This is one of those recipes that came about by complete accident. I had planned to do tofu and pepper in black bean sauce, but my last pepper had gone soft so I had to improvise! We're mostly down to root veg, frozen or tinned now and I didn't fancy tofu with potatoes! So I decided to dry some tinned haricot vert instead. Snake beans are pretty common in Chinese dishes so I decided this would need to be my substitute! The tinned veg worked really well. I'll happily use it again in the future.
I'm a huge fan of rice noodles. Most types can just be rehydrated with boiling water so they make for a quick meal. They're also naturally gluten free, making them useful for anyone who doesn't eat gluten.
This dish can be adapted however you want. If you want to keep it vegan, leave out the egg. You can replace the tofu with prawns or meat if you prefer. The level of chilli can be ramped up or down depending on taste. If you have other veg like beansprouts or peppers, feel free to throw that in. It's all dependent on what you've got in the fridge. This is a store cupboard version because it's what I've got available, but use whatever you have available.
Tofu has a bit of a bad reputation. People often think it's bland, and it's true, it is! But that's the best thing about it. It takes on the flavour of whatever sauce you're cooking it in, or you can marinade it. I chose to coat it and fry it first which gives it a lovely flavour and texture. Win-win!
To serve 3-4, you'll need:
- dried vermicelli (normally one nest per person)
- 1 pack firm tofu
- 3 eggs
- 1 tin haricot vert, drained
- 1 large spring onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- five spice powder
- 1tbsp black beans
- 2 tbsp light soy
- 1tbsp dark soy
- 2tbsp rice wine
- 2tsp sugar
- sirarcha to taste
- vegetable oil
1. The first step is to press your tofu for a few hours. Wrap it in a tea towel and put a few heavy tins on top. Pop it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. I've had mixed success with tofu in France because it isn't always clear whether it's firm or silken tofu. This brand worked really well this time though.
2. Now onto cooking. Pop your black beans into some cold water and set to one side. Pour boiling water over the vermicelli. Once softened, drain and rinse with cold water. Set to one side.
3. Cut your tofu into 1cm oblongs. On a plate, mix cornflour and five spice, and coat each tofu piece in the powder.
4. Heat 1cm vegetable oil in a wok, and fry the coated tofu in batches. You want each tofu piece to be crispy. Set it to one side.
5. Clean out your wok and put it back on the heat. For stir frying, it should be as hot as you can get it. While it's heating, drain and roughly chop the black beans.
6. Once your wok is hot, add a little oil. If it's hot enough, you shouldn't need much! Scrambled your eggs in the wok, then remove them back to the bowl.
7. Get your wok back up to temperature, and add a touch more oil if needed. Then add the spring onions, garlic and black beans. Stir fry for a few minutes until fragrant. If you're adding raw veg like peppers, or meat, now would be the time to add them and cook them through since the next few stages will take less than 5 minutes.
8. Add the vermicelli, haricot vert and seasonings (light soy, dark soy, rice wine, sugar and sirarcha). Fry on the highest heat until any liquid has evaporated and the vermicelli starts to char. The flavour that comes from this charring is known as "wok hei", or breath of the wok. It's why wok-fried food has that addictive "je ne sais quoi".
9. Finally, stir through the scrambled eggs and tofu. You're only looking to reheat these. Cooking the tofu for too long will stop it being crispy.
10. Serve with additional sirarcha if you like.