Sauteed Zucchini Noodles

I’m constantly amazed at how good simple, fresh vegetables can be. These zucchini noodles that I threw together on a whim for lunch came out better than I thought, mostly because I’m always skeptical about pasta-substitutes. I don’t have a gluten intolerance, so I wasn’t searching for a non-wheat pasta, but rather, a way to use up the bountiful zucchini and handful of okra that’s popping out of my backyard.

Zucchini, okra and basil from the garden transformed into garlicky zucchini noodles and #putaneggonit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini (size depends on your portion size)
  • 2-3 okras
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ground sumac
  • ground aleppo pepper (or cayenne)
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • a few leaves basil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Using a box grater or the shredder attachment on a mandoline, grate the zucchini into long, thin noodles. I like using the box grater on its side and sliding the zucchini lengthwise down it like a mandoline.  Dump the pieces into a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out the excess liquid. Set that aside.

In a frying pan on medium heat, fry up a smashed clove of garlic in a few teaspoons of olive oil until it’s golden brown. Remove the garlic if you don’t like biting into a giant piece of garlic with your meal. Sprinkle in a shake of aleppo pepper and ground sumac.  Slice the okra into coins and toss into the pan with a pinch of salt.  After about a minute of stirring, put in the zucchini, another pinch of salt, a healthy shake of black pepper.  Stir for another minute to warm the zucchini noodles through, and turn off the heat.  This literally takes no time to cook since you don’t want the zucchini to get too mushy.

If you opted for the basil, cut the basil into thin shreds and sprinkle on top.  Transfer the whole thing onto a plate and top with slices of boiled egg. If boiled egg is not your thing, this would probably be good with a fried egg.  You can even wrap the whole thing in a taco if you want some carbs.

Fruit Yogurt Pop

Fruit and yogurt pop.

I eyeballed everything and it came out fine, so I’m guessing the ratio of these things is flexible.  In a blender, I threw in: greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons honey, 8 frozen and seeded dates, frozen chopped mango, and healthy handful of blueberries. Blend it till everything looks incorporated, pour into popsicle molds, freeze for 2 hours, enjoy.  I can pretend I’m eating healthy when I’m eating these since there’s protein and fresh fruit in it, right?

ShopHouse aka Asian Chipotle

When I go to Chipotle, it’s not because I’m craving Mexican food.  Chipotle doesn’t even register on my Mexican food radar.  I go there because I’m craving Chipotle. Yes, their food is pretty generic and yes, everything tastes the same no matter what location you go to, but sometimes you just want something generic with no surprises.

So when I heard that ShopHouse, Chipotle’s Southeast Asian restaurant chain, opened a location in Hollywood, I decided I needed to pay it a visit.  The setup is familiar to anyone who’s gone to Chipotle: you pick a protein, a type of starch to have it on, some accompanying veggies, some sauce, and then some sort of extra.

Eggplant, papaya salad rice bowl from Shophouse aka Asian Chipotle.

Will had the tofu bowl on white rice (they’re quick to correct you it’s jasmine rice) with eggplant, tamarind sauce, papaya salad, and some garlic and peanuts sprinkled on top.  It was surprisingly tasty. The eggplant was charred well and to a soft texture, the papaya salad was crisp, and the sauce was flavorful.

Pork and chicken meatballs, green bean, pickled veggie, tamarind sauce from Shophouse.

I opted for the pork and chicken meatballs on half rice noodle half salad (which was just chopped napa cabbage), spicy green beans, tamarind sauce, pickled veggies, and a spoonful of garlic and peanuts.  The meatballs were tender and garlicky, the spices reminding me of my family’s bun cha.  The flavors were definitely bold, but I found it a bit on the salty side, even when I ate it with a bite of rice noodles and cabbage.  The sauce was also a tad salty, so I had to make sure I mixed everything in the bowl thoroughly before digging in.  The pickled veggies were nice and crispy with that slight pungent taste of pickled radish. My favorite part of the bowl was the charred green beans, which had a strong smoky taste and the right amount of spice.

I have to give Shophouse a hand for not shying away from strong Asian flavors like spicy and salty, even if everything I had was a little on the salty side.  For a place that supposedly cares about where they source their food and tries to provide organic options when available, the price of the bowls are not bad.  Sure, the bowls are not going to be as good as a bowl of cha gio bun from places in the SGV, but I don’t think that’s the demographic they’re marketing to.  I know that when I’m stuck somewhere not in the SGV and want some Asian-style food, I would be glad to have a Shophouse nearby.

ShopHouse
6333 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028