January 21, 2012

Peanutty noodles

I was trying to make pad thai tonight when I realized I was completely out of tamarind paste. Since my only options for obtaining this crucial ingredient are the ethnic stores in town (which all are closed after 6 pm) I came up with this erroneous pad-thai inspired noodle dish. S and K, this recipe is largely from you guys, since you shared a similar recipe with me a few years back.

Sauteed tofu and these distelzwam mushrooms lend a meaty bite; this dish is 75% veggies and 25% noodles. 
Distelzwam are king trumpet mushrooms found in the oyster family of mushrooms. They are the largest types of oyster mushrooms. I bought them from the Mushroom Guy at the Heverlee market. This dish tastes like stir fried veggies in a peanut-sauce all mixed up with noodles, and served piping hot. While not authentic, it certainly made it on our list of faves.

Press the tofu first. Then cut up all the veggies, it should take you about 20-30 minutes depending on how fast you can cut up everything. Have all the veggies cut up before you get started. This pairs excellently with a cold spicy saison (such as St. Feuillien Saison).

Peanutty noodles
Ingredients: listed in order of use

Serves: 4
1 package tofu, drained and pressed
liberal amounts of peanut oil (I probably used about ¼ cup total).
3 distelzwam mushrooms quartered, or 1 cup whole button mushrooms, quartered
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup sugar snaps or snow peas, kept whole
1 cup vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
½ cup peanut butter, natural style - don't use sweetened pb!
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp or more rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
red chili flakes to taste (1 tsp for spicy; 1/2 tsp for medium; 1/4 tsp for mild)
½ cup red onion, sliced fine
3 cups shredded napa or savoy cabbage, chopped fine
1 large bunch of green onions chopped (enough for about ½ cup, be liberal they melt into the dish)
8 oz rice noodles, cooked according to package directions.
cilantro for garnish

Have all the stir-fry ingredients ready. I managed to use 4 burners, with my main saute pan ready for the veggies, a (new!) cast iron pan for the tofu, a large pot for the rice noodles, and a medium saucepan for the sauce. Stir-fry ingredients: red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, red onion slices, mushrooms, cabbage, green onions, and tofu.
Sauce ingredients: garlic, ginger, vegetable broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, red chili flakes, and liberal amounts of fresh green onions (to taste).

  1. Heat up 2 tbsp of peanut oil in the cast iron over medium-high heat. Once hot add in tofu making sure to not crowd the pan. Don’t touch them for at least 5 minutes. They will start to become golden on the bottom. Even then, don’t touch. Just pick up the pan, give it a whirl to move the oil around, and set down to allow the tofu to cook.
  2. In your saute pan (medium high heat) or wok (high heat). Add in about 1 to 2 tsps of peanut oil, once hot add in the mushroom and stir fry until they look seared and golden. Remove.
  3. Add in peppers and stir fry until they look seared and golden. Add in sugar snaps. The sugar snaps will brighten, once they brighten remove everything. Remove them from the pan and shut the heat off.
  4. Check the tofu, begin to flip them over when golden brown and crisp on the bottom; remove cooked pieces, replacing them with new ones. The cast iron should ensure that the tofu pieces don’t stick. Having a really nice quality pressed tofu is the key. My Belgian friends always complain about tofu because the commercially available tofu sucks (Alpro I’m calling you out). It’s too wet and spongey. The Thai/Korean markets have excellent pressed tofu, slightly tangy, and so perfectly pressed it looks like paneer. Remove the tofu to a plate once all the pieces are golden-brown. If there is any oil left in the pan, carefully pour it into the saute pan.
  5. Start heating up the water for the rice noodles.
  6. In the medium saucepan, add the veggie broth, ginger, garlic, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, red chili flakes, toasted sesame seeds, and chives. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens (should take 10-12 minutes).
  7. Add rice noodles to the large pot of boiling water. Boil for about 2 minutes and shut the heat off. Add a tsp of oil to the water and let the noodles soften up; the oil should keep them from sticking.
  8. Add oil to the saute pan or wok, if needed and turn the heat back on. Once hot, add the red onions and stir them around until they begin to wilt and look cooked, add in green onions and cabbage. Stir everything together for about 4-5 minutes. Add in the red bell peppers, snow peas, and mushrooms (to heat them back up).
  9. Drain the rice noodles into a colander, and add them into the saute pan along with the sauce. Mix together carefully by folding the sauce through the noodles (this will also reduce the amount of splatters on your arms).
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.


  1. Did you mean the veggie-cutting pairs well with a cold spicy St. Feuillien saison? I bet it does, and it certainly makes the cutting job a lot more fun, but when you do combine knife skills & cutting veggies, please do mind your fingers! :)

    BTW, yes tamarind is traditional for pad thai, but I learned in Thailand that it is actually less "essential" than you might think. A pad thai without tamarind is a different thing, but it can still be called pad thai, and it's pretty tasty!

  2. So instead peanutty pad thai noodles? I just pulled out several bottles of beer from our "storage." I'm going with they pair well with veggie-cutting. Btw, we tried the Tank 7! Zeer lekker met drooge smaak.

  3. No, no peanuts in pad thai ;-) You can get the sour component that tamarind provides with kaffir lime zest, for example..

    Glad the Tank 7 turned out! Inderdaad, lekker droog :)