Spicy noodle salad with crispy sticky tofu and peanuts

Cold noodle salads are great for a hot day! They're simple to put together and you can use up a load of veggies you might have lying around.

This is a recipe for a vegan cold noodle salad with crunchy vegetables and crispy tofu coated in a sticky chilli jam sauce. It's in two parts - first you make the noodle salad, which you can do in advance, and then you make the crispy tofu topping. Finally, serve up and enjoy!

If you try out this recipe, let me know what you think or tag @eastonchilli on Instagram :)

- Rikki

Noodle salad recipe

There's a lot of flexibility in this recipe. If you don't have some of the ingredients to hand just swap em out, I've listed some suggestions. This recipe is vegan, if you want to make it meaty then you could add chunks of chicken or a pork mince.


For the salad

  • 2 portions of noodles (I like these Shanghai noodles but any medium-thickness firm noodle style will do. I would avoid thick noodles like udon for texture reasons, or rice-based noodles which will go mushy.)
  • selection of crunchy vegetables. For this recipe I used 1 carrot, 1 bunch of spring onions and half a romaine lettuce. Other good choices are daikon/mooli, sweetheart cabbage, romaine lettuce, cucumber, bell peppers, broccoli, fennel
  • selection of crunchy toppings. I just used sesame seeds, but you can sprinkle over any of your favourite seeds. For extra spice, add slices of birds eye chillies!
  • selection of herbs. I used coriander. Dill, fennel, Thai holy basil, or mint are great substitutions which bring their own character.
  • selection of spices. I used 1tsp chilli flakes. A similar amount of cumin, garam masala, Sichuan peppercorns, nigella seeds,

For the noodle sauce

You can also add other flavours, like tamarind, lemongrass, or tomato paste.

  • 5cm ginger (or 2tsp of paste), more or less if you prefer
  • 2 garlic cloves (or 2tsp of paste), more or less if you prefer
  • 1tbsp sesame oil (any oil will do in a pinch)
  • 1tbsp soy (or tamari)
  • 1tbsp rice vinegar (or cider vinegar or extra lemon/lime/orange juice)
  • half a lime
  • 2tbsp Scotchujang Chilli Jam (or another chilli jam, sweet chilli sauce, or hot sauce)
  • a splash of coconut aminos or vegan fish sauce (optional)


  • pot for boiling noodles
  • knife
  • fine grater
  • garlic crusher
  • a julienne peeler will make your life easier
  • big mixing bowl


  1. Prep all your veggies into thin matchsticks. If you can julienne peel them then do that, otherwise cut them up lengthways into 5-10cm long strips about 2-5mm thick. If you're using tenderstem broccoli, cut in half lengthways and stir fry for 1 couple minutes to soften them a little.
  2. Prep your chosen herbs. Chop them roughly, not smaller than 1 sq cm pieces.
  3. Grate the ginger into the mixing bowl.
  4. Crush the garlic and add add to the mixing bowl.
  5. Mix the noodle sauce. Put the rest of the sauce ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir well.
  6. Cook your noodles al dente. Place them in boiling water then cook them for about 1 min less than the pack instructs. They're done when they're not crunchy anymore.
  7. Drain the noodles, then rinse the noodles with cold water. Keep rinsing them until they're cold. Dump them into the mixing bowl. mix well, making sure all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
  8. Add all the veggies and herbs to the noodles, and mix well. Use your hands, it's easier!
  9. When you serve, sprinkle over your toppings. If it's a particularly hot day, refrigerate for a while before serving.

This noodle salad will keep for a couple days in the fridge, depending on your ingredients (e.g. lettuce will wilt the quickest).

Read on for the recipe for the crispy tofu topping!

Crispy sticky tofu recipe

Here's how to make some delicious crispy tofu. You can serve this with the noodle salad, have it with rice, or even just by itself as a side or a snack.


For the crispy tofu

  • Firm or extra firm tofu (I prefer Clearspot)
  • Oil for frying, I used sunflower. Don't use coconut or low smoking point oil, it'll burn.
  • Potato starch or cornflour for crispiness, you can use other flours but the texture will be different.
  • peanuts

For the sticky coating

  • 1tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 1tbsp your favourite chilli jam. I used Scotchujang for this recipe.


  • Mixing bowl lined with paper towel
  • A pan suitable for frying. You can either shallow fry (you'll just need to flip the tofu a lot) or go for a deep fry in a bigger pan. Do not use a non-stick pan either way.


  1. Press the tofu if you need to. You don't for Clearspot extra firm. Here's a guide on pressing tofu.
  2. Cut tofu into cubes about 5x5x5cm. You can do bigger, like 7x7x7 to get a softer inside, but don't go bigger than that.
  3. Add oil to your pan, and bring to a medium heat. If you're shallow frying, cover the pan. If you're deep frying, add oil to a depth at least 8cm. There's a lot of technique to deep frying. Dip in a wooden chopstick and see if bubbles come out the end - if not it's too cold. If your oil is smoking, it's too hot - turn down heat and leave for 5 minutes.
  4. Dust the tofu pieces with the flour while you're waiting for your oil. Shake off excess flour and
  5. Gently and slowly place each piece of tofu into the oil. There should be a lot of small bubbles.
  6. Keep an eye on the frying pan. Gently flip the tofu every couple of minutes. When a piece of tofu stops bubbling and all sides are golden brown, take it out and put in the mixing bowl. It should take about 5 minutes for each chunk.
  7. Process the rest of the tofu. This could take a while so don't get impatient!
  8. When you're done, turn off the heat and put the pan to the side.
  9. Take the paper towel out of the tofu.
  10. Add the jam and peanuts to the tofu Mix well until everything is coated. If needed add the sesame oil gradually to get the right texture.
  11. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. You can also add coriander or spring onion tops for a bit of green.

Like anything deep fried, this is best eaten straightaway. If you have leftovers, put it in the oven to recrisp it.

Bring it all together

Bowl up the noodle salad, top with chunks of the tofu, sesame seeds, and garnish with a few herb leaves. Great with an iced drink

Share and enjoy!

Featured in this recipe

Scotchujang Chilli Jam

A blend of scotch bonnets, gochujang and gochugaru - for those who want a bit more punch. Heat: 3/5


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