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.
- 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
- 2 tablespoons 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 the sugar and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in wok and stir-fry broccoli until just tender and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside. In the same wok, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the tofu cubes and stir-fry until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook another minute.
- Pour the eggs down side of wok and cook until they set. Stir to break up the egg and to mix with the tofu. Toss in the rice noodles and the pre-cooked broccoli, cooking until noodles are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stir until the noodles and other ingredients are well-coated. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lime wedges, and serve.
Adapted from Blazing Hot Wok