Friday, August 20, 2010

Asian Rice Noodle Slaw

While mentally scouring my fridge for ingredients to combine into a palatable dinner meal tonight, I realized I had the makings of a decent raw Asian meal. I had a few packages of Vietnamese rice noodles (fettucini width), plus a fridge full of organic veggies from our farm. I always keep ingredients for Asian sauces on hand.** With a little help from the shredding attachment on my food processor, this meal came together in about 45 minutes and the dishwasher is taking care of all the cleanup. I'm a slow cook - you could probably pull it together in half an hour. I'm easily distracted while in the kitchen. I'm also not good at keeping track of what I put in my meals, which is why I can rarely recreate a recipe. So take these measurements with a grain of salt. This recipe provided enough for large portions for Scott and me, smaller portions for the girls, and the bowl of leftovers pictured above. This is one of those meals that will probably taste even better the next day.

For the slaw:
20 oz. rice noodles
oil (peanut, walnut, or vegetable oil)
toasted sesame oil
rice vinegar
1 cucumber, shredded
3 carrots, shredded
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
2 broccoli stalks, shredded (not the florets, just the stalks)
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
5-6 basil leaves, finely chopped
handful chopped peanuts

For the sauce:
juice of one large lime or two key limes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T sesame seeds
2 T peanut butter
1 T fish sauce
chopped cilantro
soy sauce
sugar, honey, or other sweetener
red pepper flakes

Cover noodles in boiling water and leave them to soak for 10 minutes or until al dente. When the noodles are finished, drain and rinse in cold water. Toss with oil, rice vinegar (I used unseasoned), and a dash of sesame oil until the noodles are coated. Combine with shredded cucumber, carrots, cabbage (red would look nicer but green works fine), broccoli stalks, green onions, cilantro, basil, and chopped peanuts. Shredded red, orange, or yellow bell peppers would make a nice addition. Combine veggies with noodles and put in the fridge to chill.

For the sauce...the ratios really depend on your taste. It would work best to combine the sauce ingredients in a blender, but I did it with a fork in a 2-cup Pyrex because I don't like to use more than one appliance per meal and I'd already used the food processor. If you don't keep fish sauce around, leave it out. I am low on honey, so I used sugar instead. Probably around 2T of it, maybe a smidge more. If you're using seasoned rice vinegar, you'll use less sugar/honey. I didn't add enough soy sauce to begin with, so I ended up tossing the noodles with a bit more after we started eating. I'm a mix/taste/add/repeat kind of cook.

**For Asian cooking, you should keep your pantry stocked with soy sauce (duh), toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, fish sauce or oyster sauce, sesame seeds (buy them in a big bottle in the Asian section, not in the little expensive bottle in the seasoning aisle), peanuts or cashews, red pepper sauce and/or red pepper flakes. I also keep hoisin sauce, red curry paste, and (finally) tamarind paste (for pad thai), which is ridiculously difficult to find in my neighborhood. (I think this paragraph needs a few more parenthesis.) What pantry items am I forgetting?

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