Friday, July 18, 2008

Otsu - Soba Noodle Salad with Pan Fried Tofu or "Should Eat Foods"


Quivering gelatinous mass or
tasteless injection molded blob? The answer tonight on FOX News!

As I've pointed out before, SSSal and I once spent a year cooking things we'd always hated: eggplant, fennel etc. The experiment worked in that we now know the difference between the foods we truly hate and those we thought we hated. Of course there are a couple of foods that are still open to debate, e.g., eggplant - SSSal loves it, Crabby finds it vaguely repellent, etc.

One of the other swing foods is tofu. Understand that both SSSal and I find it to be a tasteless mass, whose real value is in visual appeal and added bulk. It's culinary styrofoam. Bland, forgettable, designed to absorb sauce and take up space. Wow, gimme a plate of that!!!

But wait. SSSal and I, "being of a certain age", now find ourselves worrying about nutritional values, bone density and protein - cholesterol trade-offs. We have entered that dreaded phase of life, "The Should Eat Food " stage. We should eat more vegetables. We should eat more fruit. We should eat less red meat. We should, we should, we should. Eating is suddenly Roman Catholic.

Then there's tofu. High in protein, calcium, iron and magnesium, (sounds like I'm building a TV set not dinner). Low in calories and virtually no cholesterol. It's healthy. It's good for you. You should eat it. Gawd, I can't stand it. Tofu is one of those foods where humans start to confuse quantity of life with quality of life.

But, I love SSSal and want our lives together to last as long as possible. So, in an effort to find the maximized point on the quantity vs. quality curve, I give you Otsu, a soba noodle salad with pan fried tofu. This salad is a two-fer, not only healthy tofu, but also super healthy soba noodles. Heck, eat this 24/7 and you might live forever, you won't have many dinner companions, but you'll live forever. Be forewarned, I found the dressing a bit "zesty", if you're sensitive to that taste, I'd add the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time, tasting along the way. Enjoy.

Otsu - Soba Noodle Salad with Pan Fried Tofu
from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson


Grated zest of 1 Lemon
Fresh Ginger, 1" cube, peeled and grated
1 TBSP Honey
3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (for something less spicy, cut back to 1/4 tsp.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBSP Sesame Oil


12 oz. dried soba noodles
12 oz. extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise, seeded & thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Combine the lemon zest, ginger, honey, cayenne and salt in a blender, process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vinegar and soy. With the machine running, slowly add the olive and sesame oils.

Cook the soba noodles per package instructions. When done, rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

Drain the tofu. Pat the block dry with paper towels. Cut the tofu into rectangular pieces roughly 1"' in length. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, (I added a small amount of olive oil to help the browning process). Add the tofu, cooking 1 - 2 minutes per side, until the cubes are nicely golden brown in color.

In a large bowl, combine the soba, chopped cilantro, green onions cucumber and dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the cooked tofu and mix gently. Serve on a platter garnished with sesame seeds.

There you go. A light dinner, or a small serving first course. I'll be honest, I prefer my cool peanut soba to this recipe, but this one is probably better for you. Anyway, until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.


Anonymous said...

Good on you guys for trying so many foods you didn't like! Here's my variation on Otsu Noodles, which is one my all time favorite foods. said...

Thanks for the new recipe Michael. After seeing the positive reaction the cool peanut soba recipe received I spent some time searching for more soba ideas. I was surprised to find very few unique recipes. So anything and everything that adds to the database is great.

Anonymous said...

A native Bostonian like myself, gets Soba after every evening of wine tasting.


Anonymous said...

i will experiment with your recipe tomorrow, but i had to tell you today that your writeup cracked me up! love your humor.