Looking for a recipe sure to please without spending hours in a hot kitchen? These Zingy Vietnamese-Style Noodles recipe from Melisa Helmsley are the perfect option for easy cooking. Simply throw together and serve up with some tasty tipples for a lunch or dinner sure to please.
“A must make! The sticky sesame tofu works beautifully in this dish, but you could swap it for mushrooms, prawns, shredded chicken or fish. This is one of my all-time favourite dressings. I also like to drizzle it on roasted cauliflower, baked squash and fried Brussels sprouts. I love thin rice vermicelli for speed, but cook up any type of noodles you like. This is also fantastic with leftover cooked rice or quinoa, and use vegan fish sauce to make this completely plant-based.”
- Melissa Hemsley
280g extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp mixed sesame seeds
Juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp maple syrup or
2 tbsp fish sauce (vegan if you prefer)
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Thai chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, or 2 squirts of chilli sauce (or to taste)
300g thin (rice or mung bean)
2 handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (such as coriander, basil and mint – see tip)
Leaves from 2 Little Gem lettuces
2 tbsp cashews or peanuts
2 carrots and cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
2 handfuls of finely sliced
Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or place in a clean screw-top jar and shake well.
Drain the tofu well. Chop into 2cm cubes, then pat dry in a clean tea towel. Pop into a bowl, stir in 2 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the dried vermicelli in a large, wide heatproof serving bowl, pour over some just-boiled water and leave for the length of time specified on the packet – usually around 5–8 minutes.
Keep the leaves of the fresh herbs whole and finely chop the stalks (discarding any mint stalks – or use in mint tea!) and tear the lettuce leaves.
Heat up a large frying pan, add the cashews or peanuts and toast on a medium heat for 2 minutes until lightly golden, then tip onto a chopping board and roughly chop.
Pop the pan back on the heat and melt the coconut oil. Using tongs, place the tofu pieces in the pan, spacing them out, and fry on a medium-high heat for 4–5 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 4 minutes. Try to leave them undisturbed as they fry so they go lightly golden and then, during the final minute of cooking, stir in the maple syrup and sesame seeds and remove from the heat.
Drain the noodles once they are tender (test one by eating it), wipe the bowl out with a clean tea towel and then pop the noodles back in the bowl, roughly snipping with scissors so they are easier to eat.
Drizzle over half of the dressing, add the herbs and veg and toss together in the bowl. Scatter over the tofu, then sprinkle the nuts on top to finish. Serve with extra dressing on the side so that everyone can add more if they like.
EXTRACTED FROM FEEL GOOD BY MELISSA HEMSLEY (EBURY PRESS, £22) Photography by Lizzie Mayson.