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.
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
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.