Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tofu noodle salad

This is my take on one of my favourite Chinese appetizers, a salad made with what I believe is dried tofu noodles. (Correct me if I'm laboring under false impressions.) I love it for the texture it has; a little chewy and rough in a good way. I've never been able to locate the exact source of the noodles, even in Chinese grocery stores (I really should ask the waitress) but I've tried it using "tofu noodles" found commonly in the states. 

Original tofu noodle salad, taken in Japan
These noodles are much softer and much less textured than the ones used in the salad (picture left) but I still like it. They're made by House and advertised as being low carb, gluten free and only 20 kcal per package. The gluten-free doesn't impress me (because tofu is not supposed to contain any wheat anyway) but 20 kcal per serving sounds like a good idea. I don't know why they call them "Tofu Shirataki" though - shirataki looks similar, but is a whole different product, made with konnyaku (konjac in English?) and has a different taste and texture. But I digress.


What you need: (per person)

1 package of Tofu "shirataki" noodles - I use the thinnest kind for this salad, but you're free to try the flat kind!
leek - about an inch and a half of the white part
1 teaspoon Chinese chicken bouillon powder
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
dash of black pepper

(optional: 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, some lettuce, some other vegetables such as cucumber or peppers)

Split your leek down the middle. And yes, I have been practicing horticulture on a small scale inside my fridge. 

Lay both side down flat, and make the thinnest slivers you can with a sharp knife. 

The thinner the better - mine aren't really ideal... I'm sure you could do better!

In a bowl, mix the leek, sesame seed oil, Chinese chicken bouillon powder and dash of black pepper. Combine well and let it sit while you get the noodles. 

Yes, I realize that chicken bouillon powder has MSG in it. But no, I would not replace it with anything else in this dish. My take on MSG is this - sure, it's not natural, but it's not necessarily evil. A bit of it (chicken bouillon powder) now and then goes a long way and it's indispensable in some Chinese dishes, those that don't involve soy sauce or oyster sauce. 

Open the package of noodles into a fine-meshed sieve and and rinse under cold water for a minute. Drain really well - leave the sieve over a bowl for a few minutes if you aren't too hungry. 

Toss with the leek mixture and serve. You can garnish it with a few lettuce leaves, or even add some other vegetables, such as cucumbers or red or green peppers - just cut them as thinly as possible, like the leeks. You can also add a small splash of vinegar, if you like sour food. I do!

If I'm not too hungry, this salad alone is enough for lunch. Otherwise, I'd serve it with any Asian food - Chinese or Japanese, usually. Itadakimasu!

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