Today is Doni’s birthday. He is the food/product photographer and co-blogger behind vegan miam (he does some proofreading and writes travel-related posts and product reviews). Not only is he an amazing photographer, but he is my best friend, soulmate, fashionista (well yes, he has great taste in fashion), and vegan foodie buddy. Doni’s early birthday consisted of a gorgeous vegan confetti cake (pictured below) from Sweetpea Baking Company in Portland, OR (Thanks N+L); it was absolutely tasty!

Vegan Birthday Cake

Vegan Birthday Cake

Vegan Birthday Cake

We also had a fantastic celebratory meal made by his dad: hearty vegan torchiette pasta (twisted type) with homemade stock, chickpeas and tomato & marinated kale salad with orange, pine nuts and roasted golden beets. C’était délicieux! From now on, I will keep his recipe as a secret.

Vegan Dinner

To celebrate this very special day, I am sharing one of Doni’s favorite refreshing meals that he made last summer: Birthday Asian Noodle Salad with Tangy Peanut Sauce, along with Bittman’s Asian-Style Cucumber Soup. It is his turn to show off his culinary skills on the blog and sometimes, I really need a break from the kitchen.

Asian Noodle Salad

The noodle salad is adapted from a non-vegetarian recipe in the The New York Times and involves one of the common Asian condiments: fish sauce, which we’ve veganized last year. Pictured below is the Asian dipping sauce consisting of our vegan fish sauce, coconut sugar, fresh lime juice, finely grated garlic and 8 small Thai red and green chiles. You can use the dipping sauce in rice, noodles, or even a shredded papaya salad.

Asian Noodle Salad

We pressed, marinated and baked the tofu until slightly browned. The marinade contains garlic, ginger, lemongrass, our vegan fish sauce, tamari, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup and ground Thai chile. If you don’t like tofu, use king trumpet mushrooms or Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips (shredded). We like both and find them pretty tasty in chilled salads.

Asian Noodle Salad

For noodles, use any type of Asian noodles. But for noodle salads, I recommend any rice noodles, rice vermicelli, kelp noodles, soba or shirataki. We used Korean rice noodles, but we prefer soba or rice vermicelli for this type of dish. Cucumber and shredded carrots bring colors to this dish.

Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad with Tangy Peanut Sauce

4 servings

Ingredients

For the dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely grated
4-6 small Thai chiles, thinly sliced, or 2 serrano chiles (seeded if desired)
For the peanut sauce:
2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons tamari
1 (1-inch) ginger root, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pinch dried chile flakes or ground Thai chile
For the Tofu and Noodles:
1 (10-ounce) firm tofu pressed for 4-6 hours or overnight, or king trumpet mushrooms (about 1 pound), halved and bottoms trimmed (see Notes)
4 large garlic cloves, halved
1 (1-inch) ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 (4-inch length) lemon grass, tender center only, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch dried chile flakes or ground Thai chile
1 (8-ounce) cooked rice vermicelli, soba or other rice noodles (drizzle a bit of toasted sesame oil to keep them separated)
2 small cucumbers, cut into ¼-inch half moons
1 medium carrot, julienned
¾ cup mung bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts
¼ cup scallions, green parts, thinly sliced
¼ cup crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts
½ cup roughly chopped mint, cilantro and Thai basil or a combination
lime wedges to serve (2-3 small limes)

Preparation

    Make the dipping sauce:
  1. Prepare the vegan fish sauce first, this will be enough for the recipe. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. The sauce will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  2. Make the peanut sauce:
  3. Blend the ingredients with an immersion blender, a blender or small food processor until creamy. Transfer the peanut sauce into a Pyrex measuring cup or bowl.
  4. Carefully slice tofu into 1-inch thick cubes and place them in a baking dish or tray. Blend the garlic, ginger, lemon grass, vegan fish sauce, tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup and dried chili flakes with an immersion blender, a blender or small food processor. Pour the mixture onto the tofu, toss to coat and marinate for an hour in the refrigerator, covered. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the tofu for at least 10 minutes each side.
  5. To serve, divide the cooked noodles among four bowls and top with cucumbers, carrot, mung bean sprouts and baked tofu (or grilled trumpet mushrooms). Spoon some dipping sauce and peanut sauce over each bowl and sprinkle with scallions and crushed peanuts. Garnish with basil (optional), mint and cilantro. Douse with some lime juice.

Notes

The recipe is adapted from Cold Rice Noodles With Grilled Chicken and Peanut Sauce recipe in the New York Times.

To prepare marinated trumpet mushrooms, heat grill and oil lightly. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until slightly browned.

Asian Noodle Salad

Get the Chilled Cucumber-Cilantro Soup recipe here. This vegan and gluten-free soup is filled with loads of beautiful healthy greens you can find at farmers’ market: cucumbers, rice vinegar, chili, scallions, arugula, cilantro and mint.