Aromatic Noodle Stir-fry with Sesame-Toasted Tofu

Serves 4

Visits to Hong Kong have instilled a love for – and understanding of – noodle dishes, and inspired this recipe. While taking more than a couple of liberties in terms of mixing western and oriental ingredients, it’s everything that excellent Chinese cuisine should be: a harmony of colour, flavour and texture.

200g dried egg noodles or rice noodles
20ml (4 teaspoons) sesame oil
3-4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 red or yellow pepper, cored and very finely sliced
15ml (1 tablespoon) scraped and finely chopped fresh ginger
60ml (4 tablespoons) soy sauce
10ml (2 teaspoons) fish sauce
10ml (2 teaspoons) brown sugar
30g rocket leaves
30ml (2 tablespoons) shredded mint leaves
30ml (2 tablespoons) shredded basil leaves
30ml (2 tablespoons) sesame seeds, roasted in a dry frying pan

Sesame-Toasted Tofu
200g firm tofu
1 egg white, lightly beaten
125ml (½ cup) sesame seeds
vegetable oil

Pour boiling water over the noodles in a bowl and set aside for about 2 minutes to soften. Drain well in a colander.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium frying pan, add the spring onions and pepper, and stir-fry until softened. Add the ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce and brown sugar, then stir in the drained noodles, rocket, mint and basil. Stir-fry until the rocket is limp and everything is piping hot.

Sesame-Toasted Tofu Slice the tofu into batons, dip in egg white, then roll in sesame seeds. Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the tofu on all sides until the seeds have crisped; this should only take a minute or two.

To Serve Pile the noodles into bowls, top with sesame-toasted tofu and scatter over the reserved roasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead
Prepare all the ingredients and sizzle this dish up just before you serve it; it loses all its appeal if it has to stand around for any length of time.

Posh Tip Choose firm tofu for cooking; soft, silken tofu is too fragile. Store uncooked tofu in the fridge for up to a week, covered with water. Change the water daily.

Posh Quaffing
Soy in various forms – bean curd and sauce – with sesame suggest rice wine, but its mouth-puckering medicinal character overwhelms. A flinty dry white based on either of the rieslings – ‘Cape’ or the real McCoy – keeps the palate fresh. The mousse of a decent bubbly also lifts this oriental dish.

Tofu, also known as soy bean curd, is made from ground, cooked soy beans. It seems rather bland and characterless, yet tastes slightly nutty and has the happy knack of taking on the flavours of the dish it’s in. The good news is that it’s high in protein and cholesterol free.

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