I had a little hiatus from blogging due to my first cooking injury. Good thing Mr. Wonderful bought really sharp knives or I might be down a finger, instead I just filleted myself a little bit. You would not believe how incredible the combo of super glue and liquid bandage are in avoiding a visit to urgent care and stitches. I digress, on to the recipe.
I’m officially obsessed with Isa Chandra now that I have her newest cookbook Appetite for Reduction. I mean, I loved her before with her Post Punk Kitchen (PPK), Vegan Cookies Invade the Cookie Jar and her Veganomicon, but this book is her best and healthiest yet (um, can we get more pics in the next book please?). Here is the first recipe Mr. Wonderful and I tried from the book. Just try it, don’t let the ingredients scare you. Most of them are readily available at the “normal” grocery store in the ethnic aisle. If you want a deal on the price of these items venture to your local Asian grocier, just don’t freak out about what you might see in the freezer section. You have been warned. Now you have no excuse NOT to get to know chili garlic sauce as a binder for a delish dressing. Even Walter the Wonderdog got in on the cooking action this time.
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu
Serves 6 – Active Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes
(Can be made gluten-free if using GF tamari in place of soy sauce)
1. I used my heavy duty cast iron grill pan & it made gorgeous, “grilled tofu”. Get a grill pan at Bed, Bath, & Beyond for 20% off.
2. I used Nasoya light firm tofu to cut the fat. My nutritional info, therefore, differs from Isa’s in the book.
3. You can sub walnuts or cashews for the peanuts if you like.
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey..heck you could use maple syrup)
- 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes, depending how juicy your limes are)
- 1/4 tsp. salt, optional
- 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (low sodium)
- 1 (8-ounce) package of thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
- 1 medium-size cucumber thinly-sliced half-moons (1 heaping cup or 6 ounces)
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 handfuls of bean sprouts (I’m all about bean sprouts right now)
- 4 ounces string beans, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup) These stay raw!
- 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 cup bean sprouts (this I added because I’m obsessed with them)
- 2 cups mixed greens
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced mint leaves
Peanut-Mint Gremolata (I used walnuts):
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- Zest of 1/2 lime
1. To make the dressing, mix all its ingredients together and stir vigorously. Set aside.
2. Slice the tofu into eight equal pieces widthwise, then slice those rectangles corner to corner to form long triangles.
3. Place in a single layer on a large plate and pour 6 tablespoons of the dressing over the slices. Also drizzle 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. Let marinate, flipping occasionally, while you prepare everything else.
4. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Usually they say to boil water, turn off the heat, and soak the noodles for about 8 minutes. Once cooked, drain in a colander and run the noodles under cold water for about a minute until they are fully cooled. Set aside to drain while you finish prepping everything.
5. Mix all of the vegetables and the mint leaves into the noodles. Just use your hands–it’s messy, but the best way I found to incorporate everything. Mix the dressing into the noodles and toss to coat. Refrigerate while you prepare everything else.
6. Combine the gremolata indredients in a small bowl.
7. Now grill the tofu. Preheat a non-stick grill pan or a cast-iron grill pan or a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Do not spray a non-stick pan with oil–it will ruin it! The tofu will not stick! If you only have a cast-iron pan you will have to spray it or the tofu might stick. Grill the tofu on each side for 4 minutes, or until grill marks appear. If using just a regular pan, cook it for 3 minutes on each side. Add the excess marinade to the noodles.
To serve: Scoop the noodles into six pretty bowls. Wedge two or three tofu peices on the side of each bowl. Sprinkle with the gremolata and serve with lime wedges and extra chili garlic sauce.