welcome to the year of the rooster 🐓 + tofu dan dan mian
this weekend was lunar new year. bye bye 🐒, hello 🐓. it's a fire rooster year (and was a fire monkey year) which is fitting. i've been calling my life a dumpster fire for the last few weeks. why you may ask? i tore my mcl (maybe acl), the windows of our house were bashed in, our country is in some state, and i've been in a general creative funk. so i need to make some changes. and while the roman new year has come and past, i fully intend to make the most of the lunar one. with this new year i want to focus on bringing the rooster energy in. it favors the bold, the opinionated, the true to themselves. i'm gonna be that. here's a few of my resolutions:
- take more pictures, especially film of the black and white kind
- take better pictures of the food i make for this blog instead of forgetting and immediately devouring my creation
- collaborate with my mom more (if you don't know she's a baby genius dietician who teaches cooking classes in my hometown)
- get out of the country at least twice
- drink less
- focus on the people in my life, not the things
that's a start to my ideas. let's see where they go and how it evolves over the course of the year. 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 overwhelming but the recipe is simple once you get going.
- block firm or extra firm tofu, frozen and then thawed
- 1/3 cup shallot, chopped
- 3 tbsp amino acids, tamari or soy sauce (i use amino acids)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp chinese five spice
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame tahini
- 2 tbsp sichuan peppercorn or other chili oil (i used laoganma fried chili in oil bc it has peanuts already)
- 1 tsp pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups warm water
- olive oil for cooking
- 1 hard boiled egg, peeled, per person (omit if vegan)
- 1 lb cooked egg noodles (sub rice or rice noodles if gluten free)
- shredded fresh carrots
- blanched baby bok choi
- chopped scallions, optional
- chopped peanuts, optional
- 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.
- 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.
we ate these guys with pot stickers and this meal was so yummy i had to tell myself to stop. something about umami and noodles makes me want to keep slurping them up. however, i recommend checking out whole foods new mochi bar (the passionfruit ones are bomb.com) to have an incentive to leave a bit of room.