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Thai Peanut Noodles

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Thai Peanut Noodles
Copyright Darlene A. Schmidt, 08/11/10
Thai Peanut Noodles are made with real peanuts instead of peanut butter - and you'll taste the difference! This dish offers a feast of flavors: nutty, spicy, sweet and sour combined with the chewy-sticky texture of stir-fried rice noodles. Add your choice of chicken or tofu, or make them just with the peanut sauce. The key to this dish is not to over-soften the noodles at the beginning - they need to remain firm in order to be stir-fried later without falling apart. This dish is gluten-free and can also be made vegetarian/vegan (see recipe for link). ENJOY!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: SERVES 2-4 as a Main Entree

Ingredients:

  • 8-12 oz. rice noodles, linguini-width, enough for 2-4 people
  • optional: 1 to 1.5 cups cubed firm tofu, OR chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2-3 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1-3 tsp. sesame oil
  • generous handful fresh basil
  • vegetable oil for stir-frying
  • PEANUT STIR-FRY SAUCE:
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3-4 Tbsp. brown sugar, to taste
  • 1-2 fresh red chilies, minced, OR 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce

Preparation:

For Vegetarian/Vegan Peanut Noodles, see my: Thai Peanut Noodles (Vegan/Gluten-free).

  1. Place cubed tofu or chicken (if using) in a bowl together with 3 Tbsp. soy sauce. Stir to combine and set aside to marinate while you prepare other ingredients.
  2. Stir the tamarind paste into the hot water until dissolved. Pour this mixture into your food processor or blender. Add all other stir-fry sauce ingredients and blitz to create a delicious peanutty stir-fry sauce. Taste-test for sweetness and spice, adding more sugar or chili/cayenne if desired. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and dunk in rice noodles. Turn off the heat, allowing noodles to soak until edible but still firm and slightly 'crunchy' (firmer than 'al dente'). Drain and rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  4. Warm a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp. oil and swirl around, then add the tofu or chicken. Stir fry until tofu is lightly browned or chicken is cooked. Remove from heat and transfer tofu or chicken to a clean bowl. Set aside.
  5. Return wok/pan to heat and add 2-3 Tbsp. more oil. Now add the noodles (you'll hear them sizzle as they hit the hot oil). Using two utensils and a lifting-turning motion, stir-fry the noodles 1 minute.
  6. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the peanut stir-fry sauce, plus the fried tofu or chicken (if using). Continue stir-frying 1-2 more minutes, until sauce is distributed throughout the noodles.
  7. Add the bean sprouts plus a little more of the sauce. Stir-fry and taste-test as you go, adding more sauce until desired taste is achieved. Stir-fry until noodles are soft but still pleasantly chewy. Add more fish salt if not salty enough.
  8. Portion out the noodles into serving bowls or plates. Top each portion with a drizzle of sesasme oil followed by a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds. Sprinkle over the green onion and fresh basil, and ENJOY!

If You Have Leftover Peanut Sauce: Refrigerate any leftover peanut sauce in a covered container up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter. Note that peanut sauce will thicken as it sits, but you can easily thin it out again. If you wish to keep it as a stir-fry sauce, just add water to thin it. To make it into a delicious dip, add up to 1/4 cup coconut milk. Peanut dip is wonderful served with Chicken Satay, or Fresh Rolls, or even as a dressing with a raw vegetable salad. It also makes a terrific marinade for grilled chicken or tofu.

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