Peanut noodles are just about the best things ever. That is, I guess, unless you are allergic to peanuts, or hate fresh veggies, or have a problem with tasting joy.
I always have a lot of fun making stir-fry or asian noodle dishes, because as long as you get the main pillars of the recipe to stand up you’re free to add or remove anything your little heart desires. This is not food chemistry, nothing will collapse or deflate or combust if you decide to tweak the recipe a little bit to your liking (I mean, you know, unless you’re subbing out red peppers for lighter fluid. That would be bad).
So here are the 3 pillars you need to stand up to make your fabulous dish:
- Nicely cooked rice noodles that aren’t too mushy or so undercooked that they lodge into your molars.
- A peanut sauce that is rounded out (this includes all the big Thai flavors – salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy).
- Veggies that are thinly sliced and that make you happy to eat.
Everything else is up to you! Freedom!
My husband and I are trying to eat more vegetarian meals, so for us I decided to use tofu as a protein source. But this dish is fantastic with cooked shredded chicken (rotisserie chickens were made for things like this). I also happen to really like red peppers and cucumbers in mine, but you could add any kind of veggies you like: broccoli florets, carrot, celery, radish, bok choy…anything you want. I like to garnish the noodles with chopped peanuts, but I didn’t have any on hand today and so I subbed in pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Still super yummy!
Thai Peanut Noodles
1/2 package rice noodles
14 oz can bean spouts, drained
8 oz can water chestnuts, drained and sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced into thin strips
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into thin strips
1 pkg extra firm tofu (I like West Soy)
2 Tb Tamari (or soy sauce)
freshly ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 bunch scallions, chopped
For the Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
*1/2 jar natural peanut butter (I like Smuckers Natural creamy)
3 Tb lime juice
6 Tb rice vinegar
2 Tb cider vinegar
1/4 c Tamari (or soy sauce)
5 Tb sugar (see * below)
fresh ground pepper
1 Tb Sriracha (this is the hot stuff…optional or to taste)
1 Tb Sesame oil
2 Tb water, if needed to thin the sauce
*If you want to use regular peanut butter, just decrease
or eliminate the added sugar listed in the recipe
For the tofu:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the tofu in half width wise and press for 20 minutes until the liquid has been removed. Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch strips and place in a large bowl. Combine the 2 Tb tamari, garlic powder, and pepper in the bowl, and gently cover the tofu slices in the mixture. Use cooking spray on a cookie sheet or sheet pan, and lay the tofu slices on it. Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip over and cook 10 more minutes. This baking helps make the tofu more firm and hold together better in the noodles – plus it helps my meat loving husband feel like he’s chewing on something besides noodles and veggies! Once they are done, let them cool off and then cut them into smaller strips.
For the Sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until it is a smooth consistency. You don’t have to use a blender, sometime I just mix them all up in a bowl! But the blender does make it smooth. Give the sauce a taste and decide if you need to adjust any of the flavors. If it feels too tangy from the vinegar, add some more sugar or tamari. If it seems too salty, add more sugar or water. Just try to make sure you are hitting all the different flavors of Thai seasonings, and you should be good!
For the Rice Noodles:
In a large pot boil enough water that it will cover the noodles. After the water has boiled, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Add the noodles and let them sit in the hot water for 7 minutes, or until they are done. Drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cooled off.
Now you are ready to take all the parts and combine them together into one big bowl of deliciousness! I find that using my cleaned hands is a less messy and quicker way of mixing all these things together, rather than using tongs or forks. Combine the noodles, sauce, veggies, and tofu until everything is really well-integrated. Then, pop it in the fridge and let them flavors all come together for a couple of hours.
Don’t be surprised if when you take the noodles out of the fridge they have soaked up a lot of the peanut sauce. If you need to, add a little bit of hot water to them and let them come to room temp, and you will be ready to go.