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Low Mein with Tofu

One of our favorite Chinese dishes has been something called “Dried Tofu with Pork,” and another dish our now defunct restaurant called “Delicate Chicken.” This latter was code that the waitress used mostly for just us as the dish was only offered in the Chinese portion of the menu. We often do the “look and see what people are getting and ask for it” trick and have ended up with all sorts of wonderful and interesting things not on the English menus. When we asked for a translation the waitress looked at the 20 or so characters of Chinese, paused and made up the name for us on the spot. It was a delicious dish with the strips of hearty and chewy tofu, chicken, bright green edamame, mixed veggies and some hot pepper. Ever since, I’ve tried all sorts of tofu found at our regular stores, but nothing has held up to the chew of the stuff from the restaurants.

The packaging

The Unopened Package

Just Monday, I found myself at the Renton Uwajimaya, our local Asian chain store, and remembered to look for the tofu. After going through the regular tofu section and finding plenty of beautiful bean curd in all firmnesses as well as the brands I see at PCC, I decided to ask someone in the store for help. The first clerk seemed clueless, but she asked someone else who appeared to understand what I was talking about. She called it “Taiwanese style stew curd.” I followed her to the refrigerated Kim Chee and pickle section. She picked up a package and frowned a little saying there were other brands at the store in Seattle, but she thought this was what I was looking for. I eagerly brought it home for Tuesday’s dinner.

So here’s what I made with the Stew Bean Curd.

Dave’s Low Mein, Adapted (Vegan and Gluten Free)

One package Seaweed Noodles
four carrots–sliced into tiny matchstick pieces
one large onion–sliced into thin half rounds
six stalks celery–sliced thin
a half cup or so cloud ear mushrooms, before re-hydrating
one package edamame–par boiled
1/4 slivered almonds, toasted
one package stew bean curd–cut into matchstick slices
1/4 C Hoisin Sauce
1/4 C brown bean sauce
4 cloves garlic–I use a press, mincing is fine too
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil for frying (I use peanut, but canola would be okay, too)

The tofu cut into matchstick pieces.

Get all the veggies chopped and place in one bowl. (If you have bok choy or other cabbage like veggie, it would be fine to add that in as well). Mix the Hoisin, brown bean, garlic, soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water and sugar together in a bowl. Prep the seaweed noodles (or you can use soba, whole wheat, or rice noodles–just cook so they won’t be mushy after being reheated.) by soaking in warm water and cutting with scissors, drain in colander.

Place the bowls next to the stove with the veggies first, the sauce next, then the edamame, tofu and noodles.

Heat a wok to high and add the oil. When the oil is hot, toss in all the veggies and stir fry until they are coated in the oil. Once they are fully coated, turn down the heat and cover with lid. Stir regularly until they are soft and wilted. Watch closely so they don’t burn. When the veggies are how you like them, add the sauce and bring to a boil by increasing the heat. Add the edamame and let it cook a minute. Add the tofu, let it cook another minute. Add the noodles and stir fry on high until they are covered in the sauce and everything is evenly distributed. Put on a platter and garnish with the almonds. If you don’t have almonds, don’t make the dish. Well, go ahead, but that little crunch is truly the kicker.

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