Sweet 'n Spicy Tofu-Noodle Salad

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This is one of those salads I’ve made for years without an official recipe.  You can throw it together with just about any crunchy vegetables you have on-hand and it’s pretty forgiving: You can leave out a thing or two, or add something new, and it still tastes fantastic.  It’s just the kind of  salad I like to keep in the fridge in the summertime: cool and hot, spicy and sweet.  And cubed tofu gives it enough protein to make it a meal.  (You can substitute  half a pound of cooked chicken breast or shrimp, if you prefer.)

The best part is that this salad gets better after a few days.  The vinegar dressing soaks into the rice noodles, and the chili oil gets deep and hot.

Salad

1.5 ounces Maifun rice vermicelli* (about 1/4 package)DSC_0026
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into matchstick-size slivers
1/4 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchstick-size slivers
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely choppedDSC_0020
1/4 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded green cabbage
7 ounces firm tofu, diced into 1/2 inch cubes

Dressing

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian chili oil*
1 tablespoon soy sauceDSC_0033 copy
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil*
1 tablespoon sugar
juice of 1/2 lime

Place the rice vermicelli in a medium bowl and cover with scalding hot tap water.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let soak for at least 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables, washing and trimming thoroughly before chopping.  Drain the noodles and transfer to a large bowl.  Add  the chopped vegetables (carrot through cabbage) and the tofu cubes and toss gently to combine.

In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk thoroughly.  Pour over noodle mixture and toss until thoroughly coated.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow the flavors to develop.  Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve cold.

*Check the Asian food aisle at your local grocery store, or an Asian market if you have access to one.

Tip: If you plan to serve this at a party or any other situation in which you are concerned about presentation, fold in the chopped mint at the last minute.  The acidity in the dressing will wilt the mint and turn it black after a few hours in the fridge, which while not harmful doesn’t look terribly appetizing.

If you like the Vietnamese-inspired flavors of this salad, be sure to check out this recipe for fresh spring rolls with shrimp, mint, and cilantro.  Another summertime favorite…

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9 Responses to Sweet 'n Spicy Tofu-Noodle Salad

  1. Yum! Basically Vietnamese “bun”, though in my house we colloquially call it “noodle bowl”. Fresh mango is really good in it too.

  2. Michelle says:

    You know, I have never tried tofu, but I have it on my grocery list to include in an edamame hummus I found. I’m going to have to branch out and try some new foods. I’m always trying to get my kids to do it, so I need to join them I guess!

  3. Miri says:

    Michelle: Tofu is so versatile and nutritious, you should try it! Your edamame hummus recipe sounds quite adventurous — I’d like to try it if you like it. Be sure to let me know.

  4. Miri says:

    Michael – You guessed it! This recipe was inspired by a salad at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland, Pho 84.

  5. This looks so good!!! So vibrant! Tofu, is about the one food that I have never been able to get right.

  6. Larry says:

    Mouthwatering. This is right up my alley, and right on time as I have been trying to incorporate more vegi meals into my diet.

  7. Miri says:

    Larry and Jen: I’m soooo happy that I’ve been able to provide you both with a bit of yummy meatless inspiration. :)

  8. Tricia Rose says:

    I make this using green chili slices instead of chili oil, and the zest of the lime as well – I’ll try it with the chili oil instead, might be fewer heart-stopping solid-slice-of-chili moments.

  9. Cate says:

    I absolutely love salads like this! I always adapt the recipe to suit whatever is on hand. I agree the flavor gets better after a few days, but the salad rarely lasts that long!

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