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Recipe  •  7 July 2022

 

Zingy Vietnamese-Style Noodles with Fried Sesame Tofu

For a nutritious meal you can whip up in a flash without compromising on delicious flavour, you can't go past this.

A must make! The sticky sesame tofu works beautifully in this dish, but you could swap it for mushrooms (see variation), prawns, shredded chicken or fish. This is one of my all-time favourite dressings. I also like to drizzle it on roasted cauliflower, baked squash and fried Brussels sprouts. I love thin rice vermicelli for speed, but cook up any type of noodles you like. This is also fantastic with leftover cooked rice or quinoa, and use vegan fish sauce to make this completely plant-based.

Serves 4, 25 minutes

  • 280g extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp mixed sesame seeds

Dressing

  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (vegan if you prefer)
  • tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Thai chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, or 2 squirts of chilli sauce (or to taste)

Noodle Salad

  • 300g thin (rice or mung bean) dried vermicelli
  • 2 handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (such as coriander, basil and mint – see tip)
  • Leaves from 2 Little Gem lettuces
  • 2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
  • 2 carrots and ½ cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 handfuls of finely sliced radishes or cabbage

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or place in a clean screw-top jar and shake well.

Drain the tofu well. Chop into 2cm cubes, then pat dry in a clean tea towel. Pop into a bowl, stir in 2 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the dried vermicelli in a large, wide heatproof serving bowl, pour over some just-boiled water and leave for the length of time specified on the packet – usually around 5–8 minutes.

Keep the leaves of the fresh herbs whole and finely chop the stalks (discarding any mint stalks – or use in mint tea!) and tear the lettuce leaves.

Heat up a large frying pan, add the cashews or peanuts and toast on a medium heat for 2 minutes until lightly golden, then tip onto a chopping board and roughly chop.

Pop the pan back on the heat and melt the coconut oil. Using tongs, place the tofu pieces in the pan, spacing them out, and fry on a medium-high heat for 4–5 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 4 minutes. Try to leave them undisturbed as they fry so they go lightly golden and then, during the final minute of cooking, stir in the maple syrup and sesame seeds and remove from the heat.

Drain the noodles once they are tender (test one by eating it), wipe the bowl out with a clean tea towel and then pop the noodles back in the bowl, roughly snipping with scissors so they are easier to eat.

Drizzle over half of the dressing, add the herbs and veg and toss together in the bowl. Scatter over the tofu, then sprinkle the nuts on top to finish. Serve with extra dressing on the side so that everyone can add more if they like.

Tip: Look out for Thai basil and Vietnamese mint.

Variation: Swap the tofu for 250g mushrooms (my favourite are shiitake), roughly chopped, and fry in the same way as the tofu.

EXTRACTED FROM FEEL GOOD BY MELISSA HEMSLEY. Photography by Lizzie Mayson.

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Feel Good Tony Chiodo, Melissa Hemsley

Simple, healthy cooking from bestselling author and Telegraph columnist Melissa Hemsley. For fans of Melissa's Good + Simple (53k), Deliciously Ella Quick and Easy (53k), Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite (23k) and Anna Jones' One.

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