Friday, May 18, 2012

Pan-fried Noodles with Senposai and Tofu

It was pretty exciting to be able to eat dinner at home tonight and last (that post is going to have to wait until later).  Work has been crazy enough that I ate at my desk Monday and Tuesday and made Alex meet me for dinner on Wednesday.  So I refused to go out to dinner tonight, even though we didn't seem to have enough ingredients to make a meal.  Every dish I thought of required a trip to the grocery.  And then it occurred to me that I had some Hong Kong style noodles in the fridge so we could make pan-fried noodles.  The only problem with that plan was that we didn't have any proteins defrosted (aside from a skirt steak that I am saving for our attempt at rhubarb ketchup tomorrow), nor did we have our usual cache of canned vegetables for stir-fry.  And then I thought of the tofu, senposai and green garlic (both from the farmers' market) we had in the fridge.  So I decided that we could make a vegetarian pan-fried noodles - fry the tofu to get it nice and crispy and golden brown, stir-fry the senposai with the green garlic and voila!  For a dish that we essentially made up as we went along, it turned out really really well.  I thought the oyster sauce and sugar gave the dish a nice sweet, but savory and rich flavor.  There were a lot of different textures and tastes here that worked really well together.  I was worried that the dish would need a little something extra to give it flavor so I brought out some chili oil and Chinese chili paste, but it really didn't need it.  

Recipe after the jump!

Pan-fried Noodles with Senposai and Tofu

For noodles:
1-2 tbsp peanut oil
1 (16 oz.) package Hong Kong style noodles (you don't need the whole package - we used about 2/3)
For tofu:
1-2 tbsp peanut oil
1 block firm tofu, cut in half
2 tsp soy sauce
For senposai:
1 tbsp peanut oil
2 green garlic stalks, white parts, thinly sliced (or 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced)
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb senposai, rinsed and still very damp (spinach would work too)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp sugar
s&p to taste
1 tsp of corn starch
1 tbsp of water

Heat a 10-inch nonstick pan over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat.  Add noodles and spread out into a thick layer.  The noodles will brown very quickly.   Use a pair of chopsticks or a spatula to make sure the noodles are getting browned evenly, flipping once.  If you need to, use the spatula to press the noodles against the pan or add some more cooking oil if the pan gets dry.  Transfer the noodles to a plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a wok over medium-high heat until screaming hot. Add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat the bottom.  The oil should be hot enough to shimmer.  Add tofu to the hot oil carefully (it will spatter) in batches and fry until golden brown.  If the tofu starts to stick or the wok looks dry, add additional oil.  Once tofu is golden brown on both sides, after about 2-3 minutes total, remove from the wok and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.  After the last batch of tofu has been fried, return tofu to the wok and toss with soy sauce.  Remove tofu from wok and set aside.

Swirl 1 tbsp peanut oil into the wok.  Add the green garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds.  Add the damp greens and stir-fry for 1 minute, until leaves are beginning to wilt.  Add oyster sauce, water and sugar.  Lower the heat to medium and allow the greens to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the corn starch slurry to the wok and cook until sauce begins to thicken.

Top the fried noodles with greens.  Top with tofu.  Pour the sauce over the noodles and serve.

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