Call it overcompensation, but we have a fondness for heavy doses of protein in all its veggie forms. Nuts. Beans. Soy. Crunch. Chew. Slurp. Sometimes all in one dish!
Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves sipping a sake-aged beer on the porch and started jonesin’. So we cooked up this bean noodle salad that is essentially bean on bean on bean with nuts. Rather than wheat or rice noodles, we used those delicate, transparent bean threads that look almost like razor thin fiber optics in little bunches. In went seared tofu strips (bean!) and freshly boiled emerald-green fava beans (more bean!). But we still needed a crunch, so we stir-fired up some Vietnamesey peanuts with lemongrass and garlic, and served them alongside the noodle bowls.
A chiller Sabbath we cannot recall.
2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
1/4 cup peanut oil (or canola)
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. dried lemongrass powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground clove
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1. Bring a large sauté pan or wok to high heat and dump peanuts in. Toast for 1-2 minutes and then add peanut oil. Stir thoroughly and often (every 30 seconds) with a slotted spoon to keep nuts from burning.
2. Meanwhile, peel the garlic. After peanuts have been roasting for about 5 minutes, add the garlic, using a garlic press to squish the cloves right above the wok. Stir. Add the lemongrass powder and clove and keep stirring.
3. After about 10 minutes the peanuts will be mostly cooked but not yet crunchy, this requires resting and cooling them, so remove from heat. While the pan is still hot, squeeze lime juice on the nuts and toss in the lime peel. Stir again. Add salt to taste. Let cool.
4. Crush if desired, using a mallet or chef’s knife.
Bean on Bean Noodle Salad
1 Tbs. peanut oil (or canola)
8 oz. firm tofu
2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce
1 lbs. fresh fava beans
1 cup fresh cilantro
3 bundles bean thread noodles
2 Tbs. sesame oil
3 Tbs. Soy sauce
3 Tbs. black vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1. Start with your tofu: We always recommend pressing it of its soy water for 10-15 minutes using a phone book and several paper towels. Once pressed, slice it into long rectangle pieces about 1 centimeter thick. Heat a large non-stick or cast iron pan on high heat with peanut oil. Once hot and oil evenly distributed, place tofu down gently.
2. Let the curd sizzle, but shake the pan gently to keep it from sticking too much. Let cook about 3-4 minutes. Lift a corner of each slice with a spatula to determine how cooked it is: You want a strongly browned skin. Sear on both sides.
3. While the second side sears, meaning you’ve got a brown side up, squeeze a Sriracha landscape; crosses, circles, a cat face. When the second sear is complete, flip the sriracha side down and repeat on the un-chilied side. Keep in mind the Sriracha will burn slightly and make you cough; don’t let it cook more than 2 minutes on each side.
4. Now prepare your favas. Set a pot on high heat with about 4 cups water. Add a touch of salt. While you wait for it to boil, peel the fava beans from the pods. Once boiling, add beans and cook for 4-5 minutes. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Pick a fava out and test it, you want a slightly giving texture. When done, strain (save the hot water, you’ll use it in a minute) and rest the beans in the ice water to cool for at least 5 minutes. Peel ’em by popping eat of its shell: using your thumbnail, nip off the bottom part of the skin and squeeze the fava opposite end, the bean will come right out.
5. Now prepare the rest of the veggies. Using a vegetable peeler, make carrot ribbons by running it along the length of each carrot and collecting the long, increasingly wide threads. Save the carrot core for another dish. Slice scallions into half-inch sized sections. Pick cilantro leaves and combine all in a bowl. Toss with juice of one lime and let sit.
6. To make the dressing, slice and mince the three cloves of garlic and combine in a small bowl with the sesame oil, soy sauce and black vinegar.
7. Return the fava water to a boil to cook the noodles. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil. Once boiling, add your bean threads and lower to medium heat. Prepare another ice bath. Be vigilant about watching the bean noodles. Let cook about 3 minutes and test one; they should be slurpable and not too soft. Remove and strain and dump in ice water to cool for 5 minutes.
8. Slice your cooled tofu into thin 1-inch-longstrips.
9. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss with dressing and serve.
Soundtrack: Spacemen 3’s “Walkin’ with Jesus”
Beverage: Kiuchi’s XH Hitachino Nest Beer
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