Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Udon noodles with black bean sauce

So I was trying to recreate a dish that I order at Saigon Cafe--udon noodles in a black bean sauce with fried tofu. Holy crap, it is so delicious. I get that and a bubble tea for lunch and I'm pretty happy. Anyway, what I made at home the other day is absolutely NOTHING like the inspiration...but I think it turned out OK anyway. I was just experimenting and it ended up being pretty tasty. I guess Saigon Cafe has some kind of deal with the devil over there, not to mention a whole lot of authentic thai and vietnamese cooks in the kitchen.

First I fried up some tofu as usual. For the record--I actually like un-fried tofu just fine. Brian has texture issues so he prefers it fried up. Soon he will have fat issues if he doesn't watch it. Heated about 4 tablespoons canola oil in a heavy pot until sizzly, added 1 block of extra-firm tofu that had been cut up into 1" chunks (I have covered this issue before--the more you dry off your tofu the better it will fry up. I didn't dry it very well this time). Just tossed it all into the hot oil and let it brown on one side for about 3 minutes, then flipped all the pieces for total tofu-surface browning. Turned off the heat and drained all the oil (or as much as possible), then returned the pot to the stove and added 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and a little soy sauce, stirred it with the browned tofu over medium-high heat until the sauces made a shiny glaze, then removed all the tofu to a dish and set aside. I ended up just using the same pot to boil up 1 1/2 cups water and dropped in 2 packets of udon noodles. I don't know how other people find these. I find mine at the DeKalb Market, in the refrigerated section, right next to the miso & other Japanese products. They are a brand that claims in english to be "the best noodle!" but the rest of the packaging is in Japanese characters so I can't read it. Maybe Alan could. They come with a packet of soup mix that is really salty. Udon noodles are big, soft, thick noodles that are ususally packaged fresh and don't need more than 3 minutes of cooking. Soba noodles are a good substitute. Anyway, I boiled them in less water than normal and went ahead and added the salty soup mix that comes with. In a wok, I sauteed 1 clove minced garlic, then poured in the noodles and their cooking liquid. I let the liquid reduce down, then stirred in 2 tablespoons black bean paste. Then I tossed in the tofu and mixed everything up well. After about 1 minute, I added 1 head of thinly sliced baby bok choy (including both green & white parts). After this got wilty (another 1 to 2 minutes), I took everything off heat and we ate it then drank a lot of chardonnay while cleaning the apartment.

(Note to survivalists: If you wanted to make something like this in the wilderness, you get some tofu and black bean paste from your trip into town to the one organic grocery store, also picking up fresh green beans or snow peas, if they have them. Also get a can of water chestnuts if you can find them. Ask the meth-addled townie behind the register to locate them for you. Then you would saute the green beans along with the garlic to get them a little browned but still crunchy, then add drained water chestnut along with the fried tofu. I don't know what you do about the udon noodles! Maybe you can use any other type of pasta or even ramen? It would be different but still pretty good, I bet.)

1 comment:

j.bird said...

you have an odd definition of survivalism. this is, of course, one of your many charms.