this weekend was lunar new year. bye bye 🐒, hello 🐓. it's a fire rooster year (and was a fire monkey year). the fire rooster favors the bold and opinionated so i wanted to do something spicy and different to celebrate the new year with food. i made a riff on one of my favorite noodle dishes in denver - zoe ma ma's dan dan mian. it's usually made with ground pork but i've been trying to eat less meat. so i'm adding some extra veggies and subbing out ground pork for frozen then unfrozen tofu. my little sister has been vegetarian since 2003 and my mom used to do this at our house for spaghetti. so why not this? there are a lot of ingredients and it seems super overwhelming but the recipe is simple once you get going. —Lauren Elizabeth Wiper
firm or extra firm tofu
shallots, chopped and fried (you can buy these pre-fried at international supermarkets)
amino acids, soy sauce, or tamari (i use amino acids)
chinese five spice
rice wine vinegar
sichuan peppercorn or other chili oil (use less if you're really sensitive to spice)
ground black pepper
salt - to taste
cloves garlic, minced
nice olive oil, plus more for frying shallots
hard boiled eggs, peeled (omit if vegan)
egg noodles, cooked (you can sub rice or rice noodles if gluten free)
if your shallots are not pre-fried, in a cast iron skillet over high heat add in nice olive oil and the shallots. salt a bit and fry the shallots. remove shallots from the pan once fried and crispy.
to prep the tofu, i freeze it in its package then unfreeze it. once mostly thawed i open it over a colander in the sink and it basically crumbles into a ground beef like substance. i wash it under warm water and set aside to drain.
in the same pan you fried the shallots in over medium heat add 2 tsp olive oil and add the ground tofu. season with some salt and the pepper and cook for a minute or so by itself. now add in the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and chili oil - mix. after another minute next, add the brown sugar, chinese five spice, and garlic. and mix again.
now in a separate bowl, combine the warm water with the sesame tahini. once combined pour over the tofu mixture and reduce to a simmer. cover and cook for at least one hour. with about 30 minutes left, poke a few fork holes in the peeled hard boiled eggs and add them in so they soak up a bit of the sauce.
to serve, ladle sauce over cooked egg noodles and add blanched baby bok choi, shredded fresh carrots, the hard boiled egg and scallions. also peanuts if you want them.