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COOKING FOR TWO: Give leftovers a rest with hoisin broccoli, noodles

by Joe Yonan, The Washington Post | February 17, 2021 at 1:57 a.m.
Sticky Hoisin Broccoli With Almonds (For The Washington Post/Laura Chase de Formigny)

With all this cooking we're doing day in and day out, leftovers can be such a blessing, especially once you join the Tamar Adler school of thought. If you haven't read her book "An Everlasting Meal," it gets its title from the idea that pretty much everything you make can lead into the next thing you make, deliciously blurring the lines.

But every now and then there's a break in the chain. You make so much of a stew that you can't seem to transform, eat or freeze it fast enough to keep some of it from spoiling. Or you finally cry uncle when faced with yet another unlabeled jar containing two tablespoons of a vinaigrette you don't even remember whisking together.

This is especially a challenge for solo cooks, as I know from living (and writing about) the subject for so long. But I've been cooking for two for several years now, and it can still be hard to try recipes from various sources that make four, six or more servings — and find creative ways to stay on top of it all.

So when I see a get a chance to write about a recipe that's built for two, I jump at the chance to create a one-and-done meal as a break from the tyranny of leftovers. Ching-He Huang's new book, "Asian Green," had just the thing I knew we'd like: wok-charred broccoli glazed in a sticky hoisin-orange sauce and tossed with soba or udon noodles (or, really, whatever you like).

It's not quite a one-pot affair — you need to boil the noodles separately — but it comes together so quickly that the broccoli is cooked and glazed in its sweet-and-sour sauce by the time the noodles are done. Toss together, top with some sliced almonds, and dinner is ready.

The quantity hits that sweet spot between two and three servings, depending on your appetite. Whichever way you go, take that last bite and you'll agree: It was good while it lasted.

Sticky Hoisin Broccoli With Almonds

  • 4 ounces udon noodles or soba noodles
  • 1 long red chile, such as Asian finger pepper or bird pepper or cayenne, finely chopped (de-seeded if you prefer less heat)
  • Scant ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon honey (may substitute agave nectar or golden syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1 small head broccoli (1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or other vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) toasted slivered almonds

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.

In a small bowl, whisk together the chile, broth, hoisin, orange juice, tamari, ginger, cornstarch, honey, sesame oil and zest.

Break the broccoli into bite-size florets, cutting larger ones in half or quarters, if needed. Trim the end off the stem and, using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the remaining stem, then cut it into ¼-inch circles and then matchsticks.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until smoking, then pour in the sunflower oil. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Add water around the edges of the wok and cook for an additional minute or so, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Pour in the sauce and stir, coating the broccoli, until glossy. Add the noodles and toss to warm through and coat in the sauce.

Divide among serving bowls, top with the toasted almonds and serve hot.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Recipe adapted from "Asian Green" by Ching-He Huang (Kyle Books, 2021)

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