Those of you who follow Hungry Girl might have heard her mention one of her favorite products, House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles. Admittedly, tofu in the shape of noodles does sound weird, but this is one thing I picked up from her cookbook that I routinely have on hand. They make a great base for Asian-inspired dishes like stir fry and pad thai. They look like they’d be obscure, but you’d be surprised — I’ve found them at Harris Teeter, Safeway, and Whole Foods in DC. They’re right alongside the other soy products like packaged tofu and soy dogs. The package says it contains two servings, but I’ve always found I can eat an entire package in one sitting. Luckily, there are only 40 calories in a bag.
Here’s a fledgling tip: These slippery little noodles do smell funny when they first come out of the bag, but if you give them a rinse and pop them in the microwave for a minute, that goes away. Drain any extra water off of them after they come out of the microwave, then use them as you would use cooked noodles in the dish. For Asian-themed meals, I like to prepare all the vegetables and meats in a pan first, then stir fry the noodles for just a few minutes in the same pan so they pick up some of the flavors and get a little crispy.
Last week, Cara’s Banh Mi Hot Dog recipe from Big Girls Small Kitchen had me craving southeast Asian. (By the way, if you don’t already subscribe to their newsletter, it is very drool-worthy.) I bought country-style pork ribs from Eastern Market (that means bone-in, but the bones are shorter and less uniform than those in regular ribs) because I was planning to make them in the slow cooker, but I ran out of time. The pickled carrots were based off Cara’s recipe, although I added eggplant sticks and a hot pepper.
And for the record, D isn’t even a big fan of pork, but he loved this meal–including the tofu noodles.
Southeast Asian-inspired pork and noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tsp hoisin sauce
a squirt of sriracha (optional)
juice of one lemon
About 1.5 pounds country-style pork ribs
2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki noodles
1. To make the sauce, combine all ingredients up to the ribs in a bowl. If you have time, feel free to marinate the ribs in it. (I didn’t, but it can’t hurt.) If you’re in a hurry or just don’t want to bother, skip to step 2.
2. Preheat a skillet greased with a bit of oil over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the pork ribs. Give them a little space in between each other. Cook them on one side for about 5 minutes, or until they’re nice and golden brown, then flip them over to the other side and brown.
3. Once they’re browned, add the sauce to the pan, along with enough water to bring up the liquid level so that it comes up about halfway on the ribs. This wasn’t an exact science for me, but the goal is to get them cooking in the juice. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn it down low and cover the pan. Leave it alone for about 5 minutes, then come back and flip the ribs and let them cook on the other side.
4. When the ribs are no longer pink on the inside, remove them from the pan and turn the heat up higher. Cook the liquid down until it thickens a bit and makes a nice sauce. (I also whisked in about a teaspoon of flour to thicken it more.) Meanwhile, open the packages of noodles, drain them, and microwave them for a minute each to get rid of the tofu smell. Drain them again after they come out of the microwave.
5. Once the sauce is thickened, pour it into a bowl. Without wiping off the excess, add the noodles to the pan over medium-high heat. Stir fry them (stirring quickly) in the sauce until they’re coated. I like to keep cooking them until they get just a bit of crispiness to them, but they’re already cooked, so remove them whenever you like once they’re hot.
6. Serve the pork over the noodles, with pickled vegetables on the side.
I also served these with broiled cauliflower, one of my favorite easy sides.
Broiled cauliflower florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
salt and pepper
Preheat the broiler and toss the cauliflower florets with oil, salt and pepper. Stick them under the broiler and check on them after about 10 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter, until they’re crispy and a bit charred. The time it takes to get there will vary heavily based on the broiler, how close the pan is to it, and the size of the cauliflower, so keep a close eye on them.