Rice Noodle Salad

Summer is waning, I’m sorry to say. Instead of a blast of already-100-degree heat on my face when I leave for work in the mornings, it’s pleasant, even cool sometimes. It’s a bittersweet time of year because although it’s nice to have a relief from the oppressive heat, I hate to see summer end. Fortunately (or not), it’s usually still quite warm to hot during the day, especially when you are cleaning raccoon enclosures. So last night’s dinner was still a welcome almost-no-cook treat.

Rice Noodle Salad

1 package rice noodles – I used wide ones, but thinner ones would work too
1 huge or 3 smaller carrots, cut on a spiralizer or julienned
1 small daikon, cut on a spiralizer or julienned
1 cucumber, cut on a spiralizer or julienned
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 small head Savoy (or about 2 cups Napa) cabbage, shredded
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup peanuts, crushed

For the dressing
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 red chili pepper, minced

If you really don’t want to cook anything, soak the noodles in very hot water. I’m too impatient to do that and always boil mine for a couple of minutes. When they are al dente, drain them, rinse under cold water, and toss with some toasted sesame oil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prep all of the vegetables. Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients. Then toss everything together except the peanuts and scallions. I used my hands to mix everything together before realizing that was a really stupid move considering I used a jolokia pepper in the sauce, but for some reason, it didn’t burn. (I’m not convinced what this farmer is selling to Whole Foods as jolokia peppers are really jolokias; they’re not that hot.)

Top with crushed peanuts and scallions. Serve with sriracha.

I also served tofu puffs with a sweet chili-vinegar dipping sauce. Super H sells these tofu puffs, which Mark loves:

I cut them in half and toast them in the toaster oven for one to two toast cycles to warm them up and make them slightly crispy outside:

I make a dipping sauce for them based on a recipe I got off the internet many, many years ago, back when I actually owned one of those evil appliances called a printer and used to print out recipes and store them in a huge, untamed notebook. I think I lost the printout so I can’t tell you where I got the recipe (I think a Thai recipe site) or if I’m even still making it as directed.

Sweet Chili-Vinegar Dipping Sauce

3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
pinch of salt

Whisk everything together.

Serve with the warmed tofu puffs.

Now, about those raccoons. They’re often asleep when I arrive to clean their enclosure.

You learn very quickly to NEVER put ANYTHING you don’t want mutilated within reach of a raccoon. They are extremely devious! Here is one on its back destroying a paper towel I made the mistake of putting down for half a second.

But seriously, how could you possibly be mad at this face?

Or this one?

Answer: you can’t.

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Fastest Pad Thai Ever

I made some Faux Pho for dinner last night and made way too many noodles. So today when I was rummaging in the refrigerator for something to make for lunch, it was obvious I should base it around the leftover rice noodles, and maybe it was the peanut butter sriracha cookie I was nibbling while I thought, but the first thing that came to mind was pad thai. Now, pad thai is really not a very time consuming dish to make to begin with, so there is little need to try to speed it up. And traditionally there is no peanut butter in pad thai. But for a nearly-instant lunch, this was really very tasty. If, like me, most of your at-work lunches are leftovers, this is something you can whip together in three minutes before you leave the house and warm gently in the microwave at the office. I’m afraid my measurements – loose at the best of times – are non-existent here. It’s really up to you to balance out the sweet, salty, and sour flavors the way you like it.

Fastest Pad Thai Ever

cooked rice noodles (this is a great way to use up leftovers, which I tossed very lightly with sesame oil before storing)
peanut butter (smooth or crunchy is okay)
tamarind pulp or concentrate
soy sauce
jaggery (my favorite sugar, available in Indian groceries, and Wegmans is now carrying this product) or brown sugar
sriracha
protein, such as cubed tofu or shredded seitan (optional)
shredded or thinly sliced veggies (optional) – my Quick Pickled Carrots are perfect

Put the peanut butter, tamarind, soy sauce, jaggery or sugar, and sriracha in a blender in proportions that are pleasing to your palate and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors. Thin with water and blend again. Heat for a minute or two in the microwave (or on the stovetop in a small saucepan), and then whisk. If your noodles are cold, warm them in the microwave for a minute or two. Toss everything together.


The pickled carrots are particularly brilliant here because the provide the extra tang that you usually get by squeezing a lime over your noodles, so if you don’t happen to have a lime on hand, you’re covered. For my protein, I used a handful of the shredded seitan chicken from Nature’s Soy, which I get at Super H. Top this with crushed peanuts, cilantro, and/or bean sprouts if you have them on hand, but if you don’t and you’re just going for super fast, this was quite tasty as is.

And today is a Torticia day. Torticia is a silly little animal. I think she’s getting a little pudgy, and although she and Gomez spend hours racing around the house all day, she’s been a bit lazy when I’m playing with her. Whereas Gomez leaps around like an Olympic gymnast trying to catch dangling toys, Torticia often rolls on her back and waits for the toy to come to her. She’s roly poly.

She’s lazy.

She takes naps to recover from naps.

She’s also an extremely cuddly, affectionate, friendly, tolerant, fuzzy, little ball of wonderfulness. This morning when I woke to her sleeping between my legs, as soon as she realized I awake, she snuggled up on my chest and purred and purred and purred and begged to be petted, and snuggled some more, and was basically so incredibly cute it brought tears to my eyes. She’s so loving and warm, and extremely soft and silky. It’s just a joy to touch her.

And then she goes and does something classy like this:

Although really she’s probably the most beautiful cat in the universe.

Comments (10)

Curry Laksa

Let me first say how much I and Mark both appreciate all of the comments we received on my last post about losing Brachtune. It’s been hard for us – the house seems so empty without any animals – but your kind thoughts have been a big comfort. I never really thought anyone would read this blog when I first started it, but having the support of people from around the world when I’m feeling this down is really incredible. Thank you.

Mark’s been battling quite a chest cold for several days now, and I’m hoping this tickle in my throat isn’t going to turn into anything worse. But I happen to think that spicy soups are just the thing at the beginning or end of a cold (or the middle, or, well, any other day, quite frankly), and I had most of a can of coconut milk left from another recipe that I wanted to use up, which got me thinking about laksa. I don’t see laksa much on menus in this area for some reason, although maybe it’s just never found under the vegetarian section so I miss it. So the first time I ever had laksa was actually in Sydney (where it was found under the vegetarian section of a menu). I’d therefore be hard pressed to call myself a laksa expert so the recipe I present here may have little in common with a genuine laksa, but it was spicy and good so I’m presenting it anyway. I used this recipe as a reference for the spices.

Curry Laksa

8 oz rice noodles (either wide or vermicelli)
4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2″ piece ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground dried lemongrass (I bought this at Penzeys for those times I don’t have lemongrass on hand, obviously you can substitute fresh lemongrass)
2 Tbsp sambel olek
peanut oil
3 cubes frozen cilantro (or a handful fresh, chopped)
1 cube frozen basil (or a few leaves fresh)
2 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegan broth
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (this is what I had leftover; I’d just dump an entire can in if I were making this again)
1 carrot, cut into squat matchsticks
1 can young green jackfruit (in brine), shredded
1/4 cup chopped bamboo shoots
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup frozen asparagus stalks, chopped
tofu puffs or frozen fried tofu, chopped
limes, to garnish

I didn’t have a lot of fresh veggies and didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store, which is why my veggies are pretty weird. I’d really have liked to have had bean sprouts, so much so that I almost did make that trip to the store. If I had, I’d have gotten some fresh cilantro and maybe basil (Thai or holy basil if they had it), and some green vegetables of some sort.

Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander, and sambel olek into a small food processor or chopper.

Process until smooth.

Pour some peanut oil into a soup pot over medium heat, then dump the paste from above in and fry until it darkens somewhat (but do not let it burn).

Meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles. I soak them in boiling water until they are done.

Drain the jackfruit. I’m using it as a sort of seafood alternative here, by the way.

Shred it with your fingers.

Add the broth, coconut milk, curry powder, the jackfruit, and any non-frozen veggies that are relatively hard (like the carrots).

Cook until the veggies are almost soft, then add the herbs, frozen veggies, and any other items (except the tofu puffs and bean sprouts, which I’d just top on the soup raw later).

To serve, place some noodles in a large bowl, then ladle the soup over them. Top with the tofu puffs and bean sprouts if you have them. Squeeze the lime over the soup before eating.

I am supposed to tell you that Mark recommends seasoning this with sriracha. Mark, of course, recommends seasoning everything with sriracha.

Comments (6)

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