Vegetarian Claypot Noodles

Vegetarian Claypot Noodles

Claypot noodles, also known as Yee Mee (伊麵) or Poh Chai Noodles (煲仔麵) are a type of crispy noodles made from wheat flour and palm oil. While resembling spaghetti in shape and texture, they have a unique flavour and are commonly used in claypot cooking.

I love these noodles so much, I usually keep a packet on hand in my pantry. Like most noodles, they can be cooked in soup or stir-fried. Their inherent flavour also creates a fragrant broth from boiling the noodles alone. This comes in handy when I’m after a quick bowl of noodle soup, as additional stock isn’t required.

Here, I’ve cooked these noodles claypot style, sans claypot because I can’t use claypots on my electric burner. It’s a quick and easy recipe, but definitely not lacking in the flavour department, thanks to the umami properties of the shitake mushrooms.

This recipe is a vegetarian one, but a meat version can just as easily be made by substituting some of the tofu with sliced chicken or pork. Claypot noodles are available from most Asian supermarkets. Look for noodles made in Malaysia as brands from China don’t seem to have the same type of flavour.

Vegetarian Claypot Noodles

2 servings, as a main

2 cakes claypot noodles (Yee Mee)
4-6 dried shitake mushrooms
300g (10 oz) firm tofu, cut into thin slices 1 inch (3cm) long
1 medium head (about 2 cups) broccoli, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch (1 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and minced (optional)
5 tbsp (75 ml) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
1/2 tbsp (8 ml) sesame oil
1/2 tbsp (8 ml) sugar
1 long red chilli or 2 birds-eye chilli to serve, sliced (optional)

Soak shitake mushrooms in 2 cups of water for at least two hours until soft. Remove from water and reserve the liquid for later use. Remove stems and dice finely. Slice the mushroom caps thinly and set aside.

Steam the broccoli and set aside, uncovered. (If kept covered they will wilt and lose their crunch).

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Do not allow the garlic to burn. Add the shitake mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mushrooms are fragrant.

Add the tofu and stir-fry until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Next add the noodles and the soaking liquid from the mushrooms. Cover and allow the noodles to cook until al dente. Claypot noodles absorb a lot of water so add extra water if the liquid in the pan dries out before the noodles are done.

The amount of gravy in this dish is a matter of personal preference. I add just enough water for the noodles to cook, resulting in a small amount of gravy. For more gravy, simply add more water while cooking.

When the noodles are cooked, add the broccoli and stir through for about 30 seconds. Turn off heat and serve immediately. Garnish with sliced chillies, if desired.