What do you do when you have a tub of tofu nearing expiration and a stalk of lemongrass screaming to be used?
Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I made a super quick, super easy, super tasty lunch – all in 10 minutes. (Not counting the baking time of the tofu).
The lemongrass automatically made me think “Thai”, so I started gathering up other ingredients that went along with that theme. Red Thai chilies, dry roasted peanuts, noodles, peanut butter, ginger, garlic, etc. Looking at what I had laid out on the counter I decided to go with a pasta dish with a sweet and spicy lemongrass-peanut sauce. This would have worked perfectly with chicken as well, but I had that screaming tofu, remember? (Or was it the lemongrass that was screaming? I don’t remember.) In any case, the tofu was begging to be used and so I had mercy on it and granted it its dying wish: To be used in a way that would pay homage to its being, reflect the beauty of its legacy. I did just that and made Thai Peanut Tofu Noodles.
Whether you use tofu or substitute with chicken, you’re going to love this simple, quick and delicious dish.
Let’s get Thai cookin’!
If using chicken, see recipe printout for instructions.
Dice up the tofu and place it in a bowl.
Combine the marinade ingredients.
Pour the marinade evenly over the tofu cubes and let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Spread the screaming tofu cubes (sorry, I keep forgetting that was the lemongrass) out on a baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil (discard the marinade) and bake in a preheated oven of 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until desired texture is reached, turning over with a spatula after 15 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter. If using “firm” tofu (as opposed to “extra firm”), bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Peel and discard the outer layers of the lemongrass. You only want to use the softer, inner white part towards the base of the stalk.
Look at this lovely, non-screaming tofu. Even those of you who dislike tofu have to admit this is lookin’ pretty good. Remove the tofu from the oven and set aside. (Ideally, you’ll be preparing all the other ingredients while the tofu is baking so it’s all ready to be tossed together at the end.)
Saute the ginger, garlic, lemongrass and red chilies for about 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.
Add the sauce ingredients to the saucepan.
Squeeze a couple of teaspoons of lime juice and add it to the sauce. This is going to add a touch of yummy freshness to the spiciness of the dish. Simmer the sauce for one minute.
Add the broth to the peanut sauce to thin it out and simmer for another minutes.
Cook the noodles as instructed. I used Udon noodles because that’s what I had on hand. You can also use Chinese egg noodles, spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, fettuccine, etc.
Slice the green onions and julienne some carrots. Cut off a couple of chunks of carrot, about an inch long. Cut it in vertical slabs, then slice it again vertically into thin strips.
Lovely julienned carrots that will add color and texture to your finished dish.
Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl.
Add the tofu, peanuts, carrots and green onions. Look at this beautiful array of colors and textures. But we’re not finished yet so don’t start eating!
Toss to combine the ingredients.
Pour that heavenly Thai peanut sauce over the noodles.
Carefully stir and toss to combine and thoroughly coat the pasta. That’s it, you’re done!
Serve warm or cold. A nice cool, crispy cucumber salad would make a nice accompaniment.
Asian food lovers, don’t forget to try this recipe for the Best Homemade Teriyaki Sauce!
- 14 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes (or 1 lb chicken breast cut into cubes)
- For the marinade:
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons lemongrass, minced
- 1 red Thai chile, seeds carefully discarded (if you like really spicy, leave in some of the seeds), diced
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup creamy natural and unsweetened peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1½ teaspoons brown sugar
- ⅓ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- ⅓ cup dry roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup green onions, sliced
- ¼ cup carrots, julienned
- 8 oz uncooked udon, Chinese egg noodles, or spaghetti, cooked al dente according to package directions.
- Combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the tofu cubes in a medium bowl. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes. If using chicken, follow the same marinading procedure.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the tofu cubes on a baking sheet sprayed with vegetable spray. and bake the tofu for 20-25 minutes or until desired texture is reached. Turn the cubes with a spatula after 15 minutes, then again every 5 minutes. (If using "firm" tofu, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes). Remove from oven and set aside.
- If using chicken, discard the marinade and fry the chicken in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep in a warmed oven. Use the same skillet to make the sauce.
- Add a little oil to the skillet and saute the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chilies for 1-2 minutes until very fragrant. Add the soy sauce, peanut butter, white wine vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Simmer for 1 minute until ingredients are fully combined. Add the broth to thin out the sauce and simmer for another minute.
- Place the cooked noodles in a warmed bowl. Add the tofu or chicken, peanuts, green onions, and carrots. Toss to combine. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and carefully stir and toss until the noodles are evenly coated.
- Serve warm or cold. A cold, crispy cucumber salad would make a nice accompaniment.