Thai Ginger and Garlic Noodle Bowl is a flavor packed stir fry loaded with veggies swimming in a umami filled sauce. vegan + gluten Free
Before we get to this noodle bowl, I’ve a bit of a rant. Stick with me here….
A few months ago I wrote about the DARK Act (Deny American’s Right to Know). Last March, the Senate rejected it. A big sigh of relief. So I thought.
The DARK Act slipped through Congress and landed on the President’s desk, where he signed it into law last week against much opposition.
The DARK Act nullified individual States’ rights to require specific GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) labeling on food and now relies on a national system requiring labeling which will not go into effect for another two years. While the national law sounds like a good idea on the surface and I’m thrilled people want to know about the food they’re eating, the law is flawed.
We wouldn’t even be having this conversation if the U.S. were to join other developed countries that have restricted or banned GMOs.
The national label requirement can be fulfilled with printed words (hooray!), an icon developed by regulators, or in the form of a smart label, spearheaded and supported by the GMA (Grocery Manufacturing Association) on labels of food containing GMOs.
For a smart label to be read you need a smartphone, the app to read the code, and have Internet connectivity. Or, if the smart label is too much trouble, you can call a 1-800 number to obtain information about the product. I wonder how many people will be up for this cumbersome process while grocery shopping. Why not Just Label It in words?
This study indicates 36% of American adults don’t have a smartphone, leaving them in the dark with regards to this new smart label. Additionally, cell service and/or internet access is not available in all grocery stores. I run into this regularly at a store I shop.
According to The Center for Food Safety in this article, and this is what troubles me most about the new law, “allows all organic foods to be labeled “non-GMO” without any testing to see whether they contain any GMO contamination.” Cross contamination is a recurring theme (scroll down for video *this is crazymaking*) globally as GMO use continues to increase. Whereas a non-organic product undergoes rigorous testing by a third-party, like non-GMO Project, to obtain a non-GMO label.
To make matters worse, there’s confusion about the differences between non-GMO and organic among the public. Non-GMO crops are still conventional crops (sprayed with pesticides). They’ve just been verified not to have been grown with GM seeds. Whereas organic standards, in it’s most basic form, covers a sustainable way farming that excludes GMOs and “cover the product from farm to table, including soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices, and rules for food additives.”
My main issue with GMOs isn’t whether consuming them is bad for human health or not, because by-in-large we currently have a choice whether or not to reject them. My main concern is the impact on organic farmers due to cross contamination, long-term use ramifications and the irresponsible damage being done to biodiversity due to the amount of glyphosate being applied to Monsanto’s round-up ready GMO crops in addition to what’s already being sprayed on other conventional crops.
Isn’t this the same company that created DDT and Agent Orange?
Our food system is so far removed from the system my Mamaw knew, just 80 years ago. People knew how and where their food was raised. Many grew and harvested their own food or traded goods and services for it. But in our modern food system it’s increasingly more difficult to know where our food is coming from, how it’s grown, raised and processed.
While this may not seem like a big deal to some, the problem is reflected in struggling ecosystems as well as human health and is swept under the rug by slick marketing, corrupt politics, soaring corporate profit and for the sake of convenience. But small changes can turn into big changes. We just have to be mindful and get involved if we want to improve our food system. Organic farming is on the rise because consumers are demanding it. But we have to make sure our laws reflect sustainable organic farming.
Reading and learning about these issues makes me more resolved to support local farms and farmers markets as much as I can, to participate in CSAs (community supported agriculture) and organizations who advocate for a transparent and ethical food system. Shopping on the outer edges at the grocery store which is exactly what I did for this noodle bowl, and looking for bulk or packaged food labeled with both the organic label and non-GMO label (does this exist?) will be on my radar as well.
Organizations I trust for information and action alerts on this and other related issues include:
- Environmental Working Group – shares a shoppers guide to avoiding GMOs
- Organic Consumers Association
- Pew Charitable Trusts
Thai Ginger and Garlic Noodle Bowl
- 8 oz Rice Noodles or Bean Thread Noodles 227g, see note
- 11 oz Snow peas trimmed 311g
- 1 ½ Tbs Sesame Oil
- 2 tsp fresh Ginger microplaned
- 1 Tbs fresh Garlic microplaned or minced
- 1 1/2 C Carrots Julianne about two large carrots 150g
- 5 C Green Cabbage about 1/2 a medium head, cut into bite sized pieces, 400g
- 5 oz Shiitake Mushrooms stemmed and sliced into quarters 142g
For the Sauce
- Scallions chopped
- Sesame Seeds
- Thai Basil
- Drizzle of Tamari and/or Sesame Oil
For the Noodles
- Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with cold water. These can soak while you prepare the veggies and sauce. (The packages I've seen say to soak in hot water. For me, the noodles turn to mush, so I use a cold soak to soften them, then gently cook them).
For the Veggies
Fill a stock pot ½ full of water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, prepare the snow peas by trimming each end. To blanch the snow peas, carefully place them in the boiling water, turn the heat to low and blanch for for exactly two minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place back into the stock pot they were blanched in (with heat off).
For the Sauce
In a small bowl whisk the broth, sesame oil, tamari, sugar, pepper flakes and salt. Set aside.
In a large skillet or wok, heat the sesame oil on medium high heat. Once shimmering, toss in the grated ginger and garlic. Sizzle for about 30 seconds, then toss in the mushrooms, cabbage and carrots. Using two wooden spoons, stir fry until tender crisp, about 5-6 minutes. When ready, toss the stir-fried veggies into the pot with the snow peas (heat off).
Check on the rice noodles. They should be tender, but not soft. Drain thoroughly. Set the noodles near the stove. In the same skillet or wok the veggies were stir fried in, pour in the sauce. Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, gently toss in the noodles. Use a pair of tongs to twist and turn the noodles around in the sauce so that each noodle is covered. Turn the heat down continue turning, cooking for about 2 minutes. Test the noodles for taste and tenderness. If they seem tough, give them another minute to cook while turning the noodles. Remove from heat and stir in the veggies using the residual heat of the noodles to rewarm the veggies.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, thai basil, scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil and/or tamari.
I do not soak the noodles according to package directions. I've found they turn to mush if soaked in hot water, then cooked. I’ve used both bean thread and rice noodles in this recipe (rice noodles pictured). I like both but there are differences. The bean thread noodles are a bit chewier but seem to pick up the flavors of the sauce more readily than the rice noodles. Rice noodles have a nice, tender texture, but don’t pick up as much flavor. Both varieties can be soaked in cold water.
Adapted from Real Vegetarian Thai