I usually turn to pasta for a simple mid-week dinner, but after traveling to Japan I swapped pasta for soba noodles. The best part about soba noodles is that you can enjoy them warm or cold, making them a perfect dish for any season.
Soba means buckwheat in Japanese and most soba noodles are naturally gluten-free. However, some are mixed with wheat flour so if you are sensitive to gluten, be sure to check the ingredients on the label. You can purchase soba noodles at most natural grocers or any local Japanese market.
Keep an eye on the noodles as you’re boiling them as you don’t want to overcook. I usually boil any type of noodle a minute or so less than the suggested time to achieve an al dente texture. You can make this recipe simpler by purchasing pre-baked tofu, but I can’t guarantee it will yield the crispy and delicious flavor of the recipe below.
16 oz of extra firm tofu (1 package)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
*2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon water
**1 teaspoon chili paste plus more for a spicier flavor, and to serve
1-2 tablespoons arrowroot flour or cornstarch
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup tamari soy sauce, or soy sauce of choosing
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup, honey or agave
2 tablespoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chili paste
juice of one lime
1 bunch (about 8 oz) broccolini, ends cut off (about one-inch)
3/4 cup steamed and shelled edamame (they sell it prepackaged or frozen at most grocery stores)
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups spinach
black toasted sesame seeds, about 2-3 tablespoons
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 lime, sliced
Slice the tofu block in half lengthwise. Place each piece side by side, between two folded dish towels. Put a cookbook or heavier object on top to help press the water out of the tofu. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or longer. Next, whisk together the ingredients for both the tofu marinade and ginger dressing into separate dishes.
Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Once the tofu has drained, slice it into one-inch cubes and place into a deep bowl. Pour the marinade over the tofu and toss until evenly coated. Next, mix the arrowroot into the tofu. Spread out evenly onto the lined sheet pan; save the remaining marinade to add to the noodles later if desired, or when sauteing the mushrooms. Bake the tofu for 15-20 minutes, flipping it over after about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. At the same time, heat the saute pan over medium-high and add in the sliced mushrooms. Cover for a minute or so to allow the mushrooms to release their moisture. Then, add a few tablespoons of the ginger dressing to the mushrooms and/or the left over tofu marinade. Continue to cook on medium heat until the mushrooms are tender, about 5-7 minutes, adding more dressing as necessary. Check on the tofu and remove when it has a browned and crispy texture.
Once the water is boiling, cook the noodles as directed (I usually cook them at least one to two minutes below the suggested time, as they will continue to cook once drained). In the last minute of cooking the noodles, throw in the broccolini and sugar snap peas. After one minute, or when the veggies turn bright green, pour all the contents through a large strainer and rinse with cold water.
Return the noodles and blanched vegetables to the pot. Immediately add in the edamame and spinach, one handful at a time. Pour about half the ginger dressing into the pot. Mix and taste, adding more dressing as desired. Dish the noodles into deep bowls and top with the tofu, black sesame seeds, plenty of cilantro, squeeze of lime and some extra chili paste.