We love interactive food in our house. Maybe we’ve all got a little ADHD, but we like to move around and have fun with our food. Personally, anything that keeps my teenagers in the kitchen for longer than a drive-by is a win for me. And playing with your food, legitimate-style, seems to do the trick. Some of our favourites are Taco Tuesday, Chili Bars, Mid-Winter Burger Bars, and this totally awesome Asian Noodle Bar.
Fun Family Food: Asian Noodle Bar
Prep for this dinner takes a few minutes, but once it’s all done, you can just sit and relax while everyone makes their own dinner. Exactly the way they like it. The bonus? This type of supper seems to encourage conversation. Come with your probing questions ready. (PS it’s also great for company. If you are making the noodle bar for guests, it’s probably not advisable to come with probing questions.)
As usual, this recipe is adaptable. You can make it completely vegetarian, and you can make it for two or for 20.
What You’ll Need:
For the Broth:
About 1 1/2 – 2 cups of high quality chicken or vegetable broth per person
A few slices of fresh ginger, peeled
Fresh lemongrass to taste (Optional. I used about 1 stalk cut up for 10 cups of broth)
For the Protein:
About 1/2 a chicken breast per person, cut into bite sized pieces
Extra firm tofu, well-drained and cut into cubes
Optional: fresh shrimp, boiled or steamed
Soya sauce, chinese 5 spice powder, garlic powder
For the vegetables:
A variety of vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces. For example, broccoli, carrots, chinese broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms
Other vegetables for crunch, such as sliced green onion, bean sprouts
I used 1 package of brown rice noodles, prepared to package directions and one package of Udon noodles prepared to package directions. The Udon noodles were more popular. Use the noodles that you like. (Hint: I also flash boiled them for a minute or two after following package directions.)
Assorted sauces and seasonings, such as Sriracha, hot sauce, Hoisin Sauce, Soya Sauce
What You’ll Do:
In a large dutch oven, bring the stock and aromatics to the boil. Cover, and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
Season the chicken with some soya sauce and Chinese 5 spice powder. Toss the tofu with some soya sauce and garlic powder. Let sit 10 minutes.
Bake the chicken and tofu in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked (not pink) and the tofu is browning. You can stir once during baking. Plate as desired (if you have a vegetarian, you should probably put the tofu in a separate dish.)
Using a vegetable steamer, or pot with a steamer insert, individually steam the prepared chopped vegetables, approximately 3-5 minutes each. Once cooked, place in a serving dish (such as one designed for crudite platters) as they’re done (it doesn’t matter if they cool off, as they’ll be warmed up by the hot broth.)
While you work with the vegetables, (make sure not to over-cook them!), prepare the noodles. Place the cooked noodles in serving bowls.
Place everything on the table or on a buffet counter, and give everyone a bowl.
Sit down, relax, and enjoy your family time.