantry. I finally begin to understand. This is a warehouse for restaurants. These are their samples and I order whatever I want.
So here I am. Asking the cost of each and every thing that interests me. Texting my friend back in Playa. Texting my mother downstairs. Realizing at this point I only have 10 minutes left before we head out for the doctor appointment. I become frazzled.
But, I did end up with some good loot. At good prices. My favorite find was these udon noodles I have never seen. Usually we buy the pre-cooked udon noodles at Costco and we like them a lot. But I had to try these ones. I wasn’t disappointed. I had to cook them a little like regular pasta but I had the time and it was worth it.
I decided to put the pretty noodles in a meatless stir-fry because I have NOT been eating enough vegetables lately. (And my daughter didn’t seem to notice the mushrooms, which is the one vegetable she’s not forced to eat). This is fast and easy and you’ll probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry if you do any type of Asian cooking. If you use the already softened noodles, this meal can be ready in under 30 minutes; 20 if you are a better vegetable chopper than me.
Of course, you can change up the veggies if you so choose. I had some wilting spinach so I threw that in as well although it’s not pictured. You don’t need the red pepper, but I added it for color and crunch.
Try it tonight. It’s light and healthy and delicious. And easy. Did I mention easy? Just look how little directions there are.
- 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 TAB honey
- 2 TAB rice vinegar
- 4 TAB sesame oil, divided
- 1 TAB sambal oelek (or another kind of chili paste)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 TAB minced ginger
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 carrot, coarsely grated
- small head broccoli, broken into small pieces
- half onion, thinly sliced
- half red pepper, thinly sliced
- 250 grams udon noodles
- 2 TAB cooking oil
Combine soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, 2 TAB sesame oil, sambal oelek, garlic and ginger in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
In a large frying pan, combine cooking oil and 2 TAB sesame oil and turn to medium heat. Add broccoli and onion and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding remaining vegetables. Stir until cooked but still has a bite, about 4-5 minutes. Add pre-cooked udon noodles and sauce and stir until combined. Let warm through in pan for about 2 minutes before removing from heat.
Makes 2 large servings.
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