Saturday, December 31, 2011

E-Fu Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Chives

I've been trying to figure out how to make these noodles for about 10 years, and I finally did it!

This dish is the last course of the 10-course banquet at East Ocean City, one of my favorite restaurants in Boston's Chinatown.  I love the spongy texture of the noodles.  The dish is very simple, but even after I've eaten 9 other courses, I always find room for them in my stomach.

Given the light, spongy texture, I figured that the noodles were fresh, but every package of fresh noodles from the Chinese grocery store didn't have the sponginess to soak up the sauce.  I spent years feeling discouraged.  Due to my limited Chinese, I even had trouble ordering the dish in restaurants.  However, I had the noodles at East Ocean City again on my birthday this year. They were so delicious that my determination to learn how to make them was renewed!

My sister-in-law told me that the Chinese name for the noodles is "e-fu," and I read about them online, learning that the noodles were usually sold in the dried form.  I had hoped I could just order some online and have them delivered, but alas, Amazon Grocery hasn't started selling them yet.  My friend Chris confirmed that her husband had purchased this type of noodle from our local Chinese grocery store.  None of the store employees speak English, so I thought about asking Chris's husband to come on a shopping trip with me.  However, today I went to the grocery store to see what I could find on my own.  I asked one of the employees for "E-fu? Yi mein?" in my terrible accent, and then I showed her the Chinese characters from the Wikipedia page on my phone.  Success!

I thought that I'd just use the packet of soup base that came with the noodles, but after some scrolling through Google search pages, I found a recipe for the exact dish I was looking for.  I did actually weigh the ingredients on my fabulous kitchen scale (which also helps my husband be very accurate with the postage when mailing out packages), but below I tried to estimate how much to use if you don't have a scale.

I think the dish came out as good as East Ocean City's, and I made it for less than a third of what they charged us last time!

E-Fu Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Chives
adapted from

200 g dried e-fu noodles (I used 3 packages of dried noodles)
150 g garlic chives (about a bunch 1-inch in diameter), cut into 2-inch segments
10-12 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cooking wine
1 tbsp vegetable oil

For sauce:
1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste, because saltiness of oyster sauce varies)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp sesame oil

1.  Fill stock pot or water with about 4 cups of water (enough to cover one package of dried noodles).  Add mushrooms and bring water to a boil.  Then add one package of dried noodles, blanching noodles for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Immediately remove noodles from water. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Repeat for each package of noodles.  Remove mushrooms and let cool.  Reduce mushroom water to about 1/2 a cup.  (If you don't have time to reduce the mushroom water, just substitute a 1/2 cup of chicken broth in other steps.)  Thinly slice mushrooms.

2. Mix together sauce ingredients with 1/2 cup of reduce mushroom water.  Set aside.

3. Heat wok or large nonstick skillet on medium high heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant, and then add sliced mushrooms.  Stir-fry them until lightly brown, about half to one minute. Add chives and sprinkle wine on side of wok and give a few quick stirs until chives soften.  Remove mushroom and chive mixture to plate.

4. Pour in mixed sauce in center of wok. Bring it to a simmer, then put in noodles and mushroom and chive mixture. You need to constantly flip and turn them to avoid sticking to the wok. Stir well and until all the sauce is evenly coated to the noodles.  Serve immediately.

Time: about 30 minutes
Yields: 2 servings if main course, maybe 4 servings if side dish

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