Rice Noodle Salad with Fried Tofu

_MG_4988I have made a version of this salad pretty much once a week since the beginning of the summer, but neglected to post it until now because it usually disappears too quickly. It's the perfect summer dish, to me -- light, full of texture, and minimal cooking time. It also uses my favorite ingredients of the summer -- namely, lime juice, fish sauce and a little hot pepper. I was always wary of fish sauce until a couple of years ago, afraid of the pungent smell and implications behind the name. But luckily, I got over that and now I use it in dressings, marinades and sauces all the time -- it adds the perfect salty, unctuous flavor to almost anything. The original recipe uses panko-coated pan-fried shrimp instead of tofu, which is also delicious. _MG_4985

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Rice Noodle Salad with Fried Tofu (adapted from Food & Wine, serves 4)

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

I have to be honest. If I were to write down everything I ate, it would be kind of embarrassing. I would love to say that I eat a salad a day and eat my full 6 servings of fruit, but to be honest, sesame noodles would take up an unproportional amount of space. And living in New York, where amazing noodles of every kind are to be had at pretty much any hour of the day or night, doesn't really help this addiction. But usually I make my own, and this recipe, adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate cookbook (it REALLY is the ultimate -- I swear, everything I have ever made from this cookbook has been outstanding) is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. I added tofu for some protein, but you could easily substitute that for chicken or shrimp.The sauce would also make a great accompaniment to chicken satay...or raw vegetables. Or just eaten by the spoonful. (But then again, I can never have enough peanut sauce so you probably shouldn't trust me on this one.) Sesame Noodles with Tofu

8 oz. rice noodles

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated

4 green onions, very thinly sliced

2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you aren't a fan of spicy food)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 tablespoons hot water

1/4 cup crushed peanuts, to garnish

1 block tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 oz mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots and sugar snap peas

Prepare rice noodles as directed on box. When ready, coat with sesame oil and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large sauté pan. Add tofu, and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add vegetables and cook until crisp, 5-7 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté until beginning to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water and whisk to combine. Add sauce to tofu and vegetables, then add noodles and mix well. Garnish with peanuts, and serve immediately or cold.

Pad Thai

I love Thai food. However, sometimes I find that takeout options can be sickly sweet, or too oily, or not spicy enough. I decided to take matters into my own hands, and after finding out how easy this recipe is, I might never order pad thai for delivery again. It is also gluten-free, an added bonus to its simplicity and great taste. This can also easily be non-vegetarian by substituting the tofu for shrimp. Pad Thai (modified from Bon Appétit)

Serves 2-3

8 ounces pad thai rice noodles 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large eggs 1 block tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 cups bean sprouts 6 tablespoons tamarind water, or 3 tablespoons tamarind paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water (I couldn't find tamarind paste, so I used pomegranate paste to the same effect) 3 tablespoons (or more) Thai fish sauce (nam pla) 3 tablespoons simple syrup 5 scallions, thinly sliced. 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 6 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided 2 lime wedges
Soak rice noodles in a large bowl in hot water until firm but not soggy, 5-8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat oil until shimmering in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Sear tofu until browned on each side, 10- 15 minutes. Add eggs and scramble for 30 seconds. Add noodles, stir for 30 seconds. Stir in bean sprouts, then add tamarind water, fish sauce, simple syrup, scallions, and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute. Stir in 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with extra peanuts, fish sauce, scallions, and lime wedges.