Here’s a lovely savory recipe that’s easy to pull together and also happens to be vegan. It has a base of warm rice noodles, which I tossed in a sauce made from caramelized scallions, red chili flakes, and toasted sesame oil. Soy sauce adds salt and umami flavor, while a touch of brown sugar gives the noodles the sticky deliciousness of take-out noodles. I topped the noodles with battered and fried tofu inspired by chicken katsu. This dish is pure comfort food!
I tested a new way of breading and frying that didn’t involve eggs. It turns out that mustard mixed with a little water works just as well and adds an interesting and unexpected depth of flavor, so I’d definitely recommend this method if you’re vegan. However, if you’re not vegan, I’d suggest sticking with eggs since they’re much more neutral in flavor. I’d also suggest using breaded chicken or ground pork if you’re not a fan of tofu (though it’s really good if you make it well!).
Spicy Scallion Noodles with Fried Tofu
- 1 lb extra firm tofu
- 2 eggs for non-vegan option
- ¼ cup mustard for vegan option
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- 7 oz stir-fry rice noodles
- ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup thinly-sliced scallions white and green parts, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- Quick-cooking greens like kale or spinach
- Press the tofu: Line a plate with towels, add the tofu, place another plate on top of the tofu, and stack heavy objects (such as cookbooks) on the plate to press out as much water as possible. Alternatively, use a tofu press if you're a fucking nerd. Leave the tofu to press for at least 15 minutes while you work on the rest of the recipe.
- Make the noodles: Boil water and cook the noodles according to the package instructions.
- Make the sauce: While the noodles cook, heat the sesame oil in a skillet until extremely hot but not smoking. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, add the scallions and chili flakes, and fry until deeply caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the cornstarch, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Stir-fry until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove to a separate bowl.
- Bread the tofu: Remove the tofu from it's torture contraption and slice into ¼" thick slices. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl or, for the vegan option, add the mustard to a bowl and thin with warm water until it's the consistency of creamy soup. In a separate bowl, mix together all the ingredients from all-purpose flour through paprika. Coat each piece of tofu in egg or mustard mixture and then dredge in the dry mixture.
- Fry the tofu: Heat oil in a skillet until very hot. Add the breaded tofu and fry over medium to medium-high heat until browned and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per side. You will probably need to work in batches.
- Assemble: When the tofu is done, remove from pan and add whatever quick-cooking greens you like. Sauté until wilted, then add the rice noodles and sauce. Stir-fry until well-combined, glossy, and heated through. Serve with fried tofu and additional scallions on top.