I have been looking for a spicy peanut noodle recipe for awhile. I went through several iterations, adding and removing ingredients to find the right balance. I think I finally succeeded in finding a dish that hits all the right notes – a spicy, silky peanut sauce that coats the noodles; crunchy veggies; and bright, fresh herbal flavors. Atsuage tofu balances out the noodles and adds the protein needed to make this a complete dish.
This dish is inspired by this recipe from Half-Baked Harvest.
What is atsuage?
Atsuage is thick-cut slices of firm tofu that are deep-fried to a golden brown. This produces a tofu that is slightly puffed and chewy on the outside and still smooth on the inside. Because of its chewy exterior, atsuage adds an extra textural component to this dish.
In Hawaii we can get fresh atsuage from Aloha Tofu Factory. But you may be able to find it in a local Asian market. If not, you can also make your own or use firm tofu.
Making Spicy Peanut Noodles
Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. You can make the sauce 3-4 days in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.
Before you start cooking, have all your mise en place completed and then you are ready to go. Once the noodles are cooked, it’s a quick toss in the warmed sauce, and a finishing with all the tasty garnishes.
Substitutions and modifications
Use this recipe as a guide, modifying to your own taste and the ingredients you have on hand.
- Atsuage – substitute with firm tofu, as is, or lightly pan fried. Don’t like tofu? Substitute with your favorite cooked protein.
- Rice noodles – substitute with Chinese egg noodles or spaghetti
- Thai curry paste – red, green, or Penang paste all work well and create different flavor variations
- Veggies – add or substitute with veggies that can stand up to being tossed and add a nice crunch like snow peas, cabbage, or bean sprouts
- Herbs – if you can’t find or don’t like the listed herbs, substitute with your favorite soft herbs like sweet basil, mint, or flat-leaf parsley
Spicy Peanut Noodles with Atsuage
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
Rice noodles and slightly chewy atsuage (deep fried tofu) are coated with a delicious spicy peanut sauce and topped with lots of fresh herbs and veggies, crunchy peanuts, and sesame seeds.
8 ounces rice noodles
8 ounces atsuage (deep fried tofu)*
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
For the sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup soy sauce**
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons Thai curry paste***
2 tablespoons sambal, or to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Sambal or sriracha, optional
Cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
While the noodles cook, place all the sauce ingredients into a blender or food processor. Pulse to combine until smooth.****
Place the sauce into a large skillet and heat slowly over low heat. You are heating just enough to cook out the raw taste of the ingredients, allowing the flavors to meld.
Reserve about 1 cup of the noodle cooking water. Remove the noodles and add directly to the sauce in the skillet. Remove from heat. Add the atsuage, carrots, and peppers. Toss to coat well, being careful not to break up the atsuage. If the sauce is too thick, add a little of the reserved noodle cooking water.
Place the noodles into a serving dish, top with herbs, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Drizzle with lime juice and sambal or sriracha. Serve.
*You may substitute firm tofu for the atsuage. If you like, cut the tofu into cubes and crisp up in a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Don’t like tofu? Substitute with grilled chicken or another protein.
**Depending on the sodium content of the brand of curry paste you use, you may need to adjust the amount of soy sauce.
***Use your favorite curry paste – red, green, or Penang work well in this dish.
****The sauce can be made 3-4 days in advanced. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to pull the dish together.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Main Dishes
- Cuisine: Asian-American
- Calories: 434.18
- Sugar: 11.56 g.
- Sodium: 943.96 mg.
- Fat: 20.54 g.
- Saturated Fat: 3.74 g.
- Carbohydrates: 52.31 g.
- Fiber: 4.62 g.
- Protein: 13.62 g.
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: Rice noodles, peanut butter, tofu