29 March 2011

Noodles with tofu and spicy peanut sauce

I look back with great fondness at the first couple of years after I finished university. It was my first time to be living alone (without roommates), working for money (albeit not much!) and enjoying all the benefits of being 21 years old (if you know what I mean!). I lived the quintessential young professional's life in Washington DC, shuttling between work, the gym, happy hours and in my case dancing salsa which I fell in love with around this time. My studio apartment in Washington DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood had a decent-sized kitchen, and this was where I really started experimenting with cooking.

As my efforts in the gym started paying off and I lost the weight that I had packed on during college, healthy cooking became particularly important to me. A co-worker turned me on to Cooking Light magazine, and soon I signed up for a subscription, waiting with anticipation for each month's issue to arrive. Being keen to try out as many new dishes as possible, I religiously went through every installment, making as many recipes as I could. Talk about beginner's enthusiasm!

One of the Cooking Light recipes that I fell in love with, from the April 2001 issue, was "fettucine and tofu with finger-licking peanut sauce".  Light, packed with protein, cheap to make for my young professional budget, quick and plenty tasty, this Thai-ish recipe was gold! And ten years and a few variations later, it still shows up in my regular dinner repertoire. The funny thing is I made this for my husband for the second dinner I ever cooked for him back when we started dating. He took one bite and then asked me to marry him! And he was only partly joking ;-)

I can't guarantee that these noodles will get you a marriage proposal, but they will make your family or dinner guests happy. And considering that even kids and self-avowed tofu haters have been impressed with this dish, it just might become part of your regular rotation too! The original recipe calls for fettucine, but you can make the dish with spaghetti, linguine, udon noodles or any other pasta that you fancy. I usually use green onions, carrot and bell pepper as my vegetables in this, but here too your options are endless - add in whatever veggies you like and make this dish yours!

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
Serves 4

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon ginger paste (or 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger)
1 tablespoon (or less) sambal oelek or other chili sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (250 grams) noodles of choice
8 ounces (250 grams) firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 cup green onions, sliced
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup red bell pepper, julienned (optional - I didn't have any on hand today)
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
Dash of sesame oil (optional)

1. Combine first 8 ingredients (water to garlic) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

2. Cook noodles in boiling water until al dente. Add tofu, green onions, carrot, red bell pepper (or whatever vegetables you are using) and drain.

3. Place noodles and vegetable mixture in a large serving bowl. Add peanut sauce, coriander, a dash of sesame oil and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature (or even cold as a noodle salad).


  1. Yumm, looks delicious!

  2. This has to be added to my repertoire now, too. I'm not 21 anymore but perhaps he may want to marry me again with your noodles ;-)
    Looks so tasty and healthy en plus!

  3. I'd want to marry you too with this! =)

  4. I love peanut sauce and I love what you've done to mix it up with noodles! Sounds like a great and "lucky" meal! =)

  5. Noodles in peanut sauce is definitely a "lucky" dish. :) I'll have to remember that in the future.

  6. My favorite flavors in your noodles!sound and look soooo tasty! I could see myself eating it today or tomorrow for lunch!
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. I LOVE the story:) My husband actually cooked for ME for our first two dates, and it certainly made me fall harder!

    I keep avoiding these peanut dishes because it sounds strange to me, but hey, if its worth a marriage proposal, I might have to try and it teach it to my girls (and boys!)

    Great post!

  8. Loved reading your post. Your recipe of the yummy peanut noodles, from Cooking Light is such a perfect dish. I used to have this recipe, and lost it. I subscribe to Cooking Light for years now.

    So glad that the recipe popped up on your blog...I think this is one of the best simple peanut sauce recipes, and I just recently bought the organic Blue Agave syrup, just like yours...coincidence...LOL