Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Fitness magazine ran a piece this month on cooking healthfully and with a budget in mind. Each dish they made totaled all of $3 or $4 a serving, and usually yielded four servings. Some of the recipes sounded good; some sounded crazy; some sounded like they were shopping at the world’s cheapest grocery store. This recipe is a modification of one they had that called for half as much tofu and twice as many peppers. It’s still pretty inexpensive–I hate spending lots of money on dinner, it’s a thing with me–and really yummy. And indeed, it yielded four servings. It might have been less than $2.37/each, matching Fitness’ estimate, as I had a bunch of this stuff on hand (though how much 2T of brown sugar costs would take some sorting out) and peppers were on sale very inexpensively last week. $2.50 peppers + $2.50 tofu + half-package noodles=$5.75.

The first difference between their recipe and mine was that I used rice noodles instead of linguine. I thought I had linguine but it turned out I was wrong; I did, however, have a package of extra-wide rice noodles from my last trip to A Dong Asian market. Seriously, that’s what it’s called. Go read Mr. Pea’s post about it if you don’t believe me. Rice noodles of this size are easy to work with and suited this recipe quite well.

I also overhauled the sauce recipe based on what I had on hand. We were out of hoisin but had oyster sauce, and I added brown sugar to compensate for sweetness. I also have learned that you can’t simply stir a peanut sauce together, especially if you’re using all-natural peanut butter. It lacks the stabilizers that make Skippy or Jiff really creamy. You need to use some heat to get it to work.

Anyway, here’s how it goes:
Begin by draining 1 block of extra-firm tofu

Mix your sauce:
6 T natural peanut butter
6 T oyster sauce
2 T or so brown sugar (taste test it as you go. I don’t like it very sweet)
1 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
a few T hot water (try stirring, see if it loosens up some)
and then nuke it for 30-60 seconds, stirring to get it to smooth out

Then:
slice a red pepper and green pepper thinly
grate a couple of carrots so you have 1 c of shreds

and cook your noodles. Rice noodles are supposed to soak an hour or so, but I cheated and boiled them for 7 minutes until just underdone. When they are just about ready (so they have two minutes left), add peppers. With one minute left, ad carrots and tofu. Drain altogether. This gently cooks your veggie just a little so they have a good deal of crispness left but aren’t so sharp. Peppers to me sometimes have a hard edge–kind of a tang, I guess–and this helps alleviate it.

Mix everything together. Yum!

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