Oh, look! Another super-simple Asian noodle dish of dubious authenticity! Sort of pad Thai, sort of pad woo sen, and totally doable on a weekday night when you’re trying to get some work done and the recycling needs to be sorted and your dog really has to go to the bathroom but that creepy guy from across the street keeps walking up and down the sidewalk for seemingly no reason and oh my god, how is it 8 pm already?
Given that I more or less came up with this on the fly, there are obviously some things I would like to have done differently. Namely, used chicken in place of the tofu, which just didn’t absorb enough sauce, and maybe added some cilantro. But for the most part, it was great as is, and makes an extremely generous 4 servings.
Protein of your choice (in this case, crispy tofu [$1.41], because it’s what I happened to have on hand, but chicken would have been ideal)
• 8 oz. glass noodles: 68 cents
• 3 T fish sauce (OR vegan fish sauce [link]): 10 cents
• 2 T tamarind paste (I keep a block frozen in the freezer): 10 cents
• 1 T rice vinegar: 5 cents
• 3 T granulated sugar: 15 cents
• 1 tsp sriracha: 5 cents
• 2 T canola oil: 6 cents
• 3 cups mung bean sprouts: 98 cents
• 5 green onions (from the garden): $0
• 1/3 cup chopped peanuts: 40 cents
• 1/2 lime, sliced in wedges: 17 cents
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped: 6 cents
• 1 shallot, finely chopped: 66 cents
• 1 T canola oil: 3 cents
TOTAL: $4.90/4 = $1.22/serving
Set a teapot of water on to boil.
Put the glass noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them, stirring with a fork to break them up. Let them sit just until pliable—a few minutes at most—drain, and rinse under cold water.
Next, pour 3/4 cup of boiling water over the tamarind paste (the 12-year-old in me will refrain from comment in regard to the photo below; if you know me, you know this is an enormous sacrifice I’m making for you, dear reader) and let it soak.
When it’s cool enough, mash it up with your fingers until it’s as dissolved as it’s going to get, drain through a sieve, add the liquid to a small bowl, and add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the liquid.
Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and, if you’re using chicken, cook until no longer pink. Reduce heat to medium and cook the shallot until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the sauce and noodles, stirring often to equally distribute the sauce (use tongs if you have them). Once the noodles are coated in sauce, add tofu if using, sprouts, and 3/4 of the peanuts and green onions.
Continue to cook, stirring when needed (not too much, because if you have cheap noodles they’ll break up into little pieces), until the liquid has been totally and evenly absorbed, adding water if necessary. Serve when the noodles are fully cooked, garnished with the remaining peanuts and green onions, with lime wedges to squeeze over the top.