This is a riff on a Cambodian noodle salad I found a few months ago. I’ve changed it up quite a bit by substituting shrimp and fish sauce with marinated organic tofu and soy sauce. In the the past five weeks I’ve made it four times. I think it’s absolutely craveable, especially when the temperatures are in the 90s… The key ingredients that really make this stand out are lots of herbs and salty peanuts. Delish! It’s a perfect dish for summer picnics.
Servings: 4 people
• 8 ounces rice noodles — pad thai-style or vermicelli. Cook according to directions, drain and rinse with cold water until water runs clear and noodles don’t stick
• 1 cucumber peeled (if bitter) and diced
• 1 small white or yellow onion halved and thinly sliced
• 1 cup roasted peanuts roughly chopped
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 Thai or Fresno chili stemmed, seeded and minced finely
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 block extra firm tofu drained and pressed (or 1 pound cooked shrimp, roughly chopped)
• 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro, mint and/or basil roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon sriracha
• After you have pressed the excess water out of your tofu (or not, you really don’t have to if you don’t want, but the tofu does absorb the marinade more if you do press it), marinate your tofu. Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and sriracha in a glass bowl (I use one with a lid) and mix until thoroughly combined. Add cubed tofu and let sit while you get all of your other ingredients together. I often shake the bowl to incorporate the marinade while I’m prepping the rest of the dish. This can also be done a day before or even hours before making the dish.
• Toss your diced cucumber and sliced onions with about a teaspoon of salt in a colander. Let drain in the sink for about ten minutes. While cucumbers and onions are draining, cook your tofu. Cook tofu in a wok or skillet with toasted sesame oil or a neutral oil like sunflower until evenly browned on at least two sides.
• Cook your rice noodles according to their packet directions. Drain and rinse extremely well with cold water to be certain the noodles don’t stick together.
• Stir together peanuts, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is completely dissolved.
• In a large bowl, add the rice noodles, cucumber and onion mixture, tofu (or shrimp) and herbs. Stir in the peanut/lime juice and sugar dressing until all of the noodles are coated. Taste and adjust to taste. Sometimes you might find it needs more lime juice or a dash of soy sauce or, if you desire, fish sauce.
• I find this dish tastes great the night I make it, but even better the next day when the flavors fully develop.