If you’re anything like me, a quick vegetable stir-fry has been one of your “go to” meals for as long as you can remember; it’s easy to whip up in a matter of minutes, requires minimum cooking proficiency and is deliciously tasty. Speaking personally, it was actually one of the first meals I learnt how to cook – and it has remained a firm favourite since.
The problem with meals that we love so much is that we often fall into a rut and never change them up by trying something different. Suddenly inspiration struck and a recipe that packed a punch whilst being rooted in elegant simplicity came to me.
With only very few ingredients, the dish works as a medley of flavours, smells and sights. The unusual pink colour comes from soaking the noodles in beetroot juices – which provides a subtle taste but also acts as an “ingredient” for the plum sauce when eaten together.
Fried vermicelli rounds and sesame seeds add another dimension of texture in an unusual twist.
The sauce binds everything together with a sticky sweetness, and is even delicious as a dipping sauce for the crispy vermicelli. In essence, all of the ingredients are very traditional. It is the combination and fusion of techniques and tastes together that combine to make a truly delicious and rather “avant-garde” meal.
Because we have used rice noodles to make this dish, it is naturally gluten free, vegan, and very low in fat! Ideally the delicate, thin, very mild tasting noodles shouldn’t be substituted as they perfectly soak up flavour and are ideal for this dish – but if for some reason you can’t access them I would recommend using vermicelli soba (buckwheat) noodles, which are also gluten free.
Beetroot Rice noddles with Plum Sauce, Broccoli & Fried Vermicelli
A spin on traditional flavours make for a delicious & simple stir fry.
- 3 sections of dried rice vermicelli noodles
- Beetroot juices from either cooking beetroot or pre-cooked beetroot packets – just a few tsps.
- Small head of broccoli
- 2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
- Sesame Oil
For the Plum Sauce:
- 2 plums, halved and pitted
- 25g brown sugar
- 2 tsp vinegar of your choice
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- Tiny bit of grated ginger
- 40ml water (or just a splash, you can go by eye)
Cook the plum sauce
- Prep the plums by cutting them in half and removing the stones.
- In a heavy based pan, add the plums, brown sugar, vinegar, grated ginger, and water. Turn to medium heat so the mixture begins to simmer. If it is over boiling, turn the stove down to low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Leave to cook for about 20 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, move onto prepping the noodles.
- When the sauce has thickened and the plums have broken down, add the soy sauce and stir again. Remove from the heat.
- Pulse with a blender, puree, or sieve to achieve desired consistency.
Cooking noodles & accompaniments
- Begin by cooking vermicelli noodles. Since they are so thin, they barely need cooking. I simply place noodles into a bowl, heat water in a kettle and pour the boiling water over them. Stir with a fork, and after about 1 minute in the water, taste to check for doneness. Once happy, strain the noodles and place them back into the bowl.
- Take around 4 forkfuls of noodles and separate them from the rest. This is for our fried rounds, and we want to keep them unseasoned (no beetroot).
- Tip the beetroot juice over the noodles, quickly stirring to make sure all of the noodles are coated. Cover and set aside whilst cooking broccoli.
- Place a medium sized pan of boiling water over the stove. To prepare broccoli, snap into medium and equally sized florets to ensure they are all cooked at the same rate.
- For nutrition, steam broccoli over the boiling water for 4 minutes. You can also boil if preferable.
- Strain broccoli.
- To make the fried vermicelli rounds, heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Don’t wait until the pan is hot, just warm – and simply drop the noodles into a pile. You can spread them slightly with a fork. When the heat increases, they will turn golden and you can turn them over, cook on this side as well and then remove from the pan.
- Began to heat prepared plum sauce.
- Finally, add another tbsp of sesame oil into the same pan used for frying the vermicelli and turn the heat down to medium. Combine the beetroot noodles, steamed broccoli, and a handful of sesame seeds to flash fry. Add salt and pepper at this point, to your taste.
- Plate up by ladling into a bowl and drizzling the plum sauce over the top. Keep more at the side for your guests or family to add as they please, and top off with the fried vermicelli. Done!
Note: Some ideas for leftover beetroot as it is not used in this recipe: you can prepare a simple beetroot salad, a delicious beetroot poriyal (Indian stir fried beetroot with coconut), or like me, make a beetroot & chocolate cake. Recipes coming soon!