Recipe: Modified from "Tofu Noodle and Vegetable Salad (Liang Ban Qian Si)" from "Asian Tofu" by Andrea Nguyen.
Rating: Great. Quick and Easy.
Status: Made once.
Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish
This dish is a popular cold appetizer in Taiwanese restaurants; since it has been made ahead of time, it comes quickly to the table and makes a good dish to snack on while waiting for a meal. The "noodles" are actually firm tofu which as been cut into a noodle shape; they add a bouncy texture to the appetizer and noodle shaped things seem to be almost universally appealing. The vegetables primarily add color. The dish is seasoned simply with just sesame oil, sugar, and salt so the dish tastes mainly like tofu, which is a good thing for those that enjoy tofu.
The last time I used my Benriner Japanese mandoline to make julienne vegetables I cut my finger (it is easy to do), so I bought a new julienne tool, a Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler. It is a handheld peeler similar to a vegetable peeler. To use it, I used a fork to stab the top of the vegetable, and slid the tool down the vegetable. I'm very happy with it, since it is quick and safer than a mandoline.
New May Wah Supermarket in San Francisco has them). Packages for tofu noodles keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. The secret to making the tofu noodles bouncy is to gently separate them and then boil them in light salted water, similarly to pasta, for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Without briefly boiling them, the tofu noodles tend to be brittle, even if you stir fry it; boiling it refreshes, revitalizes, and restores its springiness.
Both the vegetables and the noodles should be cut into strands around 4 inches long, though they don't need to be uniform or exactly this length; just short enough so they are easy to stir and eat.
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk of celery
- (optional) 1/4 to 1/2 of a red bell pepper
- 1 8 oz package of tofu noodles
- 1-1/2 Tbsp sesame oil, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp sugar, plus more to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
Julienne the carrot, celery stalk, and (if using) bell pepper into thin strands about 4 inches long, similar in thickness to the noodles. If you don't have a julienne peeler or mandonline to julienne the vegetables, then you can use a regular vegetable peeler to make thin vegetable strips.
Loosen the tofu noodles from each other. If they tangle together when you try to lift a clump of noodles, cut the noodles shorter using a pair of scissors to make a few random cuts into the noodles until they don't get tangled together when you lift them up (though they should still be in long noodle strands).
Boil 8 oz of tofu noodles and the julienned vegetables in salted boiling water for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain the cold water well and gently squeeze the noodle mixture to help remove additional water.
Place noodles in a bowl. Season to taste with sesame oil, sugar, and salt (start with about 1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt). Let sit for 10 minutes. Eat at room temperature; also good eaten cold.
After 10 minutes my noodle mixture had let out some extra liquid; since this is supposed to be a dry dish I poured the extra liquid out, and adjusted the noodles for the lost seasoning. This dish would also probably be nice with a little hot chili oil drizzled in.