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Author Notes: Take that package of instant ramen and throw away the soup flavoring (or stash it for another day). Instead, boil the noodles like pasta, then coat them in a tweak-able peanut sauce (fine-tune the levels of honey, Sriracha, and tamari to your taste, or squeeze of lime juice), and enjoy their chewy elasticity, sans soup. (If you haven't had instant ramen since teenage years, you can seek out fresh—and exceedingly delicious—ones.)
The tempeh is crisp outside, chewy within, and along with the earthy root vegetables, earthy and a tad bitter—a welcome contrast to the barely-sweet sauce. Peanuts offer crunch and salt, julienned ginger adds zing, and crispy shallots... well, we'd eat them by the palmful.
Because you'll need to put time into searing the tempeh (we do this in hot, neutral oil and a high-sided pan) and frying those shallots, don't cook the vegetables: Instead, slice them very thin, using a mandoline if you have one, and let them relax under the slick of peanut sauce.
The peanut sauce recipe is just barely adapted from Phoebe Lapine. —Sarah Jampel
Serves 2 to 4
For the peanut sauce:
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 squeeze lime juice, or more to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, pulsing until combined. Add 1/4 cup warm water and purée until smooth. Add more water if needed to reach a runny consistency, then taste and adjust seasonings.
- Sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Use it to marinate chicken, drizzled atop rice bowls, or as a dipping sauce for summer rolls.
For the noodle salad:
- 8 ounces tempeh, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch cubes or triangles
- Neutral oil, for cooking tempeh and shallots
- 1 or 2 thinly sliced shallots
- 13 to 16 ounces ramen noodles, cooked according to package instructions
- An assortment of carrots, radishes, and beets, thinly sliced
- Julienned ginger, for garnishing
- Roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped, for garnishing
- Sear the tempeh: Put a pan or wok over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with neutral oil. When the oil is hot, add the tempeh, being careful not to crowd the pan (work in batches if you need to). Salt the tempeh, then cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip with a tong and cook, repeating until all the sides are golden brown. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Fry the shallots. Place them in a pan of room temperature oil. Turn the heat up to high and watch the shallots bubble (first you'll see small bubbles, then more rapid ones will appear): That's the water evaporating off. Then lower the heat to medium. When the bubbles subside, it signifies that the moisture has cooked off the shallots (and they should look golden brown). Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined surface to cool completely; sprinkle with salt.
- To assemble your bowls, toss the cooked ramen with the peanut sauce, starting slowly. Mix in the shaved vegetables, then arrange the tempeh on top, followed by the julienned ginger, peanuts, and the fried shallots.
- This recipe is a Community Pick!