This delicious vegan Vietnamese noodle salad is full of fresh crispy vegetables and herbs and sweet salty fried tofu all mixed together with a zingy dressing.
I want to include more tofu in our diet as it is a great source of protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids as well as being a good source of iron and calcium, so is a great ingredient to base a plant based meal around. But my family are not keen on tofu. They take a bit of gentle persuading when it comes to eating it. Actually, I have to admit, I tend to agree with them!
However, in this Vietnamese noodle salad, when fried until crisp in a sweet salty sesame sauce and then served with a crisp salad full of fresh flavours dressed with a Vietnamese sharp flavourful dressing, we will all quite happily sit down and clean our bowls!
Sautéing the tofu is a great way to add flavour to tofu. Use firm or extra firm tofu for the best result as they keep their shape. You need to pat the tofu dry as this will help it to firm up when cooking.
Using rice noodles make this salad gluten free (just check the packet), and are also great for when it is a hot day and you want to keep cooking to a minimum. Rice noodles are a great choice for salads, as they add a pleasant chewy texture to the dish and are a fantastic base for flavoursome sauces.
Making this noodle salad for toddlers/kids:
There is no way Mini Jones will eat raw ginger, and Mr Jones isn’t that keen on it either. Heating the ginger in the sesame oil takes the sharpness out of the ginger. If like me you like it, then omit this step and just combine all ingredients without any cooking.
Make this Salad Yours:
Non vegan/plant based:use ½ – 1 tsp honey instead of the brown sugar
Like spice: use a little extra chilli
Want a lighter meal: leave out the rice noodles
No rice noodles: If not vegan/plant based, use egg noodles, otherwise you could use spaghetti if you wish!
For other delicious tofu dishes, take a look at these great recipes from some blogger friends of mine:
Tofu Sesame Toasts from Its Not Complicated Recipes – vegan sesame toasts, beware they are seriously addictive!
Spicy Chipotle Tofu Burrito Bowl from Whole Food Bellies – packed with flavour and loved my meat eaters too!
Truly Crispy Baked Lemongrass and Ginger Tofu from Whole Food Bellies – packed with flavour and keeps in the fridge for a few days – perfect weekend meal prep idea!
Tofu Fried Noodle Salad from Sweet Caramel Sunday – packed with delicious flavours and textures, a great lunch idea!
Tofu Pad Thai from Sweet Caramel Sunday – so fresh and SO much better than take out!
If you are looking for more vegan/plant based meal ideas, why not have a look at my light Puttanesca Pasta Salad, Coconut Chickpea Curry which can be made ahead or frozen, or veggie packed Lentil Bolognese
Sticky Tofu & Vietnamese Noodle Salad
1 cm ginger, finely grated
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ - 1 tsp soft brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like things
3 tbsp olive oil – or neutral oil
½ tbsp sesame seeds
Chilli – fresh or dried, optional *
100-120g Rice noodles
1 carrot grated
10cm cucumber, cut into half moons
Handful fresh mint
225g firm tofu, cut into 1 cm slices and then 1 cm strips
1 dsp olive oil
3 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp soft brown sugar
Make the dressing:
Whisk together the ginger, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, sesame seeds and chilli, if using. Set aside.
**For those who don't like raw ginger, please see optional step in notes below**
Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions (usually soak in boiling water for 5 minutes)and leave to one side to cool.
Prepare the vegetables and place to one side.
Pat the tofu dry with some paper kitchen towel to remove as much moisture as you can. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add the oil and fry the tofu until golden, around 3 minutes each side.
Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil and honey/brown sugar.
When the tofu is cooked turn off the heat then add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir, until tofu coated and sauce has evaporated.
Serve straight away on top of the noodles with the vegetables and herbs.
Dressing optional step – combine the ginger and sesame oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. When it starts to foam/bubble, cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Take off heat, cool slightly then add the rest of the dressing ingredients.