Pan-fried rice noodles with tofu, veggies, five spice powder, and lots of heat go into this scrumptious vegan take on Thai drunken noodles.
As far as I can tell, drunken noodles do not normally contain Chinese five spice. I guess I forgot that a few weeks back when I went out for Thai and ordered the drunken noodles though. I kept trying to place that herby, licoricey flavor that I eventually realized was holy basil. At the time, I though it might just be anise. Someone suggested five spice. I took it and rolled with it.
I wanted my home cooking version of drunken noodles to taste like the restaurant version I'd had, and while I consider myself a champ when it comes to locating exotic ingredients, I've never, ever, at any supermarket, farmers market, Asian market, or pretty much anywhere, seen fresh Thai basil for sale. I seriously debated driving back to the restaurant to ask for help. I settled on throwing in some five spice to see what would happen.
And can you guess what happened? Awesome happened! Seriously, this tasted like what I'd had at the restaurant, and it was deeeeeelicious. I know, there's a big difference between holy basil and regular old basil + five spice. Taste is all I care about though, and the taste was fantastic.
Maybe the heat had something to do with the awesome factor of this dish. I love spicy food. This was hot, even by my standards, and I only threw in one jalapeño! I guess it was an extra hot one. Sometimes I throw several jalapeños into a recipe, seeds and all, and...nothing. This time, it was definitely something. I had to make extra noodles so my husband could dilute the heat. When that happens it's always cue for me to warn you guys. If you're apprehensive about the heat level, skip the peppers and add some hot sauce at the end. You can even make a no-heat version and just let the five spice shine through.
Five Spice Drunken Noodles
- 8 oz. wide rice noodles
For the Sauce
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- Asian chili paste to taste optional
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. Chinese five spice powder
For the Tofu
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu drained, pressed at least 20 minutes, and cut into ½ inch cubes
For the Drunken Noodles
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 shallots finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers or other hot pepper of choice, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
- 2 scallions chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves packed
Prepare the Noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add noodles and submerge. Allow to soak until al dente. This normally takes about 5-7 minutes, but refer to package directions. Transfer to colander and rinse well with cold water. Set aside.
Prepare the Sauce
Stir all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the Tofu
Coat a large skillet with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add tofu and allow to cook until browned on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on opposite sides, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
Make the Drunken Noodles
Place oil in a large skillet and place over high heat. Add shallots, garlic and hot peppers. Stir fry 2 minutes. Add bell pepper strips and stir fry 1 minute more. Add noodles and sauce. Stir fry just until sauce thickens and coats noodles, 1-2 minutes. Mix in scallions, basil and tofu. Remove from heat.
Divide onto plates and serve.
Wide rice noodles are available at some supermarkets and most Asian markets. If you can't find them, feel free to sub pad Thai noodles or rice vermicelli.
Feel free to season with additional five-spice powder if you like the effect. I found that a little goes a long way.