Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crispy Mai Fun with Five Spice Sauce Wood Ear Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts with Szechuan Pepper Crusted Tofu








     A Vegetarian Noodle House Style Entrée That Has Interesting Textures!
     Today's recipe is kind of a mish-mash of Asian food items.  All I can say is the flavors go well together and the ingredients add up to one healthy plate of food.

     Szechuan Pepper is not in the piper family of plants.  It come from the Prickly Ash Tree.  The flavor of Szechuan Pepper is complex and it has an interesting way of affecting taste buds with its oil.  The Szechuan Pepper is crushed and simply pressed into the surface of the firm tofu in today's recipe, so the full effect can be experienced.  

     Mai Fun is a type of thin noodle that is made from rice flour.  Mai Fun can be served soft after boiling or steaming.  For many Southeast Asia recipes Mai Fun is boiled then sautéed and sauced.  Dried Mai Fun can be deep fried as they are and the result is amazing.  The noodles literally puff up to more than quadruple their original size.  Deep fried Mai Fun is light, airy and crispy.  
     The trick to deep frying Mai Fun is simple.  The oil must be 400ºF!  Use a digital candy thermometer or fryer thermometer to check the temperature of the oil.  If the oil is 20º too cold, then the Mai Fun will not puff up like it should.

     Wood Ear Mushrooms are often referred by Asian vegetarians as meat.  Wood Ear Mushrooms can be purchased fresh or dried at Asian markets.  These mushrooms have a very mild agreeable flavor.  Wood Ear Mushrooms contain immune system boosting chemicals and anti aging compounds.

     Today's vegetarian blog recipe has a variety of interesting textures and flavors.  This noodle house entrée is savory, healthy and far from boring!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 entrée!

     Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms: 
     Soak about 6 dried wood ear mushrooms in water in a refrigerator overnight.
     Cut the reconstituted wood ear mushrooms into thin ribbons and set them aside.

     Crispy Mai Fun:
     Step 1:  Heat some vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 400ºF.  The oil should be about 2" deep. 
     Step 2:  Place 1 portion of dried mai fun in the hot oil.   
     Allow the noodles to fry crisp and puff up!
     Step 3:  Carefully use a fryer net to flip the noodles over in the hot oil, if the noodles on top did not get a chance to fry. 
     Use a fryer net to place the puffy fried noodles on a wire screen rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess oil.
     Keep the Crispy Mai Fun warm on a stove top.

     Seared Szechuan Pepper Tofu:
     Step 1:  Cut 4 thick squares of firm tofu that weigh about 2 ounces apiece.
     Crush about 8 whole Szechuan Peppercorns.
     Gently press the crush Szechuan pepper into the surface of one side of each tofu square.
     Season the tofu with sea salt.
     Step 2:  Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Place the tofu squares in the pan with the Szechuan pepper side facing down.
     Sear the tofu for about 2 minutes.
     Step 3:  Flip each tofu square over.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the seared Szechuan Pepper Tofu warm, till the sauce and vegetables are cooked.

     Five Spice Wood Ear Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts:
     Prepare all the ingredients before starting a stir fry!
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/4 cups of vegetable broth in a bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of Chinese five spice powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Chinese chile powder.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin soy sauce.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground galangal.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch.
     Stir the ingredients together and set the stir fry sauce aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan or mini wok over medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Add 3 crushed garlic cloves.
     Sauté till the garlic starts to turn a golden color.
     Step 3:  Add 1/5 cup of sliced onion.
     Add a few pieces of julienne sliced carrot for color.
     Add 8 to 10 peeled whole water chestnuts that are cut into small bite size wedges.
     Add the reserved sliced wood ear mushrooms.
     Stir fry the ingredients, till the onions start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add reserved stir fry sauce.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil and stir as the sauce thickens.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 thin sliced green onion.
     Keep the sauce and vegetables warm over very low heat while the plate is set.

     Crispy Mai Fun with Five Spice Sauce Wood Ear Mushrooms and Water Chestnuts with Szechuan Pepper Crusted Tofu:
     Step 1:  Place a tall mound of the crispy fried mai fun on a plate.
     Spoon the five spice wood ear mushrooms and water chestnuts over the center of the crispy mai fun.
     *Do not sauce all of the crispy mai fun, or it will not be crispy anymore!  Where the sauce touches the noodles, the noodles will become soft.
     Step 2:  Arrange the 4 squares of seared Szechuan pepper tofu across the middle of the mai fun.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle some very thin strips of roasted nori seaweed over the noodles.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of toasted sesame seed over the noodles.
     Sprinkle a few pinches of toasted black sesame seed over the noodles.
     Garnish with a few cilantro leaves.

     The flavor of this vegetarian entrée really tastes nice!  

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