Monday, February 8, 2021

Tofu Hakka Noodles

Tofu Hakka Noodles are a take out meal made better at home. Snow peas, carrots, peppers and onions marry with marinated tofu and chewy hakka noodles in a sweet, sour and savoury sauce for a meal that can be on the table in under an hour.

Throughout the last year or so, N and I began getting takeout from one of my local small restaurants in lieu of "dining out" for date nights. Luckily, this restaurant has managed (so far) to survive with delivery and curbside pick up, and we are happy to support them when we want something "special". One of the meals N always picks when we order (we get extra, 'cause leftovers) is Chicken Hakka Noodles - springy, yellowy noodles stir fried with veggies and chunks of chicken in a ginger-garlic sauce. The noodles soak up the flavour as they sit, and as like most Chinese food it tastes better after hanging out overnight in the fridge.

Of course, restaurant food like this is often pretty heavy with oil and lacking in veggies, and I was really interested in seeing if I could make a version of N's favourite noodles at home with some of his favourites, including snow peas and tofu. I'm lucky enough to have a few international grocers near work where I could pick up any ingredients I was missing (noodles and tofu, this time) for an insanely good price, and with N's help we sliced, julienned, cubed, tossed and whisked until we had a bright, flavourful pan of perfectly seasoned and sauced stir-fry. I'm always a little tickled that both N and my mom (who shared the meal and leftovers with him) pick tofu over meat most times they have the chance to, since when I first started cooking for them both tofu was a rather maligned ingredient! 

One of my favourite things about this recipe is that it is so variable in terms of additions. I had fresh veggies on hand this time, but a good frozen stir-fry mix is perfect (and affordable) too. By making sure the ingredients are julienned or diced, you can ensure the whole recipe is lightning fast and ready to go. If you do the tofu ahead of time (I often batch-marinate when I buy the blocks because they're large enough for multiple recipes) you can have everything done in an hour. Even if you don't marinate the tofu, this stir fry has enough flavour to get away with it! 

Cooking for N and I has become part of our "date night" routine, and I love it! How do you connect with others during these times? Have you tried to recreate any restaurant dishes at home? Let me know in the comments!

Notes about the recipe: Dark soy sauce is thicker and slightly sweeter than regular soy sauce. If you substitute, you may need to add a pinch of sugar. Hakka noodles are thin, springy, bright yellow noodles that are usually sold like fresh pasta in plastic packages. If you can't find them, substitute cooked spaghetti or even ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet). The Schezuan pepper is optional, but awesome in this recipe. Add any other veggies you like or want - the ones I chose are more traditional in take out here.

Tofu Hakka Noodles
Serves 8-10
1 1/4 lbs extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, drained and pressed
1 tsp black pepper 

~2 lbs fresh hakka noodles (the yellow, thin ones - I used Culinasian brand, but Ching's Secret is also good)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, julienned
2 large bell peppers, julienned
12 oz snow peas, julienned
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp minced garlic (about 6 large cloves)
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground Schezuan pepper
  1. Combine tofu, dark soy and black pepper in a small dish and marinate 1-2 hours, stirring to evenly coat. Drain and set aside.
  1. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 3 minutes, then drain and toss with a bit of canola oil.
  2. Whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and tofu and cook 3 minutes. Cover the pan and let carrots steam 5 minutes.
  5. Add the bell peppers and stir through, followed by the noodles and the sauce.
  6. Cook, tossing thoroughly, for 2 minutes, then add the snow peas and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more.
  7. Serve immediately.

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