H.R. Soy Pufnstuf
This individual serving of soy puff panang curry is a Saturday favorite at the Double Deuce. It’s fast, easy, tasty, and cheap. What’s not to love?
I don’t think my (admittedly light and very vegetarian) version takes the place of traditional, decadent panang curry, but for a fast meal between rushing from school (ugh, yes, every Saturday morning) to the gym, I’m pretty sure I could do a lot worse. No, really, Arby’s is smack dab between campus and condo and I have a Pavlovian response to the words, “curly fries.”
Aw damn, now I want curly fries.
This dish comes together in a matter of minutes. I think about 10 minutes, from ingredients to bowl. I’m going to present this dish the way I first made it (long, long ago), and go into a little detail about how my cheap ass has continued to make it since then.
For the making you will need:
About 5 Soy puffs
1 tsp Panang curry paste
Instant rice vermicelli (I typically break off a section that would fit between my thumb and forefinger if I’m making the “OK” hand gesture)
2 T coconut milk
Ground red pepper
(This is truly a one person dish, but it’s easy enough to increase for more eaters.)
For the making, you will need:
A bowl that is large enough to soak your noodles
Wok (or a frying pan will work just fine)
This is what you do:
Start boiling water in your saucepan. While you wait for that, soak your rice noodles in coolish water. Now while you wait for that (mine usually takes about 5 minutes, if that), heat up two tablespoons of coconut milk in your wok along with a teaspoon of curry paste. Get that all nice and mixed up, and add a quarter cup of water to it and some crushed red pepper if you like things on the spicy side.
Is your hot water boiling? Good, toss your soy puffs in there to blanch. The reason you do this is is to leech out the excess oil in these beauties. Soy puffs, being deep fried tofu, are really greasy if you don’t take this step. Also, being puffs, they will want to float to the top of your pot. I foil their plans by putting something on top of them, lately, a metal steam basket. I keep it real in the kitchen.
While you take a minute or two to blanch your puffs, drain the noodles and add them to the wok. Give it all a good stir, the mixture will probably become pretty dry at this point so feel free to add more water to make it soupy again. The puffs are gonna soak up a lot of the sauce.
Speaking of those puffs, now you can add them. Stir it all up, but you’re basically done cooking at this point, it’s now just a matter of sauce being soaked into the noodles and puffs. “Puff” is starting to not look like a word anymore. Transfer it all to a bowl or plate, sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy!
Using an online recipe calculator, this dish comes out to about 548 calories, which seems like a lot but I like to console myself with the belief that I’ve lessened the actual amount through blanching the puffs. La la la, I can’t hear you tell me otherwise!
I remember the first time I made this, I was left with most of a can of coconut milk, and a grip of fresh basil. As I pretty much just cook for myself, and that in bulk, I knew that if I were to just put these things in the fridge they’d go bad before I had another chance to cook with them. Enter stage left: the freezer. And entering on stage right: the creative use of baking utensils.
Using a muffin tin, I measured 2 tablespoons into every muffin cavity (that sounds dirty). I washed all the basil and spread it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and popped both trays into the freezer. Once everything was good and frozen, I tossed the basil into a freezer bag, and dislodged the coconut milk and placed them in a Gladware with sheets of wax paper between them to avoid sticking. It should be noted that fresh basil will darken in the freezer, but the flavor will be fine. And now I can skip measuring out coconut milk, thus shaving precious seconds of cooking time while adding precious pennies to my bank account!