A pleasing composition using a minimum of exotic ingredients, this vegan riff off of Vietnamese bean-thread noodles highlights fresh tomatoes and basil.
The tomatoes make this traditional Asian dish somewhat offbeat, and while it’s especially perfect for warm weather, you can enjoy it year round — an easy mélange of slippery noodles and barely-cooked vegetables.
Bean-threads are a type of noodle with many names — cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and more. You may also find them marketed or served (in eateries) as mung bean noodles, mung bean vermicelli, saifun, or harusame.
About bean-thread noodles
However you find them labeled, these fine, transparent cellophane noodles are made of a plant-based starch — traditionally mung bean starch. Other types of starches might be used as well, including potato starch and tapioca.
These noodles are quick-cooking and have a pleasantly slippery texture. Thought they’re not by any means a nutritional powerhouse, they are gluten-free. If you’re super-sensitive, you need to make sure they weren’t packaged in a facility that uses wheat. Find out lots more in this sites Guide to Bean-Thread Noodles.
Substitutes for bean-thread noodles: Feel free to swap in fine rice vermicelli, soba noodles, or even thin spaghetti.
Complete the meal: Serve with an easy tofu dish like Simple Stir-Fried Tofu with Sweet & Savory Flavors.
- 4 ounces bean-thread (cellophane) noodles
- 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups thinly shredded napa or savoy cabbage
- 2 medium or 4 small tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts, or more, as desired
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons natural granulated sugar
- Hot sauce or dried hot red pepper flakes to taste
- Thinly sliced fresh basil leaves or cilantro for garnish
- Chopped peanuts for topping, optional
- Cook the noodles according to package directions. Take care not to overcook! Drain, then place them on a cutting board and chop in several directions to shorten — these noodles are very long.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until golden.
- Add the garlic and cabbage. Turn up the heat and stir-fry until the cabbage is tender-crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the cooked noodles, tomatoes, sprouts, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar. Stir-fry just until everything is well heated through. Add hot sauce or red pepper flakes and taste to see if you’d like to add more vinegar or soy sauce.
- Serve at once, garnishing each serving with some basil or cilantro. Pass around chopped peanuts for topping as well, if you’d like.
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