Southeast Asian Inspired Peanut Noodle Salad
This salad is bright, light and beautiful. Everything about it is refreshing: we have cucumbers, radishes, carrots, cilantro, scallions, tangly and delicate vermicelli noodles and a powerful peanut sauce that could rule the world if it wanted to (peanut sauce for 2024 POTUS!) Oh, I also forgot about the crunchy peanuts on top, too. They just *make* it.
Before I get to this recipe, I want to note a few things. The first being that this a dish inspired by Southeast Asian cuisine (specifically Thai and Vietnamese ingredients and flavors.) This is, at its core, an Asian dish. My preparation is probably dumbed down and Americanized, but I am incredibly grateful for all of the Asian chefs, cooks, and teachers who I have had the privilege to learn about these flavors from so that I can understand how to put the pieces together and create a dish like this at home. I’m not sure if you knew this, but I’ve always been extremely inspired by Asian cuisines of all kinds, and in 2014, I had the privilege to study Cantonese cuisine and culture in Hong Kong. Cantonese is a totallllly different cuisine than Southeast Asian, but learning about it inspired me to bring my curiosity back home to the US and learn from Asian chefs from all over Asia who had opened restaurants in the US. That being said, eating and learning in Hong Kong was like dipping my pinky toe into the Asian cuisine abyss and I can never have enough. I am so grateful to learn EVERYDAY from Asians in the culinary space and if you’re going to make this recipe, I need you to feel this gratitude as well. This isn’t a suggestion, it’s a call to action. There’s so much hate happening towards Asians in the world, and it’s sickening to say the least. So, if you are here on this blog post, please do me the favor of spreading gratitude that our country and the world are lucky enough to have been influenced by Asian immigrants and their cultures in cuisine, cultuture and so, so, so much more.
Every time I make an Asian dish, I feel compelled to use this opportunity to try and spread as much gratitude and appreciation as possible. I really hope you take the time to do the same.
In terms of technical cooking stuff, here’s my usual Q&A for ya.
What noodles can I use?
I went with a brown rice vermicelli noodle that I got from Whole Foods – it’s essentially a suuuuper super thin rice noodle (in this case, whole grain, so firmer in texture) and it has this tangly, delicate, bouncy texture. I love it when it’s tangled in crisp, raw, crunchy veggies and bathed in my peanut sauce. Some vermicelli is actually made from mung beans (they’re also called bean threads) so if you can’t find rice vermicelli, you could also try these. If you can’t find vermicelli of any kind, go for rice noodles! There are usually pad Thai noodles in the international section of the store, and those would be my second choice. If you can’t find those, you could also go with buckwheat soba which would taste awesome and compliment the nuttiness of the sauce.
I’m allergic to peanut butter…any other suggestions?
Sunflower butter is one of my favorite substitutes for peanut butter because it’s got a more nutty flavor than almond butter, which I find to be a little sweet. I think sunflower butter is the best sub for this sauce!
Can I make this without the noodles?
Yes!!! Feel free to shred more carrots, though! I think that would be a nice touch if you went noodle-less.
|For the dressing:|
|1tbsp Tamari (can sub coconut aminos or soy sauce)|
|2tbsp rice vinegar|
|2tbsp sesame oil|
|4tsp unsalted creamy peanut butter|
|1/2tsp agave nectar (if using coconut aminos, use less)|
|1 1/2tbsp room temp water|
|1tsp grated ginger, plus more to taste if needed|
|For the salad:|
|5-6 radishes, thinly sliced|
|4 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced|
|1 large carrot, coarsely grated or cut into matchsticks|
|1handful cilantro, coarsely chopped|
|5 scallions, chopped|
|2oz. vermicelli noodles|
In a small mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing except for the ginger. Whisk together until nice and creamy. If the dressing seems too thick after mixing all of the ingredients together (like peanut butter) thin it out with 1 tsp of extra water at a time until it reaches a consistency you prefer. Add the ginger at the end and stir in. Taste to see if you want more, and if you do, grate some more in there!! Also, just a note so you don't get scared when this happens lol -- the peanut butter will break up when you start to whisk it into the other ingredients. Don't worry!! Keep whisking and it will combine and become creamy. Whisk it fast if you are having trouble incorporating it.
Cook the noodles according to package and then pour them into a collander. While they sit in the collander, shower the noodles with cold water from the faucet until they are no longer hot. Drain them and set them aside.
Combine the cucumber, carrot, radish and noodles in a large salad bowl. Toss with the dressing until all of the ingredients are coated in the peanut sauce. Add cilantro and scallions and toss again. Plate the salad and top with crushed peanuts. If serving with a protein, feel free to throw it on top! If meal prepping, seal in a container in the fridge. for up to 3 days.