Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing

Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

A bowl of lettuce with a sweet dressing isn’t going to cut it.  I need substance and flavor in my salads. Rice noodles, fresh vegetables, and crushed peanuts.  Lemongrass, chili peppers, ginger, garlic, and turmeric.  Cilantro, Thai basil, and spring onions.

cutting fresh ginger and garlic for southeast asian recipe

I want a salad to taste so good that I have to remind myself after each bite that it’s healthy too.  I want a Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing!

Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

During the last two months, I have slowly built up my Asian kitchen in Minnesota with some of the essentials like light and dark soy sauces, rice vinegar, Chinese rice wine, fish sauce, and sesame oil. 

And with the hot summer, the garden has taken care of other required ingredients like ginger, lemongrass, Thai basil, cilantro, and many more spices & herbs.

thai basil and cilantro herbs growing in the garden

With my Asian kitchen almost complete, I have finally had the chance to get back to experimenting with flavors from home…and taking a much needed break from the hotdogs and hamburgers of a Minnesota summer.

My latest concoction – Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing – may seem complicated with the long list of ingredients, but once everything is there in the kitchen, all it takes is some chopping, a bit of cooking, and then mixing it all together into a salad with a burst of Southeast Asian flavors.

Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

This Asian, summery salad isn’t a traditional dish – just a mix of my favorite ingredients.  So make it your own too.  Instead of tofu, try it with sautéed beef, chicken, or shrimp.  No shallots?  Use red onion.  No Thai chili peppers?  Try another spicy chili or add in some cayenne pepper.  I like how well the tender flat rice noodles absorb the flavors, but go ahead and substitute with soba noodles or thin rice vermicelli. 

And if you’re looking for a real kick, add a dab of homemade sambal to the sauce.

southeast asian spicy sauce for salad and marinate

Give this salad a try and find out the secret to Southeast Asian cooking – creating healthy dishes that taste so good!

Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

shop lemongrass powder, kaffir lime leaf powder, galangal powder available at season with spice shop

Rice Noodle Salad with Spicy Lemongrass Dressing 
by Season with Spice
Serves 2

1 block (about 12 oz) of extra firm tofu - cut into thin strips or 1/2 inch cubes, and patted dry
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 servings of flat rice stick noodles

Spicy Lemongrass Sauce:
3-4 cloves garlic - minced
1 inch fresh ginger - minced
2 lemongrass stalks – outer leaves removed and ends trimmed off, then remaining white part chopped finely
1-2 Thai bird’s eye chili peppers (or one serrano chili for a less spicy taste) – minced
1 tsp of Season with Spice's ground turmeric
5 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp raw sugar (or brown sugar)
Fish sauce or kosher salt to taste
Generous dashes of ground white pepper

- Fresh herbs such as cilantro, spring onion, and Thai basil
- Vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers (cut into matchsticks), bean sprouts, shallots/red onion, and watercress or sunflower sprouts. You can also add sweet corn kernels or thinly sliced sugar snap peas Рjust quickly saut̩ or blanch them before adding to salad.
- 2 tbsp crushed peanuts or toasted sesame seeds
- Homemade sambal (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the spicy lemongrass sauce. Mix well.
2. Add two tablespoons of the prepared sauce to the tofu cubes and coat well. Let marinate for 10-15 minutes.
3. In a non-stick skillet or frying pan, add oil and the marinated tofu, and cook over medium heat. Cook one side of the tofu for 2-3 minutes, then turn them over and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the tofu is nicely browned.
4. Cook rice noodles according to the package instructions (generally about 5 minutes to cook in boiling water). Once cooked, drain and rinse noodles under cold running water.
5. Place noodles into each serving bowl. Drizzle with sesame oil and toss lightly. Arrange veggies and tofu around noodles, then drizzle with the spicy lemongrass dressing. Garnish with fresh herbs and crushed peanuts.