I found myself in Flushing, Queens the other day, to make the long subway trek back to Brooklyn after dropping off the car at a body shop. Not exactly a relaxing day out, but a quick trip to the Chinese grocery at 41st and Main Street made it a little more enjoyable. I picked up some thin egg noodles, fried tofu, and some water spinach – my favorite Chinese green vegetable. It’s a bit like regular spinach (hence the name), but when cooked it has none of the gritty spinach aftertaste. I blanched it and mixed it with ponzu sauce to go with the rest of dinner. As for the noodles, the package said they did not need any extra cooking and only needed to be mixed with about one cup of liquid, so I added a cup of water while stir-frying, and they still seem dry. I added another cup, and another, and the noodles just keep soaking it up. Next time I think I will blanch them in boiling water, no matter what the package says. They ended up being deliciously saucy and the addition of deep-fried japanese eggplant (from our favorite garden!) made it just about perfect.
Egg Noodles with Fried Tofu and Eggplant (serves 4)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 slices fresh ginger
1 package thin Chinese egg noodles
2 cups water, or more if necessary
4 japanese eggplants, cut into 4″ x 1″ strips
Oil for deep-frying
1 package ready-fried tofu, cut into 1-inch squares
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the vegetable oil on high heat in a wok until very hot. Add the garlic and ginger, stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the egg noodles, stir fry for a few minutes. Add water while continuing to stir, one cup at a time, until the noodles are tender enough. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil for deep-frying in a heavy pot. Add the eggplant strips and fry until golden, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
To finish the dish, add the remaining ingredients to the wok and heat through. Return the noodles to the wok, and stir to coat with the sauce. Top the noodles with the fried eggplant and serve immediately.
A tip: if you like your noodles extra saucy, add a bit of hoisin sauce, or whatever other sauces you have on hand.