Monday, March 10, 2008

Braised E-Fu Noodles with Mushrooms

Braised E Fu NoodlesI've been honored to help Pat Tanumihardja of Asian Grandmother's Cookbook with her latest project. Pat has signed on to author a new cookbook that will be published by Sasquatch books in the spring of 2009. Her cookbook will be a "compilation of family and homecooking recipes from across the Asian smorgasbord, the idea being that grandmothers are the closest link we have to our cultures and traditions."I love the idea! As a recipe tester, I followed her recipe for Braised E-Fu Mee (noodles) as closely as possible and squelched my usual desire to make substitutions or modifications.

I was pleased with this challenge, specifically because it forced me to seek out and use ingredients totally foreign to me. Before heading out to Ranch 99, a huge local Asian grocery store, I should have done some prior research. I naively thought I could head to the noodle aisle and find "E-Fu" noodles, a Chinese egg based noodle. Unfortunately, the noodle aisle at Ranch 99 is larger than most grocery stores' cereal aisle, and is chalked full of any and every type of noodle one could imagine - white, egg, curly, fresh, Vietnamese, Filipino, Cantonese. I tried to solicit the help of two sweet looking employees, but both shied away when I showed them the noodles I was looking for on my printed recipe. Alas, I finally found fresh, flat noodles which Pat described in her recipe as made from eggs and wheat flour, typically called e-fu, or "yi meen" in Cantonese. It didn't help that nearly all of the noodle packages were in Chinese; anything written in English was esoteric --- "Chinese Noodle." Love it.enoki mushrooms

I next headed to the produce & mushroom sections to look for dried shiitake mushrooms and enoki mushrooms. I never would have guessed what enoki mushrooms look like! For those not as adventurous, the enoki mushrooms are very mild in taste and cook down so that you barely notice them. To use them, just cut off the bottom stalk of the mushroom where the cluster of stalks are connected. According to Pat, these can also be eaten raw.

The dried shiitake mushrooms were soaked in a cup of water for about 20-30 minutes to soften them up. The resulting broth was later used for cooking & added a wonderful flavor to the dish. Lastly, I used cremini mushrooms which are my personal favorite and what I had on hand.

Here's the complete cast of characters including: shiitake, cremini, and enoki mushrooms, garlic, shallots and green onions. If you notice how poorly the shallots are chopped, my eyes were watering so much I thought I might cut a finger off!

The garlic, shallots, onions, mushrooms (& chicken, for me) were sauteed and then braised in the mushroom broth. The noodles were added & stir-fried, making for an easy dish to prepare.

Verdict: This recipe is a keeper. The dish is so unlike any stir-fry I would normally prepare, but both hubby and I were pleasantly surprised. The mushrooms added a mild and earthy, woodsy taste that was subtle but very delicious. My stir fry dishes are usually heavy on garlic and soy sauce, so this was much more mild (in a good way). However, I wouldn't recommend this dish if you are not a mushroom lover. Though the original recipe did not call for any meat, we added chicken and wouldn't have liked it as much without some protein in there. I look forward to the release of this great cookbook. Thanks, Pat!

Braised E-Fu Noodles with Mushrooms, courtesy of Pat from Asian Grandmother's Cookbook

8 medium shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and sliced into 1/4-inch slices (about 3/4 cup; soak mushrooms for approximately 20-30 minutes. Reserve the water used to soak the mushrooms)
2 (9oz) packets fresh or dried e-fu noodles (I used a 16 oz package of the fresh noodles)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Pinch salt
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 medium shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
4 oz button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (about 1 cup)
2 oz enoki mushrooms, trimmed and separated (1 cup)
1 cup Chinese chives or skinny green onions cut into 2-inch lengths (about 4 to 5 stalks)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water in a colander. Place drained noodles in a medium bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon oil, pinch salt and soy sauce. Mix well and set aside.

Preheat a 14-inch wok or 12-inch skillet. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil and heat over medium heat until hot. Sauté garlic and onions until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds. Add shiitake and button mushrooms and stir about 2 minutes, until mushrooms almost cooked. Add enoki mushrooms followed by reserved mushroom water.

Sprinkle oyster sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Throw in chives followed by noodles and toss to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss with a couple more flourishes.


Helios said...

Great recipe. I'd have to make a few changes being vegetarian (no oyster sauce) but the picture is certainly motivating me to consider it. Thanks for sharing!

tigerfish said...

My impression of E-Fu noodles is thinner in terms of width. I can't recall if I ever saw E-Fu noodles in Ranch99 but I guess any Chinese noodles will work here! This dish reminds me of Chinese wedding dinners! :O

First time here. You have a nice blog.

ShanQing said...

hey, i stumbled here in search of the usual recipe i use for e-fu noodles. just want to make a point to helios that you can use Mushroom Sauce (mock oyster sauce) and it works just as fine.

nice blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think it's great that you developed this recipe. I found the actual noodle that is called E-fu noodles. It is made in CA, found at Ranch 99 in the dried noodle aisle. These noodles were fried in soybean oil and then dried into a thick disk. The package does say "E-fu" noodle on it. I am going to try these noodles with your recipe. I have loved the texture of the e-fu noodles from restaurants.

Sharon said...

Anonymous - thanks for the tip. I may have to return and look a little closer for the real e-fu noodles!