Raw Noodles with Tofu

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Happy Noodles", vegan pad thai or as they say in Swedish raw nudlar. Either way if you've never tried zucchini noodles then this is a good way to ease into it and feel good about almost eating everything in the raw. A leaf salad doesn't count. I've always been a little skeptical about the taste of raw zucchini, it looks fabulous in pictures but it's a lot of zucchini to be munching down in the raw. And I love my zucchini grilled and if I'm going to be honest, on occasion fried, wafer thin slices shallow fried until crisp around the edges... moorish. So heres the thing after eating my fair raw share, you need a sauce that packs a punch to cut through the vegetable. I've tried a marinara sauce and pesto with the "noodles", it was okay but not suited to the many years training my palate has undergone having eaten spice driven Indian and Arabic food. It wasn't until I dropped into Sen Street Kitchen here in Stockholm for a bowl of their happy noodles did I change my mind about zucchini noodles. Their spirals of zucchini and other salad ingredients interwined in a bright tamarind sauce were super good.

In the absence of a tamarind sauce to call my own I've entrusted my noodles with a bold peanut sauce. It's one of those sauces that is not set in stone, taste as you go along adjusting the lime juice, sweetness and so forth. It's so good you'll want to drink it in shots. It is a variation of Australian whole foods chef Jude Blereau's dragon bowl sauce. I've also coated my tofu in kudzu before frying as I like tofu with a bit of a "batter" though it's completely up to you.

Raw Noodles with Tofu
Don't be limited by the other vegetables, whatever is in your fridge can be a nice complement to the zucchini.

Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp grated ginger (you will need a extra tsp see below)
1 1/2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp brown rice syrup
3 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp coconut milk

1 large zucchini
1 large carrot
1/8 red cabbage
1 small cucumber
250g tofu, cubed
1 tbsp kudzu powder or cornflour (optional)
sesame oil for frying
1 tsp grated ginger
handful bean sprouts
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, lightly crushed
2 tsp sesame seeds (black/white or a mix)
2 limes

Blend all the sauce ingredients to a smooth uniform consistency. Tweak according to taste. Set aside.

A mandolin works great here or if you have a spiralizer that will up the aesthetics somewhat. Otherwise the standard box grater will do the job. Grate the zucchini, carrot and red cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Deseed the cucumber and also grate. Before adding to the zucchini mix, squeeze (using your hands) the cucumber over a large strainer to remove as much water as possible. Set aside the vegetables.

Toss the tofu with kudzu powder and a little salt. Heat up enough sesame oil to cover the base of a frying pan and when hot add the tofu. Lightly fry until almost golden then add the teaspoon of grated ginger, stir and continue to fry until golden. Remove and drain on a kitchen paper towel.

Add most of the peanut sauce to the vegetables and carefully coat until everything is nicely slathered. Transfer mix to a serving bowl and add the tofu, bean sprouts and coriander. Toss together and sprinkle with the crushed peanuts and sesame seeds. Serve with wedges/cheeks of lime and the remaining sauce.

Serves 4-6.