Mung Bean Noodle Salad with Tofu

Ever since I bought that Mung vase at a garage sale (I can’t believe the deal I got!), I’ve been wanting to fortify my soul with some mung bean noodles. Also known as glass noodles, or bean thread noodles, these guys come in bundles (sometimes tied with string) in a pink net bag at your Asian grocery store.  They look just like rice vermicelli, so if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you may walk right by. I’ve seen these in the Asian section of my local HEB market here in Houston, too. You can do anything with these that you’d want to do with rice vermicelli, although these hold their own better and don’t turn into gluten immediately.

Advance warning – this dish could take more than an hour or so of elapsed time, given that you’re soaking, boiling, then chilling noodles. You can get a head start by preparing the noodles in advance.

This recipe is a cold salad, although it could be served with cold noodles and hot tofu (or other grilled ingredients, such as shrimp).  I have a friend who makes a noodle bowl from this with cold noodles, sesame oil, and scrambled eggs.

Start with…

  • 3 bundles mung bean noodles
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 5 limes
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • sesame oil (whatever it takes)

Soak the noodles in cold water for 10 minutes or longer. A day is ok, even, although it doesn’t make much difference to the end result. Boil like any pasta for 2 minutes. Remove and drain in a colander. Cover with ice to chill, or stir in some olive oil or sesame oil and refrigerate. If you refrigerate, it will turn into a solid mass, requiring some manual break up with your bare hands when you prepare the dish several hours (or a day or two) later. If you cover with ice and stir, you need 30 minutes to an hour to get the noodles chilled.

While the noodles are getting their groove on, you should get the tofu all cubed up, dumped onto an oiled baking sheet, and brushed with sesame oil. Depending on your measurement system of choice, cube size can be anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1 centimeter. Broil the tofu on high for 6 minutes and let cool – it’s ok to leave it in the oven after turning off the broiler – it won’t get too upset.

Squeeze limes into a measuring cup and chop cilantro. Once the noodles are cool, stir in fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice (through a strainer, if there are seeds), and a few shakes of sesame oil, until the noodles are evenly coated with everything and feeling good and slippery. Add the cilantro and tofu and stir some more. Add more soy sauce and/or fish sauce to taste. When it’s ready to serve, you’ll know it!

That’s about it for this simple dish. Enjoy!

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