This week’s meals have had a distinct East Asia theme – Monday night I was at work so long that I said screw it and picked up some dinner from Thai Spice rather than cook. My go to is the Pad Woon Sen with chicken or tofu – I prefer the cellophane noodles to thick pad thai noodles. C really likes the Tom Kha with tofu – and that’s a development after four years, C will eat tofu as the protein of the meal… Umm, yeah blew my mind too.
Then on Wednesday I was able to finally test out this vision I had for a recipe I’m doing for a cooking class – and obviously I’m going to share it on the blog too. 🙂
The idea started when C and I made the Spicy Ramen recipe from Pinch of Yum. While the ramen was good, I couldn’t help but just stand by the counter dunking my tofu into the miso sauce – without putting it in the broth. When looking to create my own version, I decided to go away fro the traditional ramen noodles because they can be really high in sodium and some fat. Since the miso is salty enough, I decided to go for a soba noodle. It was definitely the right choice.
If you’re not sure if you’re a tofu fan, it’s probably because you’ve never had it prepared correctly – lots of places just deep fry the heck out of it and it’s like biting in to a sponge. Umm, no, just no. That texture is for dips, mousses, and sauces, not the “meaty” portion of the meal. The key is to press the tofu to get rid of excess liquid and prevent that spongy texture. I also prefer the baked or grilled tofu to the pan fried – for some reason I have better luck with the first two methods.
Miso Sauced Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu
Serves 2 very large or 4 normal portions
- 16 oz firm or extra firm tofu
- Vegetables of choice – I used a convenient mixed stir-fry blend with broccoli, sliced carrots, pea pods, and kale
- 2 large shiitake mushrooms, cut thinly length wise (optional)
- Green onion for final taste and garnish
Spicy Miso Sauce
- 1/2 small or 1/4 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 c red miso paste
- 1/4 c yellow miso broth concentrate (can use this for both misos if can’t find the red)
- 2 T sambel oelek – chili paste – if using a garlic chili paste, omit garlic cloves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 T mirin – like rice wine for cooking
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1T (scant) toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp red curry paste (optional but encouraged)
- Begin by draining and cutting your tofu into eight slices (dividing the width of the tofu block). To compress tofu if you don’t have a fancy contraption, lay tofu slices on a level surface on top of some towels and paper towels, then place an addition layer of towels and paper towels on top of that. Place a large board – I use my cutting board over the top – then weigh down with heavy books. Cook books work great! Wait at least 30 minutes.
- While you’re pressing the excess liquid out of the tofu, you can get started on the miso sauce and preheat the oven to 400F.
- In a food processor, puree all of the spicy miso sauce ingredients. It will be a thick sauce. Scrap out into a bowl and set aside.
- Once the tofu is sufficiently pressed, you can arrange to slices on a non-stick baking sheet or one covered in foil and lightly oiled. Brush tofu lightly with olive or vegetable oil, then brush on a layer of the miso sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired level of crispiness.
- While the tofu bakes, start a large pot of water boiling for the noodles.
- In a large pan, sauté the vegetables and mushrooms until cooked but vegetables are still slightly crisp. You can also cook the mushrooms separately first and then add back in at the end of the vegetable cooking. Add a tablespoon of the miso sauce to the vegetable pan and stir. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.
- Once water has reached a boiling point in the large pot, add in soba noodles and cook as directed – cooked through, but not mushy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain noodles and place in very large bowl.
- In the very large bowl, toss together the noodles and vegetables with 1/3 c miso sauce to start. Add additional sauce until noodles have reached the desired level of flavor, some additional splashes of water may be needed to ensure even sauce coverage. You will have left over sauce – don’t worry that’s a good thing to save for later. 🙂
- Plate noodles and serve with crispy tofu – brush tofu with additional miso sauce layer once out of oven.
Seriously in love with this sauce. Beware it is really salty, because well, miso is salty and full of umami goodness. The miso paste will have a more concentrated flavor as will the red miso, so if you want to just do the yellow or the broth concentrate, that works too! And miso is a really good health food – it’s fermented which means it has some of those good bacteria, it also is packed with nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins. Maybe I should start switching all of my regular broth recipes to miso?
I’d also recommend making an extra 16 oz of crispy tofu to dunk later in the left over miso sauce – as Martha would say, it’s definitely a good thing.
Do you ever get on a theme week with food? With leftover miso paste, what are some of your favorite dishes that require miso?