Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Thai Dragon Bowl from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook

March 2013

SmartCooks here.  Today, I went to Victoria to make some comfort food for the week.  It was a virtual tour, not a real one, although with the 20+ centimetres of snow we're getting here today, I would love to escape what's happening outside my window.  Not loving much about this winter and apologies for complaining about it incessantly.  Time to become a snowbird somewhere in a warmer climate!  

Inspired (or depressed) by the weather, I went in search of low-fat, slightly spiced bowl of soup to nourish body, mind and soul.  Thanks to a neighbour I heard about  Thai Dragon Bowl from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook. a Victoria, BC publication.  It has all those comfort ingredients I crave -- veggie (or chicken) stock, ginger, lemongrass, curry, lime, tofu, snow peas, bean sprouts, red peppers, scallions and rice noodles.  

Basically, you mix and match what you want to add to the soup stock.  I added quite a bit of stuff and kept the garnishes (cilantro and bean sprouts in my case) to sprinkle on the hot steaming bowl.  My only question mark is how long it will hold up.  I'm hoping for three meals over three days -- we'll see.  

And a big thank you to our neighbours for mentioning it.  

Rebar Modern Food Restaurant 

The recipe for Thai Dragon Bowl and the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook emanates  from a Victoria-based restaurant called the Rebar Modern Food Restaurant and Juice Bar.  Perhaps my West Coast and Saltspring Island friends have visited it!  According to their website, it first opened in 1988 to feature fresh, healthy and predominantly vegetarian fare.  

The name of the restaurant reflects the philosophy of the owners: "Just as industrial rebar gives support and strength to structures, tasty, nutritious food provides valuable support for the body and mind." It has moved locations and expanded from a juice bar over its 25 or so year history, but basically the Restaurant retains a place that:  "fuses hippy-chic neo-noir retro-fitted coolness to bring together the best of the best:  healthy, delicious food in a trendsetting atmosphere." 

I'm good with all that.

The Rebar Modern Food Cookbook 

The cooks in the restaurant collaborated to produce the "Rebar Modern Food Cookbook" which they say can be used by "anyone looking for delicious ideas with a funky twist."  Right up my alley. 

In fact, there are foodie folks who devote their blogs to systematically cooking all the book's recipes, ranging from Szechuan noodle salad with soba, avocado and cashews; peanut sauce with ginger, lime and cilantro, rosemary garlic foccacia bread to white bean hummus with roasted garlic, sage and pine nuts and pad thai with tofu, bean sprouts and roasted peanuts. And, of course, the Thai Dragon Bowl.  

The Cookbook, self-published by the staff/owners, is now as iconic as the restaurant itself.  For some photos of the cookbook classics, check out the blog on the website.  

Bonus, there's probably no snow there right now.  Husband and I just finished shovelling the first 20-25 cm that fell today.  Soup for me.  Enjoy! 

Thai Dragon Bowl 
(Inspired by and adapted from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook)


8 cups veggie stock

3 lemongrass stalks
3 T minced ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T red curry paste 
2 T brown sugar 
3 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 green chili pepper, diced 
1 red pepper, diced 
1 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1/3 lb rice or vermicelli noodles 
1/2 block extra-firm tofu 
6 oz snow peas
2 T hoisin sauce 
Large handful of shiitake mushrooms, sliced 
1 bunch scallions, minced
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced and for garnish
Bean sprouts, for garnish 


Heat the stock and add the lemongrass, ginger and garlic. Let this mixture simmer for 15 mins or so.  Remove the lemongrass stalks.  Some folks strained the stock.  I didn't.  

Stir curry paste, brown sugar, soy and hoisin into the stock and simmer for 5 mins. Add coconut milk and lime juice and continue to simmer. 

Add rice noodles, tofu, chili, mushrooms, red pepper, scallions, and tomatoes.  Cook until the noodles are tender. Add the snow peas and a few bean sprouts and cilantro. 

Serve in large bowls with slices of lime, cilantro, bean sprouts or any other garnish you would prefer. 

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