Thai Pork and Noodle Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing
Three things that Kraft Dinner and Sapporo Ichiban soup have in common:
- They are quick to make.
- In a pinch, they can hit the spot.
- Noodles are fun.
The other thing KD and instant ramen noodles have in common is a low bar for taste and nutrition. And when it takes so little effort to make fun noodles that taste so much better, why wouldn’t you?
Noodles came to the rescue recently on a day when I had substantially over-committed myself. I had my first Edmonton Humane Society volunteer shift (four hours of laundry-and-kitchen duty including approximately 22 industrial-sized loads of laundry, 15 loads of food dishes and too many kitty litter pans to count), an afternoon coffee with friends, a dog walk in the freezing cold (c’mon, spring, where are you?) and an evening out at the fabulous Citadel production of Crazy for You, a tap-happy Gershwin musical extravaganza. (My friend Karen and I are now seriously thinking about adult tap-dance lessons. If this happens, I fully expect Dan to start applying for jobs on my behalf.)
Point is, I got so busy being busy that I was pooped at the mere idea of making dinner.
Enter the noodle. In this case, it was the remaining “nest” of longkou vermicelli — or bean starch — noodles made from green beans and peas.
If that name doesn’t grab you, perhaps its popular nicknames — cellophane noodles or glass noodles — will capture your fancy.
These types of noodles are readily available in the Asian food sections of most supermarkets and they are simply the most fun to eat. When cooked, they become transparent but don’t break down (which rice threads will do). They maintain a nice snap and are a bit chewy. They are also really long, which satisfied Dan’s desire to slurp and twirl while eating. He is nothing if not a big kid at the dinner table.
To cook them, I opted for a simple Thai noodle salad with pork — cooked noodles topped with carrots, cucumber, pork, mint and peanuts and everything bathed in a salty-sweet-spicy dressing. Both recipes came from Martha Stewart’s website.
As for that list of things Sapporo Ichiban and Kraft Dinner have in common, here’s one more.
Not found in my kitchen.
Kitchen Castoff used
Remaining “nest” of longkau vermicelli (also known as cellophane or glass noodles)
This is how we did it
For the sauce
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced (just the whites)
- 1/3 cup soy sauce, or gluten-free tamari
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp anchovy paste
- 1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
For the salad
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless pork, cut into thick “matchstick” strips (easiest to slice when the meat is still slightly frozen)
- 3½ ounces bean starch vermicelli or rice thread noodles
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 to 2 carrots, julienned
- ½ to 1 English cucumber, julienned
- Fresh basil leaves, torn
- Fresh mint, chopped
- Chopped peanuts
- Sliced green onions (the green parts)
- Red pepper flakes
Make the sauce, then use half to marinate the slices of pork or chicken for at least 30 minutes. Reserve the remainder.
Cook the noodles according to package directions. For bean thread starch noodles, you should soak them in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, rinse then cook in a pot of boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Note: After the noodles have softened, I will often cut them into smaller pieces using kitchen scissors.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then cook the meat. It shouldn’t take more than about 5 minutes to fully cook.
To serve, top the noodles with pork, cucumber, carrots and toppings, then pour on some salad dressing. People can fix their own bowls individually or you can assemble it all on a platter.
Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.
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