Friday, June 11, 2010


I LOVED this. Benny? not so much.

That seems to be the #1 phrase used on this blog so far.

Damn that man is hard to please. This is a tricky one because, even though I have watched this dish being made many many times, Benny is the one who cooks this one. I thought I'd try my hand at it the other day as it was EXACTLY what I wanted and tofu at Whole Foods was $1.49. (That's the last time I'll be going to Whole Foods. Mark my words.) It should be noted that I passed up a trip to Wendy's so I could make this. Now THAT says something.

Anyway, it turns out that I am really good at making this exactly the way I like it. Benny had (ahem ahem) some suggestions, since we have very different tastes. I think from now on, I'll be making it in 2 different batches, something that I'm going to have to get used to.

Either way, I've included both my version of it and Benny's suggested add-ins. I think a little bit of a beginner's lesson in stir fry seems to be in order as well. As I've been talking to my family and friends about the recipes on my blog, I've been realizing that I think most whiteys (like myself) are a little scared of homemade stir fry. Which is a bummer, because its silly easy and for the most part can flex really well according to what you have lying around.

So. Let's start with necessities.

If you're making a noodle stir fry, these are our favorite. I'm pretty sure you can get them or something similar to them in the Asian aisle at Jewel-Osco. You should be looking for a thin "oriental style noodle." If you really can't find any, ramen noodles will totally do. (Without the spices included in the ramen pack, obviously.)

Kecap Manis is also a big one. I can't stress enough how nice it is to have some around the house. We put it in everything and it is always such a nice addition. I think they have this at Jewel as well but if not, they'll definitely have it in asian markets and it would be completely worth the trip. It's an awesome sweet and thick soy sauce. Trust me, you'll love it. (I use it in a number of the recipes on this blog including pangseet, ginger coconut stir fry, lemongrass chicken, kroketten, etc.)

I think that ginger is a necessity as well but that might be a personal preference. Regardless, garlic definitely is important and so is preparing everything before you turn on your wok. This is a fast-moving little process and its really nice to have everything ready to go, including precooking the meat and lightly beating the egg. (Pre-cooking the meat is not always a necessity, you can put it in first and let it have time to cook before you start the actual stir fry - its just an issue of what works best for you.) As far as actual ingredients go, its nice to have bell peppers, other vegetables, some kind of a meat, and an egg. (Benny likes bamboo shoots and water chestnuts as well for a bit of crunch)

Now for the process. Stir fry is so so simple if you just follow a few general rules. You want to work quickly, get your wok really hot, and add ingredients based on the amount of time they need to cook. It's also obviously important to continually toss (stir & fry... see?) the ingredients. The basic formula is as such:

  1. Aromatics, salt, pepper, and vegetables first - Anything that needs some time to cook or tenderize (excluding tomato as putting it in too early will leave you with stewed peeled tomatoes and little rolled up peel ropes hanging out in there - not appealing or delicious)
  2. If you're using an egg, add it once the aromatics begin to smell real nice and the veggies start to get tender
  3. Add meat just as the egg starts to cook
  4. Add noodles, directly followed by sauces and tomatoes if you're using them, toss everything around and you're done.

As long as you stick to the basic formula, you're golden. And it's totally flexible as to what you put in there.

So here is one of my favorites in recipe form for the sake of example. Feel free to adjust the amounts or actual ingredients according to your tastes, but I would like to urge you to try fried tofu. I'm not a vegetarian or a tofu-lover at all and I completely love it. Even just as a snack. It's addicting and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Serves 3

Ingredients ("Au Pif"):

Desired amount of your favorite "oriental style" or ramen noodles
Oil for Frying
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
A 1-2" piece of peeled ginger, minced
1 bell pepper, sliced in pieces small enough to comfortably eat with a fork
1/2 a white onion, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
1 box of extra firm tofu (or your preferred meat)
Kecap Manis
Soy Sauce (we use Maggi)
1 can each Bamboo Shoots & Water Chestnuts, drained (on Benny's suggestion)


For frying the tofu:
Pat and squeeze the tofu with a paper towel and then let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to dry. (doesn't need to be completely dry, just mostly) Then cut the tofu into cubes, strips, or triangles (I like to do all three! It doesn't matter, you just need to get it to a good size for frying and eating)

Heat deep fryer to 400ยบ or heat about 3 inches of oil in a saucepan

Carefully lower tofu into oil and fry until golden brown. Set aside on a paper towel until it's time to add it to the wok.

For the stir fry:

Start with cooking your noodles, draining them, and setting them aside.

Drizzle a good amount of oil into your wok and heat. Get your wok real hot, and then add the ginger, garlic, pepper, onion, and salt & pepper (And bamboo shoots and water chestnuts if you're using them.) Toss/stir until you get that nice onion/ginger/garlicy smell and the onions and peppers get tender-crisp. Add the beaten egg, stirring to scramble and incorporate.

Once the egg is cooking, add the tofu, followed by the noodles.

Directly after which, get all of your mixture into the middle of the wok and drizzle kecap and maggi around the edge of said mixture, tossing to incorporate.

Turn off the heat and serve immediately.

Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge. Reheat in a skillet with a bit of water, just until hot. (It reheats really well and tastes pretty similar to when its fresh.)

Good luck!

disclaimer: I am white, and only know as much as my half-indonesian boyfriend and Ibu Enkom taught me. - That said, I'm pretty sure I can make a pretty delicious stir fry

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