I’m always getting great ideas from the grocery deli. I don’t necessarily buy, but def use them for inspiration. For me that’s almost better because not only can I usually make something similar at home, like this Spicy Thai Noodle Salad cheaper, I can customize to my taste and any dietary needs, too.
I’m really excited to share this salad today, too, because it uses up one of the packages of Ramen I picked up “Just in case” last March. And since I have more than a few more packets, I’ll be coming up with a few more Ramen recipes in the future. A few are courtesy of my niece. But back to this salad.
About Spicy Thai Noodle Salad:
Be aware that this recipe is not authentic Thai! The Ramen noodles might have clued you in. But the spicy/sweet dressing does have a nod to traditional Thai flavors. Those noodles will soak up all that flavor and using veggies you can pick up at the store or might even already have in your crisper or your pantry makes this salad pretty accessible to any of us cooking at home.
I mimicked the deli salad and since this has a wide array of vegetables, raided a bit from my fridge. In went half a red bell pepper and the rest of cucumber, along with a few radishes rolling around in the drawer. I couldn’t resist snitching a little broccoli from the crown in the fridge. And since the deli salad had baby corn and water chestnuts, I opened up a jar and can and made Chow Mein, later, from the remainder.
You’ll need something for heat, and since I had a couple of Fresno chilis that were calling out to be used asap (the were left from the Homemade Canadian Donair I made a while back.) You could use Thai peppers (super hot) or Jalapeno or Serrano.
And then just since I had them on hand, I tossed in the last of my Vietnamese Pickled Carrots I made way back in May. They were still crisp and fabulous and not in the original deli salad, not Thai, and I’d do it again! But any carrot shreds will work, too. I also tossed in some cilantro but see other options, below.
Other Options, Veggies & Herbs:
The options are almost endless as to what can go in this salad. Other great veggie candidates can be any Asian veggies, canned is fine in many cases, maybe one of the mixed ones. Bean sprouts would be fitting. Snow peas or sugar snap peas would be marvelous and long beans will never be wrong.
Chopped Bok Choy or kale will work if you lean that way. Shreds of cabbage or a cabbage mix, other radishes (daikon maybe), and shredded carrots are great elements. Little tiny cauliflower florets will add a lot of crunch. Thinly sliced rounds of mini bell peppers are pretty and will give you a mix of colors.
As far as herbs, think about any herbs that you might find in Asian cooking. Basil, mint, cilantro, or lacking that, just use a little parsley. Green onions are a must if you have them.
Add-Ins or Ons:
While it’s really not “necessary” I added chopped peanuts over the top (a nod to Pad Thai) but sesame seeds, either white or black or a combo will be great, too.
If you’d like, you can always add some additional protein to this salad. Keep it vegetarian with a little firm tofu, but otherwise, you could use shredded chicken, shrimp, beef, or pork. Just sayin’. You know, as long as your raiding the fridge anyway!
Making Spicy Thai Noodle Salad:
As far as the dressing, it’s just super simple mix together and shake in a jar. It’s got a good spicy/sweet/sour vibe going on and you have a lot of latitude in what ingredients you use to make it taste just right. You will want to taste and adjust the flavors, but it does need to be on the strong side to carry that flavor throughout the salad. I’ll give you some substitutions just in case you don’t have all the ingredients.
Do be careful to not overcook the ramen! This is key! And as soon as it is al dente pull it out and run cold water over it to cool it, but mostly to keep it separate, wash off any starch and stop the cooking process.
Some of the vegetables used are best if they are blanched. That makes them easier to eat and brightens the color. Blanching is just basically giving them a quick bath in simmering water and then immediately plunging into very cold or ice water. Add your veggies to a strainer and they can easily and quickly be dunked and removed from the simmering water and the cooling water. For the vegetables below, I time it at one minute in the simmering water.
The veggies I like to blanche are:
- Snow or Sugar Snap Peas
- Long Beans
- Fresh bean sprouts
You might want to think about this for any veggies you like, but don’t necessarily like raw. This doesn’t “cook” them but takes some of that rawness off.
Saving Money on Spicy Thai Noodle Salad:
Ramen noodles go on sale regularly and can often be found in large packages at the bottom of the shelf or at your buyer’s club or Aldi. Surprisingly they are not always $ per pound the cheapest pasta but they are super convenient (three-minute simmer) and can be doctored up in so many ways.
Of course, it’s summer now and there is an endless variety of fresh produce to choose from. Aldi has great prices, your farmer’s market might and you can always let budget be your guide when choosing the vegetables for your salad. A great strategy is to load up on the cheaper ones and accent with the pricier.
For specifically Asian ingredients, watch around the Chinese New Year, which varies every year (it begins on the day the new moon appears between January 21st and February 20th) for often unadvertised sales. If you live near an Asian market, that’s the place to shop for those ingredients (and others) at a low.
Here in Minnesota, we’ve finally got a break in the weather. It’s hot but more seasonally hot. I know all of you can’t say the same! Maybe this easy almost no-cook salad will help and appeal to your appetite! Around the house, I went out last night to cut a little parsley only to find my plant, which was just fine last night nothing but stubs. A swallowtail caterpillar was the culprit. He/she (do they have a sex) is gone today, but it was a sacrifice for the greater good…I say grudgingly! If you follow me, you know about my parsley fetish! I put that #(%#(@ on everything, lol! Maybe I’ll find the little culprit somewhere close by and can track the progress to butterfly!
Take care, all!
Spicy Thai Noodle Salad
- Total Time: 20 minutes plus chill
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Salads
- Cuisine: Thai
The Salad (Use about 3 cups of assorted veggies total, either the ones below or your own favorites):
- 1 (3 oz) package of instant ramen noodles (seasoning packet discarded) cooked till al dente or 6 ounces fresh ramen noodles
- 3/4 cup broccoli, small florets, stems thinly sliced, preferably blanched in boiling water for 1 minute then plunged into cold water
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced in quarters
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup shredded or pickled carrots
- 1 Jalapeno, Fresno or Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 jar (about 1/2 cup) baby carn
- 1/4 cup Peanuts, roasted, chopped, optional for garnish
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (if more than one lime s needed, pass any extra as garnish
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar, palm preferred, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- pinch red pepper flakes
- Sriracha or garlic chili paste to taste (suggest 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Toss the salad ingredients together except for the garnish; this is easiest done with clean hands. Mix dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake. Taste and adjust flavors. Drizzle over salad. Refrigerate for at least an hour if possible. Serve with any additional lime and a garnish of peanuts.
Keywords: Asian, baby corn, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Chili Garlic Paste, Cucumber, Fish Sauce, Ginger, Green Onion, Hot Peppers, Jalapeno, Lime, Main dish salad, Nuts and Seeds, Pasta, pasta salad, peanuts, ramen, rice vinegar, thai chiles, Vinegar, water chestnuts