I was so happy to cook this meal last week. Generally at home I have to cook pretty safe because my family and friends are particular about certain spices, veggies and cuisines. I can't throw down with crazy flavor ideas like I used to and just make pasta if it didn't work. With my sister Allie in town for Thanksgiving, we had more of a majority for exotic food. She went to college in Worcester MA and got takeout about 3 times a week from a Vietnamese place called Dalat. Her favorite meal was Bun Tofu Xao Xa, a fried noodle dish with lemongrass and tofu. She has tried to make it several times, but hasn't gotten it right, so she thought my help would come in handy. The first thing we did was call up Dalat. Hello. I was thinking about ordering Bun Tofu Xoa Xa, but I have tons of allergies... Can you tell me what is in the sauce? They even named the specific brand of fish sauce which I think helped a lot with the flavors.
Lots and Lots of lemongrass. You can use my guide if you need help cutting it. I think we used about 12 lemongrass stalks.
The parts of lemongrass that aren't tender enough to eat go into the sauce to seep out flavors. In the sauce is fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and chile paste. After about 45 minutes of being on super low on the stove (no bubbles, just hot) I strained it.
Fried tofu is the best part of this meal.
Cabbage softens a bit, then the lemongrass garlic ginger paste goes in the pan.
The cooked noodles.
The bean thread noodles are really hard work to stir. Here is where you add some of the sauce. Be sure to reserve some for table side dressing.
Did I mention the noodles are hard to stir?
Taking a break after the hard work of stirring the noodles.
The dish is garnished with the fried tofu, cucumbers, mint, some hoisin and more of the sauce.
So tasty, so refreshing, so simple, so lemongrassy, so delicious.
Note: this dish is normally served room temperature at Dalat. Allie was really happy with the flavors, but thought that we should have let it sit a bit to cool off. Secondly, we mistakenly got bean thread noodles, it is supposed to be rice stick!
First of all, fry up some tofu with a light flour dusting and set it aside for garnish. chop some mint, cucumbers and peanuts also.
Now take some time to get the lemongrass. Lots of time. It takes kind of awhile to get the good stuff out of all the lemongrass stalks (about 10 to 12), but it is worth it. After all, lemongrass is in the name of the dish! Again, if you need help, check out this post.
Mix about 4 parts oyster brand fish sauce to one part sesame oil. Add a few tablespoons of sugar and chile paste. Next add a bunch of the discarded parts of lemongrass that aren't tender enough to eat. Let this cook on super low, not even simmering, for about a half hour before straining and tasting. You need to taste this sauce and see if it needs more sugar or anything like that. Add 1/3 of your prepared lemongrass to the sauce and set aside for later.
Chop the remaining 2/3 of the lemongrass in with 2 cloves of garlic and the same amount of ginger. Make a bit of a loose paste.
Shred half a cabbage and 2 carrots.
Pour boiling water over the noodles.
Cook the cabbage in a wok on high in oil for 5 minutes until soft. Make a hole in the middle and add some oil and your lemongrass paste. Stir around in the middle on its own for 2 minutes, then mix in with the cabbage. Add the softened noodles to the wok. Add some of your sauce and the carrots. Stir until well combined, this may be strenuous work! Remove from heat and serve with garnishes of hoisin, mint, extra sauce, cucumbers, peanuts, and fried tofu.