Friday, December 14, 2012

Rice Noodles with Chinese Chives and Egg

Two weekends ago Alex and I trekked down to Chinatown for lunch and groceries.  I love grocery shopping in Chinatown - everytime we go down there I come back with such an interesting assortment of goodies (like my favorite Ching Kee Cookies, which are both delicious and amusing).  During our last visit I came back with a package of fresh wide rice noodles, flowering chives, fried tofu, Thai chilis and a bunch of other fun things.  I started trying to come up with dishes to cook using those ingredients and ended up deciding to throw them all together in one noodle dish.  The biggest hurdle was trying to loosen the fresh rice noodles because mine were stubbornly stuck together.  I used a combination of the two methods noted below - soaking them in hot water and then microwaving them.  I had never heard of throwing fresh rice noodles in the microwave to loosen them, but I found a post on saying that it worked and I tried it.  It really did work.  Brilliant.  Beyond learning how to nuke fresh rice noodles, I realized a few things while cooking this meal.  The first is that I really like fried tofu.  I need to buy the packages of dried tofu more often because they are brilliant.  You totally don't need meat of any sort when you have some dried tofu in the dish.  The second is that noodles are always better with a little egg mixed in.  The third is that you really need to cut flovering chives up into slightly smaller pieces (especially if you are barely cooking them at all).  Ours were roughly 2 1/2-inches in length and that was just too long.  I'm thinking 1 to 2-inch lengths in the future.  The last thing I realized is that it takes a really long time to prep a meal like this, particularly when you decide to serve the noodles with a side of yu choy, which requires chopping.  There is a lot of chopping involved.  And when there is a lot of chopping involved, there is a lot of mess (and a lot of dishes) involved.  When Alex got home he asked me if I used every single dish in the kitchen.  The answer was close, but not quite.  But it was totally worth it because the noodles were tasty.  And in my opinion, the end (a delicious lunch) totally justifies the means.

Recipe after the jump!

Rice Noodles with Chinese Chives and Egg

12 oz fresh rice noodles
3 tbsp peanut (or vegetable) oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
2 oz fried tofu, thinly sliced
1 Thai chili, lazily seeded and thinly sliced (go ahead and remove all seeds or use a less spicy chili if you don't like spicy food)
1 large bunch flowering chives, trimmed and cut into 1 to 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped

Open the package of fresh rice noodles and either soak in hot water to loosen, or microwave the noodles for 30 second intervals, loosening them as much as possible (without tearing or ripping them) between intervals until you can separate them easily.  Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok over medium heat.  Swirl the oil around to coat.  Add the eggs and tilt the wok until the eggs form a thin layer.  Wait until the eggs are almost set, about 1-2 minutes, and then flip.  Cook just until the eggs have set and remove from the pan.  Set aside until cool enough to handle, then slice into thin strips.

Add 1 tbsp oil to the wok.  Raise the heat to medium-high.  Once the oil is hot, add the onion and stir-fry until just beginning to soften and turn a little brown around the edges, about minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened and the garlic and ginger are fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  If the wok starts to look dry at any time, add more oil.  Add tofu and chili.  Stir-fry briefly until ingredients are well-combined.  Add the noodles and reduce the heat to medium.  Stir-fry until noodles are heated through, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic chives, most of the ground peanuts (set aside about 1 tbsp peanuts as garnish) and the egg.  Stir-fry about 30 seconds to 1 minute to combine, then add in both soy sauces.  Stir-fry again until well-combined.  Garnish with cilantro and remaining peanuts.

Serve with lime wedges (if desired).

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