BLACK PEPPER STIR FRIED NOODLES

INGREDIENTS
For the Black Pepper Sauce:
  • ½ tablespoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 5-6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons water
For the Stir Fried Noodles:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 8 ounces udon noodles (rice noodles would also work)
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • 10 ounces extra firm tofu
  • sesame seeds for topping
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and cook for 1-2 minutes (they should NOT be all the way cooked – just enough to barely soften). Drain and rinse with cold water – this removes starch and helps them stir fry without turning into a big blob. Set aside.
  2. Place all the sauce ingredients in the food processor and give it a whirl. When it’s smooth, taste it and adjust to your liking. Cut the tofu into slices and press out the excess moisture several times with paper towels. Cut the tofu slices into cubes. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet. When the oil is shiny, add the tofu. Stir fry very gently (breaks apart easily) for 5-10 minutes until deep golden brown. Add a tiny splash of black pepper sauce, a tiny splash of water, and ½ tablespoon oil and shake the pan around – everything will be all sizzly and awesome. When the tofu is cooked to your liking, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon oil in the skillet. When the oil is shiny, add the noodles and black pepper sauce. Add a splash of water if the sauce becomes too thick. Stir fry until the noodles are softened completely, covered with sauce, and piping hot. Remove from heat and toss with the spinach and tofu. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.
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