Vegetarians are going to love this recipe! This is a simple Cantonese chow fun stir fry with tofu and watercress. There is nothing more satisfying than a big bowl of pan fried noodles coated with soy sauce and packed with umami flavors.
Tofu Chow Fun With Watercress
Tofu is just like sea urchin; if it doesn’t taste right the first time you have it, you will never want to eat it again. A bad sea urchin can taste like briny garbage and a bad tofu dish can be bland, boring and sometimes even a little sour. To this day I have friends who will frown at the sight of tofu and tell me they don’t understand the appeal. I totally get it but I tell them to give it another shot and to hold all judgments until they’ve tasted one of my tofu dishes. I’m pretty confident when it comes to cooking with tofu – it’s an ingredient I work with a lot and know how to prepare. Tossing a few tofu cubes in a dish like this chow fun recipe is easy and makes a great substitute to meat. The tofu takes a backseat and let the noodles shine – which is always a good thing if you like noodles as much as I do 🙂
So what exactly is chow fun? According to Wikipedia, “chow fun is a staple Cantonese dish, made from hor fun (wide rice noodles) and bean sprouts. It is commonly found in yum cha restaurants in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and overseas as well”.
Stir frying chow fun with beef is the traditional way to serve it but since I don’t eat a lot of meat, I made mine with tofu cubes and watercress, to mimic the taste and texture of water spinach. I’ve kept the sauce simple and classic: soy sauce with a little broth, chinkiang vinegar (rice vinegar is also good) and Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry). I sprinkled a little sugar to temper with the salty and savory elements and tossed the noodles in sesame oil before frying them, for a little nuttiness and to keep them from sticking together.
This is a very simple dish; there are no bells and whistles or crazy unfamiliar flavors. It’s your run-of-the-mill Chinese takeout dish that’s comforting and easy to devour. It’s one of those recipes you can adapt to your own liking by adding an ingredient here or subtracting another. You can’t go wrong with rice noodles and soy sauce – we all agree on that right? 🙂
Since I didn’t have hor fun noodles (wide flat rice noodles), I used the Thai rice stick noodles I had previously bought from Amazon. They are wide enough to suit a chow fun dish and have an excellent texture. Plus, they don’t seem to get soggy at all, which I L-O-V-E! And if you love spicy as much as I do, I recommend adding a good squirt of sriracha sauce to these noodles, you won’t regret it I promise!
You can make this tofu chow fun with watercress ahead of time and zap it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes just before serving. It will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
Other easy and delicious tofu recipe:
- Sweet and sour tofu
- Tofu dengaku (tofu with sweet miso glaze)
- General Tso tofu
- Honey sriracha tofu
- Tofu with London broil marinade
Did you like this Tofu Chow Fun With Watercress Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share?
Tofu Chow Fun With Watercress
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 2 people
- 6 ounces medium firm tofu (drained)
- 6 ounces dry flat rice noodles
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger (peeled and sliced into thin sticks)
- 1 medium onion (peeled, cut in half and sliced into thin half moons)
- 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 6 ounces watercress (roughly chopped)
- ground white peppper
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth or water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoons chinkiang vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Wrap tofu in paper towel and repeat this step a few times (I do it 2-3 times) to removed excess water. Slice tofu into bite size cubes and transfer to a Ziploc bag or Tupperware container.
- In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the sauce and add half of the sauce to the tofu. Set the other half of the sauce aside.
- Seal the bag and lightly massage the tofu cubes until they are evenly coated. Marinate for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add your noodles. Turn the heat off and cover for a few minutes, until the noodle are tender but still yielding a little crunch in the center. If you have instructions on the package, follow those. Drain, add sesame oil and lightly toss. This step is to prevent the noodles from getting sticky. Set aside.
- In a large pan or wok over high heat, add vegetable oil and when the oil is hot, add ginger and onions and stir fry for 3-4 minutes, until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic and watercress and cook for 2 minutes, until wilted.
- Add noodles and sauce and toss well until noodles are evenly coated.
- Add tofu and gently toss, careful not to scramble the cubes.
- Turn the heat off, transfer to a plate and top with scallions and a little ground white pepper.