So what does one accompany some tofu stir fry with? Rice is the go-to choice, of course, but that gets boring after a while. Let’s try something different. Let’s try soba noodles.
Soba’s a bit different from your regular pasta and is instead made from buckwheat (you give scientists enough time they’ll make noodles out of anything) and is used in a lot of cold dishes. I went the classic sesame and soy route, with a bit of spice. Try it out!
Sesame Chili Soba Noodles
I ended up using 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon of hot bean paste rather than chili saucebecause I was out, but I think both would work fine.
8oz dried soba noodles
4 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove garlic; minced
toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Boil the noodles in salted water per the instructions; probably 6-8 minutes. While the noodles are boiling mix all the remaining ingredients but the sesame seeds. When the noodles are ready, strain, transfer to a bowl and mix together the sauce one spoonful at a time until you get your desired sauciness. Serve (hot or cold), sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy.
I didn’t talk much about the tofu in the stir fry I posted about earlier this week and another one of its vices: its fragile form. Tofu falls apart really easy, even when working the extra firm kind. This stuff does not take a beating well and the stirring and tossing of making a stir fry will cause it to crumble. (Interesting Fact! Did you know the main difference between soft and firm tofu is simply the amount of water? Now you do!) There are a couple ways (that I know of) to make tofu more resilient, pressing more water out and giving it a quick sear. I decided to revisit this week’s stir fry with a seared tofu and then pressed & seared tofu.
The searing was pretty straight forward. After taking half a block of tofu and cutting it into quarter inch pieces, I threw them in a pan under medium-high heat with a bit of oil. Thanks to the high water content of tofu there was quite a bit of spitting. I let it sit for a bit, checking occasionally for browning on the bottom as a sign that it was becoming a bit more stable, then tossed it with a tablespoon of tamari. I then continued to cook till browned on all sides. Between the tamari and browning, the tofu took on a nice flavor and was much firmer.
While I was working on the first half of tofu the second half was sitting in a colinder with a mid-size pot full of water resting on top. This was to press water out for about 45 minutes. Then I pretty much did the same thing as above. Still plenty of water for for spitting, but the browning was much quicker and deeper. In fact, I stepped away to wash a few dishes and got some burning very quickly!
Overall, I liked the second method for a stronger structure as well as a more significant taste. Both worked well and I may consider the first method for depending on what ingredients I’m adding it to and where I want it as a dominant ingredient or not.
If you don’t like red bell peppers (what is wrong with you!?!), then you’re probably not a fan of me either right now. Today’s recipe is following along that vein with even more of that red gold (does that fit?). I was at the local Trader Joes, being reminded how much I love that store (and their prices), and picked up some tofu. The great thing about tofu is that it doesn’t have much taste of it’s own, taking on whatever flavor of it’s fellow ingredients. The horrible thing about tofu is that it doesn’t have much taste of it’s own, taking on whatever flavor of it’s fellow ingredients.
So what do I do? I add cabbage; another ingredient that is not well known for it’s vibrant flavor. Red pepper takes the save, with help from its trusty side kick, the caraway seed. Not something one often cooks with, all I can think of is bread, but it worked out well.
Oh, and use a big pan for this. This, I learned the hard way.
Tofu And Cabbage Stir Fry With Red Bell Pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion; chopped
16oz extra firm tofu; cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper; diced
1 lb cabbage; roughly chopped
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
In a large pan, sauté the onions in oil under medium heat until translucent; approximately 10 minutes. Raise to medium-high, add the red bell peppers and caraway seeds, cooking for another five minutes, then add tofu and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the cabbage, toss to combine well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally.
Uncover, add the rice wine, soy sauce, half a cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes. Cabbage will be tender but still have a bit of bite to to it. Serve and enjoy.
Well, it’s finals week here in my grad program… which means I’ll be disappearing for a few days.
That’s right, the kitchen is closed! We’ll be living off of leftovers and take-out, the perfect thing to get ready for shorts/bathing suit-wearing weather.
I leave you with some pictures taken earlier today of the devil dog himself, Biscuit. That’s right, in addition to taking off for a few days I’m also the kind of person who doesn’t mind putting their dog in clothes…