Within two bites she told me very matter-of-factly that there was most definitely fish sauce in the dish. NO WAY! I said. I've asked on multiple occasions and they have always told me there wasn't, I said. She was adamant. I of course flagged the waitress down and asked again, is this sauce vegan? Yes! the waitress said. I told her my client tasted fish sauce so could she please ask the chef? She was freaked out since she's vegetarian and ate the same dish all the time. She went and asked the chef and low and behold, there WAS fish sauce in it!!!!! DUDE. I was pissed! Our waitress wasn't too thrilled either. She apologized and comped our meal and needless to say, I didn't finish my food and have only been back a handful of times in the last two years, always asking since the manager said they were going to "work on" making the sauce vegan. NOPE.
I was so disappointed, not to mention absolutely grossed out that I'D BEEN EATING FUCKING FISH FOR FOUR YEARS!!! Now, why in a lot of Asian restaurants do they consider fish or fish sauce vegetarian? I have no clue and that's a whole other blog post. Since my posts are very few and very far between these days, I'm not going there. What I am going to concentrate on is how I spent a damn year trying to recreate that stupid sauce, only to have good-but-not-great at best results. Certainly nothing blog-worthy, CLEARLY.
Anyway, fast forward to last week when I stumbled upon a recipe on One Green Planet's Facebook page for zucchini noodles tossed in a coconut-lime sauce. Immediately I thought of that damn dish at Citrus Club and began to build on this extremely simple recipe on OGP in my head. I got excited and scrapped my dinner plans and went to the store and got some zucchini. It was ON.
Well, I'm very pleased to tell you that it came out really well! It's not the same dish as the one I still kinda pine for, but that's OK because it's BETTER! Take that, Citrus Club! So now, without further adieu, the Zoodles of Noodles with Spicy Coconut-Lime Dressing, AKA: Better than Citrus Club Anyway Bowl!
Serves 2 plus dressing for 3-4. It's really good for dipping veggies in if it doesn't make it to your next salad! ;)
Ingredients for the Bowl:
Zucchini – one large or two smedium (yes, smedium), spiralized
2-4 oz extra-wide rice noodles (soba noodles would be great here too)
1 small carrot, shredded, reserving 1 TBSP for garnish
1-2 green onions, sliced diagonally, reserving 1 TBSP for garnish
6 oz organic, extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/4"strips
2 TBSP raw cashews (or peanuts), roasted and chopped
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp sesame oilDash cayenne
Dash Himalayan sea salt
Sriracha (optional, but recommended)
Ingredients for the Dressing:
1/2 C raw cashews soaked at least two hours*
1/2 C coconut milk
2 TBSP water at a time (optional)
Juice from 4 limes + zest from one
1 big clove garlic or 2 small
1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
2 big pinches cayenne, or to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400° F
Cook noodles according to packaging, making sure not to overcook! On my stove that runs hot, the extra-wide rice noodles take 7 minutes, max. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Set aside.
While the noodles are cooking, combine all the dressing ingredients in your high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) and process until very smooth. To thin out the dressing to desired consistency, add water 2TBSP at a time 'til it's just the right consistency. *Also, if you spaced on soaking your cashews, just use raw ones. You may have to blend a bit longer, but that's no biggie. Refrigerate until you're ready to use.
Spread out the tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush each piece with sesame oil. Sprinkle a little salt and cayenne over all of it and bake for 15 minutes. If need be, flip and bake another 5 minutes. My oven also runs hot so 15 minutes is perfect. Remove and wrap in tin foil to keep warm.
Heat a small, un-greased pan over med-high/high. Add 2 TBSP raw cashews or peanuts (not soaked) and toss until some nice brown bits start to appear. About 3-5 minutes. Careful not to burn them nuts! *snicker* Remove from heat and allow to cool before chopping them.
Now, spiralize your zucchini. I use a new Paderno 4-blade jobber that's a little intimidating. If you don't have a spiralizer, you could always use a mandolin or even a potato peeler to make your zoodles.
Combine the zoodles, cold rice noodles, all but 1 TBSP green onions, all but 1 TBSP carrots and half to 2/3 the dressing in a large bowl and toss to coat.
Divide between two bowls and top with the remaining shredded carrots and onions, baked tofu, cilantro, chopped cashews some sesame seeds and a drizzle of sriracha if using and serve!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. I'm straight-up obsessed. I could eat it every day! I hope you like it that much too! :D