17 November 2009

Green beans, tofu and soba noodles

This recipe is based on my attempts to make szechuan green beans after having really liked the dish in places like Sha Lin Noodle House and Ginger and Chili when first getting to know Vancouver. It slowly evolved into a noodle dish under Liz' influence and we alternate the shitake mushrooms with oyster or enoki if it's available. They can also be removed if you don't like mushrooms, as can the tofu and the garlic.


3 handfuls of green beans, ends trimmed & cut in half
3/4 block of extra firm tofu, cut into thick rectangles
2 thick slices of a medium sized yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic, cut into big chunks
2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms, diced
1-2 teaspoon of ginger, minced
one bundle of buckwheat soba noodles
1-2 teaspoons of black sesame seeds
1-2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds
2-3 squeezes of Bragg liquid soy seasoning
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1-2 pinches of chili flakes
3-4 pinches of cumin
3-4 pinches of pepper
2-3 glugs of canola oil

Fill a medium sized pot 3/4 full with water and place it on the stove in preparation for cooking the noodles. Put a couple glugs of canola oil in a wok and turn the heat up to medium high. Once the oil is hot add the green beans and toss them regularly so they cook on all sides. Once the green beans have started to brown add the chili flakes, pepper, cumin, tofu, mushrooms and onion. Toss the wok regularly to make sure everything comes in contact with the bottom. If the mushrooms and tofu soak up the rest of the oil in the wok, add another glug to avoid sticking. At this point turn on the heat to boil the water for the noodles. Once the tofu has started to brown add the garlic and ginger. Once the water has started to boil add the noodles to the water and cook until tender, approximately 6 minutes. When the onions have started to go translucent add a squeeze of Bragg's or about a little more than a tablespoon. When the Bragg's has started to cook off add a smaller squeeze and turn down the heat. I tend to taste a green bean at this point and see if it needs anything else like more cumin or pepper. When the noodles have cooked, strain them and add to the stir fry adding another squeeze of Bragg's. Using a pair of tongs, mix the noodles with the stir fry and turn the heat up again for a minute or two to cook off any excess water from the noodles and Bragg's. When the liquids have mostly evaporated, turn the heat off and sprinkle with sesame oil and the seeds while tossing the mixture with tongs.

Szechuan green beans are traditionally made with sichuan pepper, which I don't always have and haven't fully mastered. The flavour is really distinct and strong, so I tend to be a little heavy handed with the pepper to match the prickliness of the Chinese pepper. But if you're interested in Szechuan cuisine, then they're worth tracking down either in Chinatown or one of the T&T Supermarkets where they might be labeled prickly ash. I can't wait to hear what Michelle has gotten to eat in Beijing and hope that she had a chance to visit the Szechuan state restaurant that I came to love in my brief time there.

Photos by Liz & Janos

1 comment:

  1. An excellent example of why tongs are nice to have in a kitchen, and why one day I'll have myself a knife that doesn't say London Drugs on the blade. Definitely going to try this recipe.


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