This refreshing noodle salad has a nice balance of heat from serrano peppers and sweet from fresh papaya—a perfect match for a glass of Grillo, loaded with tropical fruit notes.
- 1 pound dried rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, white inner bulb only
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4cup Asian fish sauce
- 16 oz firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup water
- Cilantro sprigs
- 2 ripe papayas, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
- Lime wedge
In a large bowl, cover the rice noodles with hot water and let stand until pliable, about 20 minutes.
In a mini-processor, combine the lemongrass, sugar, garlic, ginger, chile and oil and process to a paste. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Put the tofu in a large shallow bowl and add 1/4 cup of the lemongrass mixture, turning to coat the tofu. Marinate for 20 minutes. Stir the water and cilantro into the remaining lemongrass mixture.
Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling water, stirring, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Rinse with cold water and drain again, then repeat the process once more. Let the rice noodles dry, lifting them to separate the strands. Drain the excess marinade off of the tofu.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked noodles with the remaining lemongrass mixture and divide into serving bowls. Add the tofu, cilantro sprigs, a few strips of papaya and the peanuts.
The balsamic vinegar in the glaze provides a pleasing sour foil to the sweet berries. Pair with a Nero de’Avola. Makes 4 servings.