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Dinner Tonight: Spicy Noodles with Tofu (Dou Hua Mian)

I was in the mood for some Chinese noodles, and nothing was going to stop me. At first I settled on this recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty, and luckily had just about everything it called for: sesame paste (tahini works too), chili oil, two kinds of soy sauce, and sesame oil. Altogether it creates a shockingly quick and filling meal—there was only one problem.

The recipe calls for a garnish of Sichuan preserved vegetables. They sounded delightful but I didn't have any, nor did my local grocery store. Dunlop's recipe for them (in the same book) would have taken a whole day to prepare, so that was ruled out. I thought about leaving them out completely, but figured some kind of pickled vegetable would really help balance the thick and robust sauce. That's when I remembered this amazingly simple recipe from David Chang.

In the Momofuku cookbook, Chang notes that giving a recipe for this seems "excessive" since it "is so simple." He's right. Just combine salt and sugar with vegetables, and ten minutes later they're ready to go. I used carrots; it's what I had ready to go. It's certainly not the same as the preserved vegetables, but works extremely well with this fiercely spicy dish.

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