I don’t know about you, but sometimes I reflect on where I have been and I wonder how I managed to pull through. How did I manage to survive 4 years of medical school? Nearly 5 years of residency? Cycle between Ottawa and Kingston and back again? In the thick of it: I don’t think, I just perform.
During medical school, for the first two years, I routinely had lectures from 8am to 5pm every day, interspersed with small group sessions, anatomy labs and clinical skills workshops. Even when I go to conferences, I don’t subject myself to 9 hours of lectures in a day. It is just nuts. However, this weekend I sat through 3 days of intense review-type lectures. Rapid fast compressed learning, except it was more of a reminder of things I already knew. However, after 10 hours of lectures on Saturday, and a lengthy 3 hour drive home (thank you Toronto traffic), I was positively pooped. The next day, too. The last thing I wanted to do was to cook… it was that bad. I ended up sleeping at 8pm. ;)
Meals stashed in the freezer are a definite boon these days. However, I find cooking therapeutic. A way to destress as I chop and julienne vegetables, stirring patiently as I saute onions or peacefully munch through the leftovers.
When I finally made it back into the kitchen, instead of reinventing the wheel, I revamped an old favourite. This is a variation of my Chinese Five Spice Vegetable and Noodle Stir Fry. Same flavours, mostly different vegetables. Turns out the original recipe called for winter vegetables like Brussels sprouts. My first incarnation included parsnips, carrots, green beans, oyster mushrooms and Swiss chard; basically the odds and ends in my fridge. This time, I included thinly sliced Brussels sprouts, enoki mushrooms, carrots and parsnips: the current odds and ends in my fridge. The hardest part is chopping all the vegetables, but a quick saute in the wok yields a flavourful meal from the Chinese five spice. I use kelp noodles, which I like in Asian stir fries, but feel free to use your favourite noodle. Gena recently wrote a great post all about kelp noodles if you have yet to try them. I am already imagining my next incarnation, likely including edamame. :)
16 oz kelp noodles, rinsed and drained (or your favourite noodle) [cut kelp noodles into smaller pieces for easier mixing]
2 tsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick (340g)
1 large parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced (140g)
1 package enoki mushrooms, trimmed and coarsely chopped (200g)
8 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (200g)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce (I used Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
2 tbsp sake
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder (homemade or store-bought)
juice of half a lime juice (1-2 tbsp), to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Cook your noodles as per the package directions. For kelp noodles, rinse and drain.
2. Have all of your vegetables cut before starting.
3. In a non-stick wok over high heat, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and chile flakes and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the carrot and parsnip and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and garlic and stir-fry for a couple more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the wok.
4. In the same wok, over medium-low heat, add your cooked noodles. Add the soy sauce, sake, Chinese five spice powder and stir to mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the vegetables and toss together and keep warm. Squeeze lime juice overtop and mix well. Season to taste.