Don’t you love rediscovering an old favourite? Whether a book, old movie or cherished item of clothing, it’s always nice to stumble across our long-forgotten loves. That’s what happened this week in my kitchen, with (predictably) a recipe for (perhaps unpredictably) a stir-fry.
Last Sunday, I told you that I was planning on making several Asian dishes over the week. What used to be a regular occurance in my flat had become rare: Chinese flavours had given way to Indian ones, Thai dishes had stepped aside for Italian. And although no one can say anything against curries or pastas (not to me, anyway- I wouldn’t let them), I admit I was getting a little bored.
It was Andrew who reminded me of this noodle stir-fry, which used to appear almost weekly on our table. It’s one of his favourite-ever dishes, so I felt a little guilty when I calculated that I hadn’t made it in, oh, six months or so. Realising that it was precisely the kind of thing I was craving too, I set about prepping what’s become known to us as “Peanut Thai Noodle”.
There’s a lot more than just peanuts and noodles going on here, of course. This dish is packed with vegetables and proteins, not to mention flavour. Broccoli, carrot and red bell pepper wrangle for room with tofu and shrimp. The sauce, a delicious blend of sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and peanut butter, has taken me several years to perfect, but it’s there now: tangy, sweet, salty and spicy.
Like many stir-fries, this isn’t exactly effortless to put together. There’s a lot of chopping, mincing and mixing to do, but you’ll forget all that, once you taste it. After polishing off a huge bowl of this, I turned to Andrew and happily announced “I could eat that again”. So if you’re listening, Peanut Thai Noodle- I’m so sorry. I’ll never abandon you again, I promise.
- Peanut Thai Noodle
- serves 2-3
3 Tbs. sesame oil
2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. smooth peanut butter
1 Tbs. lime juice (about half a lime’s worth)
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
125g egg noodles (your favourite kind for stir-fries)
2 Tbs.+1 tsp. vegetable oil
140g firm tofu, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 very small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
100g raw shrimp, shelled and de-veined
2 garlic cloves, minced
1″ piece of ginger, minced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh coriander
2 Tbs. chopped green onions
- 1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the sauce and whisk until smooth- it will take a while because of the peanut butter, but keep at it. (Alternatively, you can always put everything into a watertight plastic container and shake it into submission.) Set aside sauce until later.
2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt it generously. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the tofu and cook for about 8 minutes, until browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to cool.
4. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and throw in the vegetables. Cook for 8-10 minutes until cooked through but still crisp. (To speed this up, I sometimes add a splash of water and partially cover the pan, allowing the veg to steam a bit before I remove the lid and crisp them up. It works well, but don’t use too much water- you don’t want the veg soggy.)
5. Add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes until they become pink. Then return the tofu to the pan, and push everything to the perimeter. Into the space you’ve made in the middle of the pan, add the final teaspoon of oil then the minced garlic and ginger. Stir the garlic and ginger around in the oil for about a minute, until everything becomes fragrant.
6. Pour the sauce into the pan, and add the noodles. As soon as the sauce begins to bubble, turn off the heat. Using a pair of spoons or some rubber tongs, toss pan contents together so everything is evenly coated. At the last minute, toss in the coriander. Serve garnished with the green onion.