Bok Choy Agar Noodles

This post is part of a larger series devoted to a Molecular Gastronomy focused meal I made: Molecular Gastronomy with an Asian Twist. Other posts in this series include Spherification (making “caviar”Pho Inspired Grilled Steak with Mint, Cilantro, and Lime, and Sweet Basil Pesto with Rice NoodlesPlaying with molecular gastronomy is fun, although things can get a bit wacky at times.

Like these crazy bok choy “noodles,” for example.

Admittedly, making my own “caviar” using spherification was by far the “nerdiest” thing I did this past weekend. Nevertheless, I would give these green noodles a close second.

Here’s the back story. As part of my original proposal to Foodbuzz for this Foodbuzz 24, 24 meal, I had promised to make bok choy “noodles” as part of a larger, molecular interpretation of a deconstructed Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Funny thing is, I really had no idea how I was going to make these. I find that I often like to invent absurd and overly ambitious meals in my head, sometimes promising to deliver them without really thinking things through.

It bites me back sometimes when my fantastic proposals actually get accepted and I have to deliver.

Thankfully, the internet is full of solutions, and my friends had given me a nice, big bag of fun powders to try.

At the end of the day, under the pressure of time, I was actually able to deliver a meal that came surprisingly close to my original proposal.
This “deconstructed Taiwanese beef noodle soup” begins with the baby bok choy, a common vegetable used as the “green” part of a beef noodle soup. I decided to mix up the shapes and flavors, making the bok choy into a noodle instead.
I blended up a couple small stalks of bok choy and a small shallot in some dashi broth in the blender.
Heat up the bok choy “soup” with some agar agar, a red algae based gelatin.
Pour out the solution into appropriately-shaped containers. Since I was trying to make noodles, I tried to put them into square containers. Let set at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Remove from containers, and slice!
Though they look sort of like noodles, the texture is pretty different. It’s kind of soft, breaks easily, and (frankly), isn’t nearly as good as a real wheat-based noodle.

I think this recipe works better for making interesting vegetable “pates” or “terrines.”

Nevertheless, it’s a cool way to make some interesting, gluten-free noodles which incorporate any flavor you might want. I’m sure this would work with all sorts of other vegetables, such as arugula, basil, spinach, or maybe even carrots!

Bok Choy Agar “Noodles”
7 oz bok choy
1 small shallot
3.2g agar agar powder
1/4 cup broth (I used dashi)
salt to taste
dash of sugar

Blend together bok choy, shallot and broth together until a fine puree forms. Heat 200g of the bok choy liquid with agar agar until boiling and agar agar is dissolved. It will become much thicker. Pour into a level, square surface up to about 1/2 inch thick and let cool for at least 1 hour.

Slice up into “noodles” and serve.


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