Asian salad with ginger peanut dressing - And a mini plant noodle guide
Dear readers, I've missed talking with you here. As I draw closer to the deadline when my book manuscript needs to be finished, there's been little focus and time left for the blog. But I have been dying to update here from the sea of ideas that wash over me during the book writing. Though I cannot publish the recipes that will be in the book here, I developed a recipe for a Swedish magazine recently that I really love to bits so I'm sharing it here with all you lovers of Asian flavours.
Whenever I post a zoodle or plant based noodle dish on Instagram, I notice that this way of replacing wheat pasta with plant noodles is not familiar to everyone out there so I've written a mini "zoodle and plant noodle" guide further down this post.
Back to this salad: it's fresh, delicious and reminiscent of the flavour in raw Asian spring rolls - very crisp and raw, with a sauce that sets a strong edge. If you like raw pad Thai, you will be somewhat familiar with the direction.
This dish has three main elements:
- A cool fresh salad with coriander, sprouts, scallions and crispy romaine salad.
- Tofu, cooked in the best way possible - crispy fried and flavoured with chilli, soy and maple syrup
- A peanut sauce - with strong character that defines the dish!
Tofu can be tricky! And personally I don't think marinating tofu is a super idea - you want the tofu to be as dry as possible. A tip is to use use firm tofu and press it between two plates. Place something heavy above the top plate to really squeeze out extra fluids.
Fry the tofu just before serving as it stays fresh and crisp in flavour only for a short while.
A little extra note on buying tofu: buy organic tofu from the organic food store if you can. If you're not sure that you want to eat GMO then that's your best choice since most tofu sold elsewhere is most likely originating from a GMO crop.
It's all in the sauce: I like a strong punch, so I maxed the lime, ginger and shoy for a strong flavour. Though taste buds are like people - often different - I've made an option in the recipe so that you can choose a milder or stronger flavour.
ZOODLES AND OTHER PLANT NOODLES
Zoodles are bands of spiralized raw zucchini. They're perfect to use as a substitute for any pasta or noodle dish, personally I think they fit the best with Mediterranean dishes, like vegetarian lentil Bolognese and just simply with tomato, pesto, parmesan; or just herbs, olive oil and salt. There is one minus with zoodles - they release the plant juices easily and therefore lose their bouncy shape and go soggy fast, especially in a sauce. They can add to the juiciness of a dish and some people like that a lot. Though with food styling or if you're making an Instagram shot, you might wanna consider adding the zoodles just before it's time to shoot or serve for a firmer zoodle.
Carrots make great noodles, they stay firm and have a delicious and slightly sweet taste. They work across many flavour palates, but pair extra well with North African and Indian dishes, regions where carrot salads are a common cooling contrast to spicier ingredients.
Daikon noodles ( doodles :D )
I made daikon noodles recently and they look magical as you can see in the image above. They're almost perfect in every sense, from appearance, to taste and firmness, and they fit wonderfully with Asian dishes. There's just one catch, daikon smells of sulphur!! And when you spiralize a whole daikon, it can be at bit overwhelming for a sensitive nose. Serving doodles is a risk! I experienced that half of the table loved it while the other half couldn't bare the smell. There could be ways of masking the sulphuric smell with vinegar to try for experimental home cooks.
Sweet potato, parnsip and all other plants that can be spiralized.
Plenty of plants can become plant noodles. If they're firm enough, can be eaten raw, and fit into the spiralizing tool - there's no reason not to get creative. Raw sweet potato noodles are delicious, as are parnsip. Explore new kinds of noodles by spiralizing your veggies at home.
There are tools that cost a pretty penny and then there's a whole range down to really cheap ones. I've got a little plastic cone that was less then 10 euros (10 dollars) and it's easy to use. But you don't need to have a special tool, although it's quite fun and useful if you find one you like. You can also make tagliatelle shaped zoodles with a cheese slicer and a knife. Sometimes I also use a julienne knife that cuts beautiful straight thin slices of vegetables. Anything that slices thin will do.
Asian salad with cripsy tofu and peanut sauce
250g firm tofu
600 g zucchini or other noodles (carrot, or regular cold cooked soba noodles work like a charm too)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp tamari soy
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp shichimi togarashi or other chilli flakes
150 g romaine lettuce
2 handfuls chopped coriander
2 handfuls beansprouts
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
salt to taste
100 ml natural peanut butter
2-4 tbsp tamari soy (use 2 tbsp for a milder sauce - and up to 4 tbsp for a stronger punch)
2-4 tbsp fresh lime juice (use 2 tbsp for a milder sauce - and up to 4 tbsp for a stronger punch)
2 tbsp rape seed oil
½ -1 tbsp fresh ginger grated(use ½ tbsp for a milder sauce and 1 for a stronger punch)
2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
water to thin
Mix the ingredients for the peanut sauce until smooth, add water to thin to desired thickness.
Spiralize the zucchini into zoodles. Shred the romaine lettuce and cut the scallions into thin rounds. Split and deseed the avocado, cut it into small pieces. Mix maple syrup, tamari, lime juice, sesame oil and chilli flakes.
Stir and fry the tofu in a pan with 1-2 tbsp rape seed oil on medium to high heat until it's golden and crispy, pour over the tamari mix and allow the tofu to absorb it. Remove from heat.
Mix the zoodles, romaine lettuce, scallions, avocado, coriander, bean sprouts and sprinkle a little salt over. Divide into serving bowls and top with tofu and sesame seeds. Serve straight away with the peanut sauce.