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.

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

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About This Recipe

Yield:4 people
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the Quick Pickled Carrots
  • 2 carrots, peeled, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Noodles
  • 1 pound firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 10 ounces dried Chinese flat noodles
  • 3 tablespoons sesame paste (or tahini)
  • 3 tablespoons chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts

Procedures

  1. 1

    For the quick pickled carrots: Slice carrots in half lengthwise, and then thinly slice crosswise. Place in medium-sized bowl with salt and sugar. Toss well with fingers, and set aside for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready, drain away any liquid that has collected.

  2. 2

    For the noodles: Fill medium-sized saucepan halfway up with water. Bring to simmer, add tofu. Cook until tofu is hot, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain tofu.

  3. 3

    Bring large pot of water to boil. Add dried Chinese flat noodles and cook according to directions on packaging, usually about four minutes. Drain noodles when done.

  4. 4

    Meanwhile, combine sesame paste (or tahini), chili oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil in large bowl. Whisk until smooth.

  5. 5

    Transfer noodles to large bowl with sauce. Toss well. Add carrots, tofu, peanuts, and scallions. Serve immediately.

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