Spicy Basil Noodles

– by Bridgette Mabuto–

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Flat rice noodles are my favourite for this dish, but it’s tasty with other types of noodles too.

My husband loves pasta. All pastas. If left to his own devices, he would eat pasta every day of the week. And not just Italian pasta, I’m talking noodles from every country and every culture, from lasagna to lo mein. Because I was raised in more of a rice-and-beans family, this has always been a bit of a conflict for us when it comes to meal planning.

Until we discovered Drunken Noodles.

Drunken Noodles, also called Spicy Basil Noodles or Pad Kee Mao, is one of the most delicious noodle dishes I have ever tasted. It’s spicy and extremely flavorful, with it’s fresh basil leaves. Plus, I feel less guilty eating these noodles because I can add baked tofu to them, which ups the protein in the dish.

Our local Thai place has an amazing Spicy Basil Noodle dish and we ordered it so much that they knew our order as soon as we called or came in, which is a little embarrassing. Eventually I realized that if I wanted to save face – and money – I was going to have to figure out how to make Spicy Basil Noodles myself.

After several goes, I finally came up with a recipe that is both delicious and easy to make. Of course, you can make it with chicken or shrimp, the common meats put in Pad Kee Mao, but this is the vegetarian version.

I’ve also made it more flexible, for those who can’t find authentic Thai ingredients. Is it a completely accurate Thai recipe? No, not really. Is it delicious? Definitely!

Spicy Basil Noodles with Baked Tofu 

The secret to this recipe is in the baked tofu. By pressing the tofu before baking it, the sauce will be better absorbed, which makes the whole dish more flavorful.

Ingredients:

One Block Firm Tofu

7 ounces Dried Pad Thai Noodles

¾ Cup Thai Basil Leaves (or regular basil if you can’t find Thai Basil)

½ Cup Diced Scallion (about 2 stalks)

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

2 Birds Eye Chili, Deseeded and Chopped (or two tablespoons chili pepper paste)

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Sauce Ingredients: 

3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

3 Tablespoons Vegetarian Stir-Fry Sauce or Mushroom Stir-Fry Sauce

2 Teaspoons White Sugar

2 Tablespoons Water

Directions:

Tofu 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove tofu and drain it.

Place tofu on a plate between two towels or several sheets of paper towel.

Place another plate on top of the covered tofu. Place a book/pot on top of the plate.

Let tofu drain for 20-30mins.

Once the water is pressed from the tofu, cut it down the middle, and then cube.

Place tofu in one layer on a lightly greased pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through the baking time.

Bake until light brown.

Sauce 

Mix all  sauce ingredients and stir until sugar is diluted.

Set aside.

Noodles 

Prep noodles according to the directions on the packet.

Put aside, ready to use later. (If noodles get sticky, toss with warm water before using.)

Heat oil in a pan and then add garlic and chili.

Stir in tofu.

Add diced scallions with a tablespoon of the sauce and fry until tofu is covered.

Stir in noodles and the rest of the sauce.

Mix until the sauce has been absorbed and the noodles are brown.

Remove from the stove and stir in basil leaves.

Serve hot!