Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
I must admit that I’ve been incredibly lazy in the kitchen these past few weeks. It’s been really warm and humid (for San Diego standards, that is) and the last thing I want to do is hang out over the hot stove for long periods of time.

And don’t even get me started about my utter disdain for dishes!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
So my “cooking” of late has really consisted of compiling ingredients (salads or sandwiches), charcuterie boards (AMEN!), or quick prep dishes such as stir-frys.

Because…you know…. EVERYTHING STIR-FRY and all.

Total shameless plug.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
But all self-promotion aside, stir-fry dishes are a total legit way to get something scrumptious in your belly with minimal cooking time. The majority of your efforts primarily go towards chopping the ingredients— easy peasy!

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
This Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai is a slight variation of my Pork Larb Gai which is a Thai minced pork salad. For the protein I went with a surf and turf approach as I love the flavor combo. For the ground chicken, you can go with breast meat but I prefer the flavor of dark meat. And if you want a really light approach, sub the chicken with ground turkey breast.

Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai

Whichever protein you select, you’ll really love Larb Gai –-especially during the summer months. The dish is light yet fulfilling and is punched up with TONS of flavor from the fresh lime juice, bright herbs and savory sauce. I often have it over steamed rice but when I’m feeling extra lazy or when it’s warm out, I use it as filling for lettuce wraps. Either way, you’ll love it.

Enjoy!

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Thai Inspired Shrimp & Chicken Larb Gai
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 teaspoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced red onions or shallots
4-5 kaffir lime leaves, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground chicken
½ pound peeled shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon ground toasted rice powder*
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn

In a small bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the minced onions, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ½ teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the ground chicken.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the chicken around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes and then add the shrimp Stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes until the shrimp becomes pink and opaque. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, sliced red onions, mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce. Serve immediately with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

Seester’s Beef Panang Curry

Beef Panang Curry

Since I posted the round up we did for our Thai themed Sunday Family Dinner a few months ago, I’ve been getting TONS of requests for my seester’s recipe for Beef Panang Curry. And today is your lucky day because here it is!

The original recipe came from a Thai cooking class my seester took many moons ago. I’ve adapted it just a slight bit but the method is still quick and easy.

Beef Panang Curry

This recipe makes a lot of curry but it tastes even better over time.  I used some leftover Beef Panang Curry to make the Beef Panang Naan Pizza below. Store bought garlic naan slathered with hummus, topped with beef curry and topped with grape tomatoes and cilantro. What had started off as throwing refrigerator leftovers together turned out to be a delicious re-made meal.

Beef Panang Curry

However you end up serving it, my seester’s Beef Panang Curry is a tasty-under 20 minute meal.

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Seester’s Beef Panang Curry

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef (ribeye, loin steak, tenderloin), sliced thin into bite sized strips
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 can (typically 13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
2 heaping tablespoons Panang curry paste or red curry paste
4-5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely minced
3-4 Thai chilies (jalapeno or serrano can be substituted), minced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms (shiitake, baby portabello, etc.)
2 tablespoons fish sauce, more to taste
2 scallions, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 cups torn fresh Thai basil leaves, about 1 bunch
1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, more to garnish

Season the beef with the pepper and salt. Set aside.

Set a large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat and pour in the coconut milk. Stir and cook until the milk begins to separate – about 5 minutes.

Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and cook for an additional minute.

Stir in the bell pepper, mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the beef and stir around the pot for 1-2 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Add in the fish sauce, scallions, basil and cilantro. Cook the beef for another 1-2 minutes. Taste and add more fish sauce as needed.

Serve hot over rice. Garnish with additional cilantro leaves.

Thai Fried Fish Cakes

Thai Fried Fish Cakes

Oh…Hey.

So, do you remember when my Fam Bam did a Thai themed Family Dinner? Because if you don’t, let me tell ya it was DEE-LICOUS!

Totes ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK……

And as I said before, my MVP dish of the night goes to my seester’s fried fish cakes. Although humble at first glance, these scrumptious bites are out of this world. Definitive seafood flavor punched with kaffir and something subtly rich—coconut milk.

I wish I had them right now…..like a dozen of them! These beauties poof up when you them and settle down to an even “fritter like” consistency.  And trust me, double the batch because you’ll want more!

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Thai Fried Fish Cakes
From About.com

1 lb (.454 kg) white-fleshed fish fillets
6 kaffir lime leaves, snipped into thin strips
3 tablespoon coconut milk
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste or 1 extra tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
3 green onions, sliced
1 thumb-size piece galangal OR ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic
1 red chili, sliced or 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chili
1/3 to 1/2 cucumber (to accompany cakes)
oil for high temp. frying
To SERVE: Thai sweet chili sauce, lime wedges, handful fresh coriander

Rinse fish and pat thoroughly dry (if using frozen, the fish will be more moist so be sure to dry it as well as you can). Cut into chunks and place in food processor or large food chopped.

In a cup, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, chili powder, cumin, ground coriander, and brown sugar. Stir with a fork to combine, then pour into the processor over the fish.

Add remaining ingredients (kaffir lime leaf strips, green onion, galangal/ginger, garlic, and chili). Pulse to create a thick fish paste.

Picking up a small amount in your hand (about the size of a golf ball) pat the paste into a small cake and set on a clean plate. Note that traditional Thai fish cakes are small (about 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 to 1 inch thick) and not too thick. Tips: If your paste is too wet to easily form into cakes, add a little flour or breadcrumbs to the mix. As you continue making the cakes, it helps to rinse your hands every so often with cool water to prevent paste from sticking.

Set plate of cakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, prepare your pan for frying as well as your garnishes. Cut the cucumber length-wise, then dice up into small cubes and set aside. Pour oil into a small frying pan or wok (at least 1 inch deep).

Heat oil. When hot enough (a breadcrumb should sizzle and cook immediately when dropped in), gently place cakes in oil. Allow to fry 30 seconds to 1 minute before turning, gently lifting cakes from the bottom of the pan (they may stick a little). Fry until golden-brown and drain on paper towel.

Serve fish cakes immediately with the chopped cucumber and Thai sweet chili sauce drizzled over. Top with fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime juice just before eating. Excellent like this, or served with rice for a main course dish. ENJOY!

Make Ahead Tip: You can make the fish paste up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and set in the refrigerator, then form into cakes and fry.

(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Pork Larb Gai

Larb (also often spelled as laap or laab) has been one of my favorite Thai dishes for a long time. It essentially translates to “minced meat salad” and can be made from a variety of different proteins – pork, beef, chicken, fish, duck, etc.

The word larb means “to chop up” in Thai. That’s right folks–authentic larb aficionados use a cleaver to chop/mince their proteins until they reach the perfect consistency. But truthfully, I’m a tad lazy and use pre-ground pork/chicken/turkey.

Andy Ricker, chef and author of Pok Pok does a beautiful job narrating his adventures of Thai cuisine and does an infinitely superior job of explaining the nuances of larb than I ever could. In a nutshell, there are two different schools of larb — the Northern Thai version and Northeastern Thai (Isaan) version. I gravitate towards the Isaan style that is heavily laden with citrus and toasted rice powder. The Northern style also uses various proteins and herbs but often includes pork/beef blood.

Pork Larb

I’m obsessed with Isaan-style larb because it’s truly a flavor explosion (I’m so cheesy). It’s incredibly savory with the garlic, shallots, fish sauce……bright and aromatic from the tons of citrus & fresh herbs…..and rather “earthy” from the toasted rice powder. Whether you eat it with sticky rice or as lettuce wraps, larb has multiple layers of texture, especially when you take intermittent bites of fresh cucumber slices, cabbage or fresh chiles.

My version isn’t totally authentic but it definitely is my homage to the original and can be whipped up in about 20 minutes. Not bad at all when you need a quick bite and its lightness is perfect for a warm summer meal.

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(Isaan) Pork Larb Gai – Thai Minced Pork Salad

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon warm water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
1 tablespoon minced Thai chiles, divided
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 pound ground pork
2 scallions, chopped
1 heaping tablespoon toasted rice powder*
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly torn
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly torn
accoutrements: extra fresh herbs, lime wedges, cabbage, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, steamed rice

In a bowl, create the sauce by whisking together the sugar and warm water until dissolved. Add in 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1/2 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste). Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add 1/4 teaspoon minced chiles (more to taste), red chili flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and add in the pork.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the pork around the wok/skillet while breaking it apart to a crumbled consistency. Cook the pork until it is no longer pink, approximately 3-4 minutes. Stir in the remaining fish sauce and scallions.

Remove the wok/skillet from the heat. Toss in the rice powder, remaining lime juice, red onions, mint, cilantro, and basil. Stir in a few spoonfuls of the sauce to taste. Plate the larb with extra fresh herbs, whole chiles, lime wedges, sliced cucumbers, lettuce and cabbage. Serve with either steamed rice or whole lettuce leaves for wraps. The remaining sauce can be served alongside as a dipping sauce.

*If you cannot find pre-ground toasted rice powder, you can easily make your own. Toast uncooked jasmine rice in a skillet over low heat until golden brown. Once cooled, transfer the toasted rice into a spice grinder and grind until you get a fine powder.

“One Night in Bangkok” – Thai themed Family Dinner

February 2014: Thai Fam Din

“One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy….”

Uh…not going to lie. That song rocks but I have no idea what any of the words are beside “one night in Bangkok“…But that didn’t stop my sibs and I from blaring that oldie but goodie when we had our last Sunday Family Dinner where we whipped up some of our favorite delish Thai inspired dishes…… it was the only right thing to do.

We started off with a few Thai Iced Teasthat the kiddos made using a quick recipe from White on Rice. This little number is full flavored—deep, deep black tea mixed up with a decadent douse of half and half. After a quick sip of this concoction I was convinced that there’s no need to order this out ever again. It’s so easy to make at home, plus, you can’t put a price tag on the entertainment you get when you pour the half and half into the tea to get a swirly -stormy mixture.

GORGEOUS!

Thai Iced Tea

And since the kiddos were set on their drinks, it was time for the 21+ to have a little drinky in our hands. I decided to mix up a little number that I appropriately called “One Night in Bangkok”.

Kaffir lime infused simple syrup, fresh lime juice, vodka, pineapple chunks, lime juice, mint and club soda.

Uh…YES, PLEASE!

One Night in Bangkok

We then moved on to some pre-dinner appetizers. Big seester made Thai Fish Cakes {Tod Mun Pla} with a Cucumber Salad that was my hands down, favorite dish of the night. They’re a common street food (LOVE street foods) in Thailand and she used the recipe found here.

Now, you may think fish cakes sound fairly mundane but do not underestimate these little buggers. They really knocked me off my feet by being incredibly moist and tender and were incredibly aromatic from the kaffir lime leaves. And you’ll never guess what’s in the fish paste……coconut milk!!!

I could’ve easily eaten a dozen of these fish cakes over rice and wish we would’ve doubled the batch! Oh wait– she did double the batch!:)

Thai Fish Cakes

Our second app for the night was my Pork Larb Gai Lettuce Wraps. It’s a dish that I make often but have tweaked several times over the years. Larb ( or laap, laab, etc.) can be made from a variety of proteins and is typically mixed with tons of fresh herbs, a fish sauce mixture, citrus, toasted ground rice, and depending on where in Thailand it’s made–pork/beef blood…..though I always it omit it.

Larb is DEE-LISH. If I was on a low carb diet, I’d eat it every day-all day. Since you can make it with anything, you can choose a really lean protein and the citrus & herbs makes it a very bright and satisfying dish.

Pork Larb

Big sis then made a Shrimp & Chicken Pad Thai using Alice’s recipe from Sweet Savory Life. It’s my go-to Pad Thai recipe whenever I want to make it at home and my overview of it can be found here.

Pad Thai

My other seester, T, made a big ol’ pot of Tom Yum Koong. Tons of seafood, aromatics and flavors that played with sour, sweet and a lots of spice!

Tom Yum Koong

She also made rich and hearty Beef Panang Curry.

Beef Penang Curry

And finally, dessert. As a nod to Thai flavors, I decided to pair one of my old recipes, Toasted Coconut Gelato with hot and crispy Fried Bananas. I mean, c’mon now. You CANNOT go  wrong with that!

IMG_63791

I’ve got to confess to y’all. Our Thai themed Sunday Family Dinner was awesome.

Sure, there were a lot of different dishes but they weren’t really heavy which allowed us to shovel it all in without feeling too bad. Definitely one of our more successful Family Dinners if I do say so myself. And since we started off with it, let me share with you how to make “One Night in Bangkok”.

One Night in Bangkok

ไชโย Folks and let’s see what next month has to offer!

 

This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: One Night in Bangkok, Thai Iced Tea
Appetizers: Fried Thai Fish Cakes with Cucumber Salad, Pork Larb Gai Lettuce Wraps
Entrees: Shrimp & Chicken Pad Thai, Tom Yum Koong, Beef Panang Curry
Dessert: Fried Bananas with Toasted Coconut Gelato

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One Night in Bangkok
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
12-15 whole kaffir lime leaves, divided
¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks
2 lime wedges
3-4 mint leaves
2 ounces vodka
ice
3-4 ounces tonic water

Prepare the Kaffir Lime infused Simple Syrup. In a small pot, add the sugar, water and kaffir lime leaves. Bring the liquids to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking the syrup on low for 5-10 minutes until it’s thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the Kaffir Lime infused Simple Syrup to a resealable jar or container. It may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the pineapple chunks, lime wedges, mint leaves, 1 kaffir lime leaf and 1 tablespoon of Kaffir Lime infused Simple Syrup. Add the vodka and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds and strain the liquids into a glass filled with ice. Top off the glass with the tonic water and garnish with additional pineapple spears, mint leaves and kaffir lime leaves.  Enjoy!

Green Curry Chicken

Green Curry Chicken

I kind of have a thing for Green Curry.

Green Curry Chicken, Green Curry Tofu, Green Curry Prawns—you name it, I love it.

Green Curry Chicken

This is my go-to take on Green Curry Chicken.

You can use store-bought curry paste or try making your own. I use this recipe for green curry paste which is really quite easy-peasy. You simply throw the ingredients into a food processor and shjooge away.

Or is it juugge?

Shuaage?

Um…how about you just pulse away.

Green Curry Chicken

The recipe makes about a cup of paste and anything I don’t use, I divide into 1/4 cup portions and zip them up in little resealable baggies. I toss those baggies into the freezer and bada-bing-bada-boom —I have curry paste any time I need it.

And if you freeze things, don’t be like me and forget to label them because I’ve got a few containers/resealable baggies in my freezer that I can’t remember what the heck they are. But they could prove to be an adventurous meal by using all of the unidentifiable items from my freezer.:)

Back to the curry….

Green Curry Chicken

You can use any type of protein you prefer and feel free to swap whatever veggies you like— eggplants, snow peas, asparagus, etc. I also like my veggies to have a little more firmness to them and opt to add them in towards the end of the cooking process. However, if you like them a bit more tender, you may want to sauté them for a minute or 2 with the chicken.

Serve it up with a steaming bowl of jasmine rice and you’ll be curry-ific!!!

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Green Curry Chicken
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasted
kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
½ cup diced white onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
1 Thai red chili pepper, minced (2-3 if you prefer more heat)
3 heaping tablespoons green curry paste
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce, more if needed
2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1-inch strips
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1-inch strips
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
¼ cup chopped Thai Basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, more for garnish

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a heavy bottom pot with 2 tablespoons of oil to medium-high. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover.

Lower the heat to medium and add in the remaining oil. Cook the onions until softened and then add the garlic, ginger, and red chili pepper. Sauté for an additional minute and then add in the curry paste. Stir and cook the items for one minute until they become fragrant.

Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce and allow the liquids to come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5-10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Add the kaffir lime leaves, browned chicken, peppers, and mushrooms  into the pot. Stir the items together and simmer (partially covered) for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add in additional fish sauce if needed. Stir in the basil, cilantro and plate.

Garnish with additional cilantro and serve immediately with rice.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

Okay. Here’s my confession.

The way I feel about Pad Thai is how I imagine “non-Vietnamese folks” feel about phở. It’s kind of the gateway dish to the culture’s cuisine but it’s so flippin’ good!

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai


Pad Thai has a whole range of textures and flavors all in one plate…what’s not to love?

So it was high time that I started to make it on my own. After grabbing a few key essentials, I turned to Alice over at Sweet Savory Life to fix up some seriously authentic and delicious Pad Thai.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

By far, this is the best recipe I have tried yet. The sauce is totally clutch and is what makes this version a keeper! I also suggest to not substitute cane sugar for palm sugar as it will be way too sweet.

As for the tamarind, I opted for the concentrate like Alice but my sis shared that she used tamarind pulp when she took a Thai cooking classes.

Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai

And once you have the sauce done, the rest goes by super quick and easy. I owe you big time Alice—this recipe is definitely staying in heavy rotation!:)

With that dear Friends, I hope you have a fabulous Mother’s Day Weekend!

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Shrimp and Tofu Pad Thai
From The Sweet Savory Life

Ingredients:

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup palm sugar
1/2 cup tamarind juice concentrate
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces dried rice stick noodles
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups thinly sliced shrimp and fried tofu
1 egg
1 cup carrots, match sticks
1 cup green onion cut diagonal in ½ inch segments
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
1 cup toasted peanuts chopped
Lime wedge

  1. To make pad thai sauce, heat a small pan on medium low and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind concentrate, and garlic. Cook sauce until palm sugar has completely dissolve. At this point, you will want to taste the sauce and tweek the sweetness or hotness (be careful, the sauce will be hot). To make it more spicy add a little Thai chili powder (I used Thai chiles). Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before storing it in a jar or plastic container.
  2. Boil noodles for 4-5 minutes and drain immediately rinsing with cold water for a few seconds. Noodles should be slightly firmer than Al dente. But don’t worry, they will continue to soften and cook later when stir frying. Using kitchen shears, cut the noodle clump in half. This will make it easier to fry and eat.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or frying pan on high and cook raw shrimp with tofu for 3-4 minutes. Remove tofu/seafood into a small bowl. Next, heat the remaining oil and then add garlic and red onions to the hot pan and stir fry for 1 minute stirring the garlic mixture so it will not burn. Add noodles and stir for 1 minute. Add 3-4 tablespoons Pad Thai sauce continually stirring noodle mixture until well coated with sauce. Add cooked meat/tofu/seafood back and fry for 2-3 minutes. Move the noodle and meat mixture to one side of the pan and crack an egg on the other side. Scramble the egg with a wooden spoon and cook for 30 seconds. Add carrots, green onions, and sprouts and cook for one more minute frying everything together. Test the firmness of the noodle. If the noodle is too firm, fry for an additional minute. If your noodles need more flavor, add another tablespoon of sauce and fry another half minute.
  4. Remove from heat and serve. Garnish with remaining raw carrot match sticks, spouts, cilantro, toasted peanuts, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!