My search for quick vegetarian dishes continues. Going out 3 nights in a row with our vegetarian friends from London has convinced me that while it’s a bit inconvenient to go meatless in China, it’s not impossible. While I’m not considering becoming a strict vegetarian, my conscience dictates that eating more vegetable and grains and having meat only once or twice a week is better for good ol’ planet Earth. (The conscience thing I can blame on Fast Food Nation, this Michael Pollan article, and having lived in gentrified Brooklyn, which probably has the highest concentration of vegetarians outside India and San Francisco.)
Pad See-Ew is a Thai noodle dish that can be made with meat or without. (Some people call it Thai-Chinese, because the technique of stir-frying noodles came from Chinese immigrants.) It’s a lot like the Cantonese chow hor fun, with thicker sauce and the addition of egg. I have had it countless times in Thai restaurants, but never thought to make at home until I came across Blazing Hot Wok’s recipe from earlier this year. This dish has fewer ingredients than Pad Thai and is easier to make, perfect for those lazy “crap, I’m starving but my fridge is practically empty” days.
If you don’t have omnivore guilt like I do, feel free to throw in chicken, pork, even shrimp. BHW emphasizes that the main ingredient is mushroom-flavored soy sauce, which can be found in Chinese markets (I believe Lee Kum Kee) makes one. However, I’ve found that soaking dry shiitake mushrooms in soy sauce for about an hour, while periodically squeezing the juices out, gives a similar umami effect. If you’re using flat rice noodles instead of fresh, soak them for about 20 minutes to soften before stir-frying.
Like this noodle recipe? Try some others:
Adapted from Blazing Hot Wok
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
1/2 cup light mushroom-flavored soy sauce, store bought or homemade (see last paragraph above. If using a dark soy sauce, use half as much)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Splash(s) of peanut or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 block tofu, cubed
2 eggs, beaten
1 to 2 cups Chinese broccoli florets (or substitute regular broccoli)
1 pound fresh flat rice noodles, or 8 ounces dry flat rice noodles
Lime wedges, for garnish
In a small bowl mix together the 2 soy sauces and sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar and set aside.
Heat oil in wok and stir-fry broccoli until just tender and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. In the same wok, add a bit more oil. Add tofu cubes and stir-fry until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook another minute.
Pour eggs down side of wok and cook until they set. Stir to break up egg and to mix with tofu. Toss in rice noodles and pre-cooked broccoli, cooking until noodles are softened, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and stir until noodles and other ingredients are well coated. Scoop onto plate(s), garnish with lime wedges, and serve.