Here’s a meatless variation of a classic northern Chinese noodle dish. We love the contrast between the hot, saucy noodles and the cold, crunchy raw vegetable toppings. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, so you can make the sauce and prepare the toppings ahead of time and then cook the noodles when you’re ready to eat.
- ½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (5 to 8 caps)
- 1½ cups boiling water
- 1 cake firm tofu (about 16 ounces)
- 12 ounces moonlight mushrooms
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ cup Chinese sweet bean sauce (6-ounce can)
- 3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
- 1 pound linguine or Chinese wheat noodles
- grated carrots
- chopped tomatoes
- mung bean sprouts
- shredded cabbage
- peeled, seeded, and diced cucumbers
- a few sliced scallions
- Place the dried shiitake in a bowl, add the boiling water, and set aside to soften for about 15 minutes.
- With a box grater or in a food processor, coarsely grate the tofu.
- Slice the moonlight mushrooms, mince or press the garlic, and chop the onion.
- Bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, warm the oil and sauté the onion, garlic, salt, and
- pepper for about 7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
- Stir in the sliced mushrooms and grated tofu and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices.
- Meanwhile, remove the softened shiitake from the bowl.
- If there are large stems, cut them off and discard.
- Slice the caps and add to the skillet.
- Add ¾ cup of the shiitake soaking liquid (pour the liquid with care so that any gritty residue is left behind in the bowl).
- Add the sweet bean sauce and the vinegar and stir occasionally until the sauce is hot,
- about 5 minutes.
- If the sauce is too thick, add a little water.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until al dente and prepare the toppings. We like to serve the toppings at the table in separate bowls so that diners can choose their own.
- Drain the pasta.
- Serve Beijing Noodles in individual bowls: a helping of noodles topped with some sauce, and then the toppings.
Look for Chinese sweet bean sauce in Asian markets. It usually comes in 6- or 16-ounce cans. Leftover sauce can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for several months.
Stir some Chinese chili paste into the sauce.
Stir a few drops of dark sesame oil into the noodles.