Thai Noodle Salad w/ Tofu

For as much as I love Asian food, I really don’t like tofu.  I keep trying it though, because I’m optimistic that one day I’ll get what Jamiesan and Grossman see in it.  Actually, I take that back.  There’s a noodle/tofu dish at a Thai place in LA that I absolutely loved, but that’s because the tofu didn’t feel like tofu (or at least what most tofus feel like).  See, it’s not really about the taste for me, it’s a texture thing.

Anyway, long story short, I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought I’d give it a whirl since we’re trying to be healthier.  As it turns out, this was really really good!  I used extra-firm tofu instead of firm, and I didn’t press it or marinate it for as long as the recipe requires because I’m lame and didn’t actually read the directions till I got home and then I was all “30 minutes?! what the hell?!” and “2 hours!!  Fuck!  Well, we’re gonna wing it”.  But even with my pressing of only 15 minutes and marinating for only 30, it turned out great!  It’s similar to the Vietnamese Noodles, but it has a slightly different flavor profile.  Also?  It’s spicy, and I only used about half of the recommended chili garlic sauce.

Thai Noodle Salad w/ Sauteed Tofu

Ingredients

  • 3/4  pound  firm water-packed tofu, drained  (I used extra-firm)
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice  (I used from a bottle because I’m lame)
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1  tablespoon  chili garlic sauce  (I used about 2 tsp.)
  • 1  teaspoon  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger (hello, from a jar)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  tablespoon  peanut oil (I used olive oil.  sue me.)
  • Noodles:
  • 3/4  pound  uncooked rice vermicelli
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 3  tablespoons  chili garlic sauce (I used about half that)
  • 2  tablespoons  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons  peanut oil (olive again)
  • 1  tablespoon  Thai fish sauce
  • 2  teaspoons  sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  crushed red pepper  (I just used a few sprinkles)
  • Remaining ingredients:
  • 2  cups  thinly sliced romaine lettuce
  • 1  cup  shredded carrot
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt

Preparation

1. To prepare tofu, cut tofu into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Top with several more layers of paper towels; top with a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove tofu from paper towels; cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Combine tofu, 2 tablespoons juice, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate at room temperature 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, swirling to coat; heat 30 seconds. Remove tofu from bag; discard marinade. Add tofu to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until crisp, carefully turning to brown all sides. Remove from heat.

3. To prepare noodles, while tofu marinates, place vermicelli in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water; drain well. Set noodles aside.

4. To prepare dressing, combine 1/4 cup juice and next 8 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon red pepper), stirring with a whisk.

5. Combine vermicelli, lettuce, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing; toss well to combine. Top with tofu.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
336 (26% from fat)
Fat:
9.8g (sat 1.5g,mono 5g,poly 2.8g)
Protein:
10.3g
Carbohydrate:
57.2g
Fiber:
2.4g
Cholesterol:
0.0mg
Iron:
2.5mg
Sodium:
794mg
Calcium:
132mg

As a side note, I prepare my noodles differently.  I boil them for 2-3 minutes and then rinse them for a couple of minutes with cold water.  I’ve tried the “put them in a bowl w/ boiling water” thing, and I think that they kind of turn out gummy.  Just my own preference though.

Published in: on January 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad

This is one of my favorite dishes ever, and since moving away from Los Angeles in 2006, one I’ve had to learn how to make on my own. See, when we lived in LA, we’d just jet on over to this place around the corner called Le Saigon and order “two #8s and a 13” and blissfully indulge. And yes, there are some Vietnamese places here in TX, but so far none of them have lived up to our Le Saigon standards. What can I say, we were spoiled. So one day I decided to scour the net for THE recipe.

Lo and behold, I found one! It took some doctoring, but it turns out, I can make it and it’s dang tasty! To make it taste like it does at Le Saigon, I used less fish sauce and garlic in the Nuac Cham, cooked the noodles a bit longer, and added more lettuce, cilantro, and cucumber.

Recently, I got the Best International Recipe Cookbook and discovered that they also have a recipe for Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad, so I thought I’d give it a go tonight.

The verdict is in: When making a Vietnamese dish, it’s probably best to actually trust the recipe from a Vietnamese person and not the recipe from a bow-tie wearing round-eye. This one was FAR too limey for my taste, the fish sauce to garlic ratio was kind of off, and the brown sugar in the marinade was a bit cloying.

Of course, according to Cook’s Illustrated, their recipe is perfect in every way, is better than that of any Asian person, and I’m not allowed under any circumstance to modify it. Just ask them! This blog has turned me off of them completely, and I will never buy another of their books or magazines. I always thought Chris Kimball was a pompous prick, and that just confirms it for me.

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 1:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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