If you follow the blog regularly, it will not take long for you to recognize that I love all kinds of Asian food. For the last week, no wait, the last month my two youngest children have developed a nagging obsession with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To complain about the frequent request of such a simple meal seems unappreciative of the little time it takes to make, but I really do tire of washing the waterproof peanut butter off of all my butter knives. So today, I took a stand (and fibbed a little). “Yes, I will make you peanut butter in a minute,” I said to them after the request du jour. Being sly and omitting the word sandwich so that it wasn’t an outright lie. Instead, I concocted the recipe before you...and they ate it, then asked for a sandwich. Now, I get to wash the peanut butter out of my measuring cups and off the butter knives.
Working with tofu
If you have never worked with tofu, here’s a wee crash course. For a meat substitute, I like to use extra firm tofu. This recipe is traditionally made with chicken and called Thai Peanut Chicken, so extra firm tofu is appropriate. It comes in blocks soaked in liquid, of which you do NOT want to keep. Drain the liquid getting as much out of the tofu as possible. By covering it in towels, you will draw out the remaining moisture. I even place handy candles on top to speed the process along. Go ahead, grab an artisan candle and do the same...if you have something more appropriate to weight down the tofu be my guest. Drawing out the liquid makes room for your marinade to invade the tufu, so evict that nasty soybean juice (or whatever it is) and sign a new renter’s agreement with your marinade.
The marinade itself is easy. Combine the ingredients (soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic powder, rice vinegar) and microwave it for a minute. It’s really only the peanut butter that doesn’t want cooperate, so make sure it’s warm enough to mix well. I forgot to use creamy peanut butter at first in my marinade...can you tell? Don’t waste your precious crunchy peanut butter on the marinade.
Once you have the tofu drained and the marinade is ready, let them hang out in the refrigerator for a bit...30 minutes at least. All that tasty marinade will be absorbed and you will no longer taste the ick flavor commonly associated with improperly prepared tofu. Do it right, and you’ll be amazed. While that is going on, work on your peanut sauce. It’s a “pimped out” version of the marinade.
Heat up your onion, garlic and oil in a medium size pot and cook until the veggies are translucent. Add in the liquids (soy sauce, chicken broth) and last, the peanut butter. You can even add in some crushed red pepper if you like it hot.
Prepare your noodles according to the package. After they are done, toss them in 2/3 of your peanut sauce (reserving the rest for topping).
I took a shortcut and used frozen stir fry veggies. HUSH! I was supposed to be making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while the kids were waiting so shortcuts were necessary. Don’t screw with hungry preschool children. They are cute demons-in-waiting.
Once all that is done, it’s time to heat up your veggies and tofu. I used a wok, but it’s not necessary. I am a sucker for authenticity. Feel free to use your skillet. Toss your stir fry veggies in there for a couple minutes (keep them crisp, but not frozen), then add in the tofu. I don’t add both the tofu and veggies in at the same time because, even though the tofu is considered extra-firm, it’s still delicate and can begin to look like scrambled eggs if you do not coddle it like a newborn.
Now that you have cooked all the parts, it’s a matter of assembly. Do what you want here, but I like noodles first, veggies and tofu, then extra sauce (yum!), and then a garnish of crushed peanuts and red pepper. Yeah, about that garnish...I had a jar of honey roasted peanuts hiding in the pantry, so I put it in the food processor and added the peanuts on top.
p.s. Despite how awesome I might appear online, mistakes happen. If you happen to spot one on this recipe, save your fellow cooks a disaster and let me know by using the contact form.
Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce
- Drain the tofu and cover in towels to absorb the excess moisture (get out as much as possible so it has room to “re-absorb” the marinade.”
- In a microwave-safe bowl, make the peanut sauce: combine 1/3 cup peanut butter, rice vinegar, 1/3 cup soy sauce, and garlic powder. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute.
- Alternatively, use the stove on low heat. Heat until the peanut butter is easily combined with the other ingredients.
- Once the moisture from the tofu is removed (about 30 minutes wrapped in a towel), slice the tofu into bite size pieces and dredge it in the marinade. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- While it’s marinating, in a medium pot on medium heat add the oil, garlic, and onions. Cook until the vegetables are translucent (about 4-5 minutes).
- Add in the broth, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and rice vinegar; bring to a low simmer then turn the heat to low and add the 1/2 cup peanut butter and crushed red pepper.
- Stir frequently until the the sauce is completely combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Prepare the rice noodles according to package, drain, and toss in 2/3 of the peanut sauce.
- In a wok or skillet on med-high heat, add the frozen vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding in the marinated tofu. Cook for an additional 2-3 minute or until everything is thoroughly heated.
- Prepare a large bowl: noodles on the bottom, veggies and tofu in the middle, topped with 1/3 peanut sauce, and garnished with crushed peanuts and a pinch of crushed red pepper on top.
- Serve warm. Leftovers can be refrigerated and taste just as good.
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