Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bun Chay

After drinking an entire box of wine and eating nothing but cheese, hummus and pita at a wedding this past weekend, I decided to do my body a little favor and eat some green stuff.

It isn't that often that I overindulge on cheese and wine, but when I do I always feel the need to eat some clean detoxifying foods to help balance everything out.

I've been craving Asian inspired cold noodle dishes lately.. so much crunch.. so much flavor.. and so damn easy!

Soba or udon noodles have always been a favorite of mine, but I thought I would give rice noodles a go this time around to switch it up a bit. They are gluten free (rice, duh) and you can buy them, for like, a buck a package at any Asian market.

For months, I've had my eye on a recipe for bun chay from one of my favorite, "all things food" site, the kitchn. With all of the ingredients on hand, accompanied by a fierce hangover, I decided to throw this together for a quick healthy dinner instead of eating a three pound omelette.

Not only did this tasty meal come together quickly but it was mad yummy. The rice noodles were topped with lots of fresh, crunchy herbs and vegetables, like mint, thai basil, cilantro, cucumber and cabbage. Then, some tofu and peanuts were thrown into the mix for protein and a nice textural contrast. Traditionally, a nuac chom sauce (consisting of fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime, sugar, garlic and chilis) is poured over top, but fish sauce sets off my gag reflex so I concocted my own dipping sauce, swapping out the tamari for rice vinegar. Not authentic, but whatever.. throwing up over the smell of fish sauce wasn't on the agenda.

The tofu really makes the dish as does the herbs (don't skimp) and the sauce is essential, but you can get creative and add whatever fresh, crunchy vegetables you have on hand. I imagine some carrot or daikon raidish would be good, as would some chopped lettuce, baby bok choy or mung bean sprouts.

Bun Chay
Adapted from The Kitchn 
Serves 2

6 oz. rice noodles

I halved the recipe for my salt and pepper tofu, but you can also panfry 1/2 lb. tofu, cut into small cubes in a little peanut oil.

1 1/2 c. shredded cabbage
1/2 cucumber, julliened
Large handful of mixed herbs (thai basil, mint, cilantro)

1/4 c. tamari
3 T. brown rice vinegar
5 T. water
4 T. organic dark brown sugar
2 t. fresh lime juice
1/2 t. grated garlic
2 t. grated ginger
1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
pinch red pepperflakes

1/3 c. chopped roasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the noodles. Cook, stirring occasionally until noodles are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, fluffing the noodles to seperate into strands. Drain again and set aside.
Panfry cubed tofu in a splash of peanut oil over medium heat. Or, whip up a batch of salt and pepper tofu. Set tofu aside to cool.
Prepare the greens and set aside.
To make the sauce, combine the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients and place in the fridge to cool a bit.
To assemble, divide the noodles between two large bowls. Arrange greens and tofu on top and garnish with peanuts. Just before serving, drizzle with sauce to taste and toss.

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