Friday, February 20, 2009

Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry with Noodles

When P emailed to say she was coming to visit, the first thing that went through my food obsessed brain was the weekend’s menu. She’s a vegetarian and as you know, I am married to an unmatched carnivore on this side of the planet. Most meals in our house have some form of formerly living organism (mostly meat, sometimes it’s people we don’t like). So the challenge was to create dishes that would please both of them.

Knowing this, I had two things I wanted to make: Chinese and brunch with eggs. I always imagine Chinese cuisine as one that’s the most vegetarian-friendly because of their use of tofu and vegetables in dishes. More often than not, I've seen Chinese cooks willingly substitute meat for tofu and/or vegetables. After buying tofu and broccoli, I created the vegetable stir fry with noodles idea in my head and ran with it. And I am glad I did…

Tofu and Vegetable* Stir Fry with noodles

Following the package instructions boil the Chinese noodles. For mine, I brought a large pot of water to boil, stirred in the noodles, reduced the heat to medium and cooked them for 4 minutes. Drain and save some of the cooking liquid.

Stir Fry
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 package of firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup broccoli, cut into individual florets and steamed
1/2 cup Sugar snap peas, ends trimmed

1/2 cup vegetable stock (homemade preferred)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Corn Starch
Red chili flakes

While the noodles are boiling, steam the broccoli in another saucepan. To save time and utensils, broccoli can be cooked in the boiling pasta water but I prefer to cook them separately.

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a wok or a large pan on medium heat. Add cubed tofu and stir gently to coat it with oil, try to avoid breaking or shredding the tofu. The pan frying gives it a much needed firm skin (outer layer). Once it browns on one side, turn and rotate it to brown the other sides. This will take approximately 2-4 minutes.

While waiting for the tofu to brown on all sides, make the sauce by combining vegetable stock, soy sauce, rice vinegar, corn starch and red chili flakes in a separate bowl. Remove the tofu from the wok and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium high and add rest of the vegetable oil. Stir in ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in steamed broccoli, sugar snap peas (and other vegetables, if using) and cook for couple minutes. Add tofu to the wok, drained noodles and the sauce. Stir everything together so the sauce coats the vegetables, tofu and noodles. If the sauce thickens too fast or if noodles stick to the wok, add couple tablespoons of the reserved liquid. Cook for few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning using soy sauce for salt and/or red chili flakes for heat. Serve hot or warm.

*Note: Other vegetables good for this recipe are carrots, red peppers, baby corn, and mushrooms. If using additional vegetables be sure to reduce the amount of broccoli and snap peas.

The result was superb; the sautéed garlic and ginger flavors were spot on with the heat of red chili flakes. With vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, this dish is one of the better healthy, vegetarian meals that takes almost no time to prepare. (I feel like Ellie Krieger)

For medical school P has been living out of a hotel room, I have yet to figure this one out, with a microwave and a fridge. Due to lack of a proper kitchen or cooking equipment, I gave her the leftovers. The next day, I received this “could you please send me the recipe for the Chinese {food}, I was just eating it for dinner and thinking about how amazing it was again! thanks! (I could not put it down, so I just ate all of it!)” Thanks P for the rave reviews- hope you come visit again!

I guess I wasn’t the only one that liked this stir fried vegetables with noodles and tofu idea. And the carnivore deemed this a “good meat substitution meal that can be made once in a while”. I'll take that over never again.


Puja said...

I am on a quest to find this amazing recipe in restaurants, but alas no luck! This will just have to be your signature dish for vegetarians :-)

Anonymous said...

thanks! i'll be passing this one on to my veggie friends. :)

liz said...

yummy! what kind of noodles did you use?

liberal foodie said...

Puja and Stef- try it. It's simple and easy.

Liz- I used Chinese Lo Mein noodles. CAM sells them.