- 8 oz rice vermicelli
- 1 16-oz block of firm or extra-firm tofu
- 1 small onion, finely minced or grated
- 16 black peppercorns
- cayenne pepper or red chili peppers (to taste)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup coconut cream or milk (Not the kind you get in the soymilk area. Go to the Asian food aisle in your grocery store and get coconut milk or cream. Make sure it doesn't have added sugar.)
- 2 tsp palm sugar (if you don't have that, regular white sugar works just fine)
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 1/2 cups bean sprouts
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
- Optional garnish: cilantro or chopped basil
Put the rice vermicelli in a bowl and cover with hot or boiling water. Let soak for 20 minutes.
Drain the tofu and cut it into 8 slices. Pat the slices dry with a clean towel. Cook the tofu using one of the following methods:
- Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil. Place the slices on the sheet and lightly spray the slices. Broil until golden brown. Flip the slices over and continue broiling until the other side is golden brown.
- Pan fry them, flipping to make sure both sides are golden brown.
- Deep fry them. (I have a Southeast Asian friend who does this. This is by far and away the tastiest method of cooking, but I can't help cringing a little when I see the tofu going into a deep fryer.)
After cooking the tofu, let it cool enough to handle. Then cut each slice in half lengthwise, and then cut all the slices into thin, little squares.
In a mortar, combine the onion, peppercorns, cayenne, and salt. Pound it to a paste and set it aside.
Heat a large saute pan. When it's hot, add the coconut cream, water, sugar, chili powder, and soy sauce. let it heat up. Next add the paste from the mortar and stir to blend. Strain the noodles and add them to the sauce. Cook until they are al dente. (You'll see them starting to turn a little translucent.) Add the tofu, beansprouts, and scallion. Stir and let it cook until the beansprouts are crisp but tender.Turn onto a serving dish. Garnish with cilantro or basil if desired.