Nathan Villasenor / Daily Nexus

As Week 8 of the quarter looms ominously, the cold nights and long hours at the library seem to weigh a bit heavier on our shoulders than usual. In this bleak winter, frozen meals don’t really cut it anymore. You deserve to eat a delicious home-cooked meal that doesn’t require a plane or train ticket back home. In comes this pad thai-inspired shrimp and tofu noodle dish. What’s great about this meal is that you can make as much as your heart desires and save the rest for a later meal because it keeps for at least a week in the fridge. If you accidentally make too much, just call it meal prep and, all of a sudden, you’re 100 times more productive (speaking from experience). 

YIELD: 3 servings

TIME: 30 minutes


  • 1 cup rice noodles, sometimes labeled rice sticks or pad thai noodles (you can get these from Isla Vista Food Co-op or any grocery store)
  • 10 raw frozen or fresh shrimp (or as many as you want!)
  • ⅓ block firm tofu
  • Sauce
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (if you don’t have this, just double the soy sauce)
    • 1 tablespoon pad thai sauce (or honey)
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon ground chili sauce or a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (you don’t have to add this if you don’t like spice)
  • Optional:
    • 1-2 eggs, beaten
    • 1-2 green onions for garnish and flavor
    • Lime wedges
    • Chopped peanuts


  1. Soak the rice noodles in hot or room temperature water for at least 15 minutes and prep the other ingredients while they soak. I like to boil water in my Hello Kitty water boiler and soak the noodles in a large bowl with a lid on top.
  2. If using frozen shrimp, thaw the frozen shrimp in the microwave on the defrost setting for about 2-4 minutes. After defrosting, pull off their tails and devein as needed. I recommend getting prepeeled, raw, frozen shrimp so you can skip this process. Precooked frozen shrimp also works, but there is a higher chance of overcooking them in the pan.
  3. Cut the ⅓ block of tofu into small cubes or slices, whichever you prefer. These may get ripped into smaller pieces while sautéing, so don’t worry too much about their shape and size.
  4. Mix all of the sauce ingredients together with a spoon until smooth. Adjust to personal liking.
  5. Optional: Chop the green onions and remove the roots. Beat together 1-2 eggs and set aside in a bowl. 
  6. Remove the soaking rice noodles from the water and drain in the sink.
  7. Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil or any other cooking oil in a large pan on medium heat and add in the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, and flip the shrimp after they turn pink. Repeat the seasoning process on the other side.
  8. Place the shrimp aside (either on the side of the pan, or remove from heat and place in a bowl) and add in the tofu cubes. Sauté on medium heat for about 2 minutes or until the tofu softens slightly.
  9. Add the shrimp back into the pan if you removed them. Add in the drained rice noodles and incorporate with the shrimp and tofu.
  10. Optional: Push the noodles to the side of the pan and pour in the beaten eggs. Scramble them in the pan while mixing them into the noodles.
  11. Pour the sauce on top of the noodles and lower the heat to medium low. Continue to stir-fry until the sauce is fully incorporated and the noodles have softened slightly. You don’t want the noodles to be too soft because they may turn mushy.
  12. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat. Sprinkle the green onions on top and plate with lime wedges and chopped peanuts.

Enjoy making this with a special someone for date night, as a cute activity with your friends or as a relaxing ritual to treat yourself for the week ahead.

A version of this article appeared on p. 8 of the March 2, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.