Thanks to Kim, I have been touched by the noodly appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bobby Henderson's brilliant response to the Kansas School Board. I received my Flying Spaghetti Monster T-shirt yesterday and in his honor I made this for dinner:
Ok, so it isn't spaghetti but it is very noodly--Korean Chap Chae with tofu. Unlike a lot of Korean food this one is very mild--no hot peppers and just a small amount of garlic. It is noodly comfort food which is what I needed yesterday as I have come down with the dreaded summer cold and in particular a sore throat. Nothing like bean thread noodles for slipping down easily. If you are not under the weather, you could punch this up by serving it with a good cucumber salad and some fiery Kim Chee. And the recipe is easy enough that you can still make it even when feeling less than capable in other areas (say, child rearing and maintaining a hygienic atmosphere in which said children are currently living).
Chap Chae with Tofu
1 big cake of firm tofu
some soy, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic for marinating tofu
1 T vegetable oil
6 oz bean thread noodles
1/2 C good soy sauce
3 T Asian sesame oil
3 T sugar
1 T chopped garlic
1 T vegetable oil
1 1/2-2 C onions, sliced lengthwise
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced (go for Shitake if your budget allows, if not plain old white will do just fine)
4 C baby spinach
Cut up the tofu into cubes and put in a tupperware--douse with a reasonable quantity of soy, a dash of vinegar, 1 decent sized diced clove garlic, and some ginger (powdered or fresh). Put on the lid and shake gently to coat. Pop in the fridge and let marinate as long as you want. Give it a toss every now and then.
Soak noodles in a bowl of warm water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cook noodles in boiling water until just tender--about 1 minute--then dump in a colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. You don't want the noodles fully cooked because then they won't absorb the sauce well when stir fried.
Blend soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and garlic in a blender until smooth.
Heat oil in a deep 12 inch heavy skillet and saute onion and carrot until softened (about 3 minutes), add mushrooms and stir fry until softened and most of their liquid has evaporated (another 3 minutes or so), add spinach and stir fry until it is wilted. Add noodles and soy sauce mixture and stir it all up. Simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the noodles and/or evaporated (you don't want it soupy).
Meanwhile, drain the marinated tofu. Heat a T of vegetable oil in a nonstick pot and when hot, chuck the tofu in the oil (it will splatter so hold a lid like a shield to protect yourself from flying droplets). Let one side sort of firm up and crisp a bit before stirring it up. When fried up to your taste (I am way too lazy to make sure each side of a cube of tofu is cooked until crisp), scoop the tofu out of the pan and drain a bit on a paper towel.
Transfer noodles to a shallow serving bowl (necessary because all the spinach and carrots and stuff will have sunk to the bottom of your frying pan) and top with tofu. Serve warm or at room temperature.