A Favorite Rice Noodle Stir Fry to Make with Whatever Green Veg you Have
A favorite noodle-based stir fry with silky rice noodles, bright and crunchy broccoli, toasted cashews, quick-marinated crumbled tofu, and pan-seared onions tossed in a feisty chile-boosted soy sauce.
If you messaged me this week after I posted a badly lit photo of an exceptionally tasty stir fry on Instagram, this is 100% for you! It's the kind of stir fry I pull together often, a catch-all of things needing to be used up. You've got silky rice noodles, bright and crunchy broccoli, toasted cashews, quick-marinated crumbled tofu, and pan-seared onions tossed in a feisty chile-boosted soy sauce. I added mushrooms the second time I made it (for these photos), but you don't have to. I used broccoli, but you can use asparagus, shredded brussels sprouts or kale. I'll talk more about that down below. I definitely tend to do that thing you're not supposed to do here - overload the pan- but it's the kind of one-pan meal I love. Enjoy!
A couple things before we get to the recipe. If you make a lot of stir fries, consider investing in a wok. The cast iron wok I bought with Grace Young from The Wok Shop in San Francisco years ago is one of my prized cooking vessels (this is the one). It's the kind Cantonese home cooks swear by to impart the coveted taste of wok hay. I'm not saying I'm there yet, but I aspire. And if you don't have a wok, don't let it deter you - grab your largest skillet and use it for your stir fry.
A Few Stir Fry Variations
I’ll put most of this in headnotes of the recipe as well.
Green Vegetables: I’m writing this recipe up using broccoli as the green vegetable here, but you have lots of other options. Use an equivalent amount of asparagus (1 1/2-inch segments), or 4-5 big handfuls of , chopped kale, pre-cooked artichoke hearts are fair game, or peas, (or pea shoots!). You see where I’m heading? This is all really adaptable based on what you have on hand.
Make it a Little Creamy: A splash of coconut milk toward the end is nice.
Citrus is Good: One of my favorite finishing touches here is to throw something citrusy in at the end. I have a makrut lime tree on the patio, so I often sliver a couple leaves razor thin and add them at the end. Lemon zest, Meyer lemon zest, and/or orange zest is equally welcome here. Totally not necessary, but it really is a nice touch.
Boil versus Soaking the Noodles
I’m having you boil the noodles here to get them just the right amount of tender. It’s what I did to get dinner on the table quickly the other night, and works great. The common alternative is to soak them, but there is such a wide range of noodles out there, and I’m sure you’ll all use quite a range of them, so I think boiling them is the safest bet for consistency across the board. Depending on the noodles, sometimes the soak technique doesn’t work, and you end up boiling them anyway.
Here's the photo I posted taped in my recipe journal along with notes about how to make it after dinner the other night. I do this when I want to remember something I liked so I can make it again at some point. You can see the size of the noodles I used (left-hand page), and I also like to leave "next time" notes to myself (down in the corner) - ways to tweak, flavors or ingredients to add or explore, etc. Enjoy!
A Favorite Rice Noodle Stir Fry
I’m going to write this recipe up using broccoli as the green vegetable here, but you have lots of other options. Use an equivalent amount of asparagus (1 1/2-inch segments), or 4-5 big handfuls of chopped kale. Pre-cooked artichoke hearts are fair game, shredded or quartered Brussels sprouts, peas, (or pea shoots!). You see where I’m heading? This is all really adaptable based on what you have on hand. You’ll want to have all your ingredients at the ready before you start cooking here. It comes together fast. The rice noodles I like for this are about 1 1/2 inch square (called rice flake) and I find them in many well-stocked Asian markets There's a Vietnamese & Cambodian-centric market near me that stocks a wide range of rice noodles / flake.
- 4 ounces wide rice noodles or big square “rice flake” noodles
- 1 serrano pepper, sliced 1/8-inch thinly
- 1/3 cup rice or white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or coco aminos
- 4 ounces extra firm tofu, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons of a favorite chile oil
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
- 1 head of broccoli, trimmed into small florets
- 1/3 cup well-toasted cashews (or peanuts)
- For serving: slivered market lime, Meyer lemon zest, or orange zest (optional)
In a medium saucepan boil the rice noodles in a good amount of unsalted water until tender. Drain and toss with a teaspoon or so of oil. Combine the serrano pepper slices and vinegar in a small bowl. Set both of these aside.
Drizzle one tablespoon of the soy sauce over the tofu and toss well.
Combine the chile oil, remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 4 tablespoons of water in a glass.
Have a skillet or wok lid ready and all your ingredients prepped before you dive into the next steps. In a large skillet or wok heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms (if using) and cook until they both take on a bit of color - 3 minutes or so. Stir in the tofu and cook for another minute. Add the chile-soy water and the broccoli, stir briefly, and then quickly cover. Cook, uncovering to stir once or twice, until the broccoli brightens and starts to get a bit tender, a couple minutes.
Uncover, stir in the noodles (if they’re sticking a bit, just gently coax them apart). And if the pan seems a bit dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.
Stir in the cashews and add a bit of lemon zest or slivered lime leaf if you have it. Serve asap topped with a few chiles and drizzle of vinegar.
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Do you have a preferred brand for the rice flake noodles and where do you get them? Thanks!
Hi Renee - The ones I have right now are Three Deer brand. They're made in Thailand and the ingredients are rice and water. I get them at a local Cambodian market, but have also seen them in Thai markets and Vietnamese markets. Or poke around online! I love them.
Stir fry veggies are always in my weekly meals. I'd love how easy we can combine and stir many kinds of veggies together. Definitely try this!
I'm interested to know more about your wok because I'm in the market for another. Since it is cast iron is it very heavy? How did you choose that rather than carbon steel? I'd thought I wanted a carbon steel one because it is lighter. I store pans over the fridge so weight is an issue.
Hi Claire - it is not heavy at all because it is quite thin. I love cooking in traditional cast iron, it's very responsive. Watching the patina develop with each meal is another aspect I love, my wok is nearly naturally non-stick at this point.
Enjoyed it, as I have a few of your recipes recently during this at home time in NYC. I forgot to snap a photo to share on instagram- we were hungry! I feel like it could've used an additional component, alas I'm not well versed in complementary food items. I enjoyed very much the added lime and peppers in rice vinegar! thanks!
I made this the other night and it was completely devoured, even though I thought I was making extra. I used broccoli (an entire large head of it) and I had a zucchini kicking around so I put that in too. Loved the cashews and the family wants to try it with peanuts next time. I didn't have the rice noodles but I did have some wide flat pasta shapes that were very nice in it. I think next time I would want to up the flavors more, but it was still very good as is.
You can dial up the chile oil Cammie, and/or add cloves of chopped garlic. So glad you liked it!
Looks really nice! I love the inclusion of cashews and Serrano. Do you ever use arrowroot powder to thicken up your stir fry sauce? I recently started doing so, and it’s a big level up.