The aromas of ginger and garlic took over my little yellow kitchen after making a ginger and garlic couscous topped with an Asian vegetable stir fry, which sat upon seasoned ground tofu. A mixture of bok choy, portobello mushrooms, and diced organic yellow bell pepper pieces were topped with a slightly spicy sauce made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and minced ginger. All of the flavors and textures combined to create this perfectly balanced couscous dish.
While I was making tonight’s stir fry recipe, I couldn’t help but think of the CousCous Cafe. Like this Asian dish, that meal also promised a unique blend of flavors and textures. It was a night that I haven’t ever forgotten. A night that included too many glasses of red wine, tender chicken tagine served with apricots, girlish banter, and the night of my first Moroccan meal, as well as my first time trying couscous.
The atmosphere was just as memorable as the meal. The place was cozy. After coming down a set of concrete stairs adjacent to the sidewalk, we were surrounded by tiny patio-like tables for two, colorful lanterns that hung from the ceiling, and light conversation.
Thinking about that night, now, is bittersweet. I miss the charming cafe, London, traveling, and Paris with its deadly pain au chocolat. That overseas trip took place in the spring of 2009. It was then that I was inspired to find a way to leave my awful corporate job in search of a career I was more passionate about. This is a decision that has forever changed my life and while I have a new career, I can’t help but think about my end goal which is to have my own food establishment (possibly a vegan bakery?). I’m not sure yet, I just know that I never feel more alive than when I work with food. I love serving it to people, cooking and baking it, and the satisfaction from tasting something delicious.
It all comes back to food. You have the CousCous Cafe to thank for this rambling post about charming restaurants, favorite meals, and inspiration. Think back to a time when you had a deliciously indescribable meal at a restaurant. Where were you? What were you eating? What made the meal amazing? Read on for the recipe for ginger couscous topped with an Asian stir fry.
Ingredients for ginger couscous:
*Serves 2-4 (with the stir fry) / cook and prep time: about 10 minutes
1 cup of whole grain couscous
1 tbsp of sesame oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 tsp of ginger, diced or grated
1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/4 to 1/2 of an organic bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup of scallions, sliced
1- Boil 1 cup of water in a pot. As soon as the water begins boiling, add the couscous, ginger, garlic, and spices. Take it off the heat. Stir it and then let it sit with the cover on for about 5 minutes.
2- Meanwhile, dice the bell pepper and scallions. As soon as the couscous is done, fluff it with a fork and stir in the scallions and bell pepper. Top with stir fry mixture.
Ingredients for the Asian stir fry with the vegan crumble topping:
*cook and prep time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp of sesame oil (1 tablespoon for the tofu crumble and another for the veggie mixture)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 package of original Lightlife’s Smart Ground Original Crumbles
1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 head of baby bok choy, sliced into 1 inch pieces (and about 1/4 inch pieces for the thick white stem)
1/2 of an organic bell pepper, diced small (about 1/4 inch pieces)
1 portobello mushroom, diced small
1/2 tsp of ginger, grated or minced
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes, black pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 tsp of sesame seeds
1 tbsp of hoisin sauce
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1- Heat one tablespoon of sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Then dice the yellow onion. Add it to the frying pan. Let it soften and then add the crumbles. Break them up. Add the spices and take the mixture off of the heat after its started to brown.
2- After removing the crumbles from the pan, add the rest of the sesame oil to the pan. Dice the garlic clove and then add it to the pan. While the garlic is heating, chop the bok choy. Add it to the frying pan as soon as the garlic begins to brown around the edges.
3- Chop the mushroom and bell pepper. Add those to the pan with the spices and sesame seeds. Grate some ginger and throw that in too.
4- When the veggie mixture begins to soften, but the peppers are still slightly crisp, add the soy and hoisin sauce. Stir and then take it off the heat. Serve the stir fry vegetables on top of the crumbles and couscous. Enjoy!
Feel free to share any of your favorite stir fry or couscous recipes below.