Sunday, June 23, 2013
Quick and Easy Tofu with Ramen Noodles
Time: about 30 minutes
My favorite way to prepare tofu is also the quickest and easiest. It requires no pressing or marinating and is virtually foolproof, yet involves a little danger. Let me explain: to achieve this level of caramelization on the outside while retaining a succulent texture inside, you'll need lots of heat and moisture, which causes little explosions and angry pops inside a covered pan throughout the cooking time. However, once these mini blasts calm down, you'll be left with perfect tofu in front of you in minutes. Here I've served it with some simple ramen and wilted kale to make a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
1 TB olive oil
1 package firm tofu
6 oz. package of ramen noodles
1/3 cup of Everything Sauce
1 heaping tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 TB cold water
2-3 cups of fresh kale, washed, destemmed and ripped into bite-sized pieces
handful of raw cashews
1 TB toasted sesame oil
black and white sesame seeds
Cut the tofu into 4 thick slabs, then cut each slab in half to make 8 squares.
Place a large circular non-stick, flat bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle the oil into the pan, then fan the tofu around the edges of the pan in a single layer (like the petals on a daisy), leaving the center area open. Place a lid over the top and allow the tofu to caramelize for about 10 minutes, undisturbed. It will pop and sputter due to the high heat and moisture in the tofu.
While your tofu is caramelizing, bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Add in the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Rinse under cool water and set aside once done.
Return to your tofu. After the initial 10 minute caramelization is complete, lift the lid straight up carefully (if you tilt the lid, the collected condensation in the lip will drip into the pan, causing more sputtering, so use caution.) Carefully flip the tofu (it will pop and sizzle), cover and allow to caramelize on the other side undisturbed for about 3 minutes. Remove the lid again by pulling it straight up. By this time, most of the water should be expressed/absorbed, so you can now leave the lid off. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to monitor the tofu and remove it from the pan once the level of caramelization is achieved on both sides. Place the tofu pieces onto a plate to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Throw the kale into the same pan you cooked the tofu in. It may also initially sputter, so use caution. Saute for just a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
While your kale is sauteeing, divide the cooked ramen into two bowls. When your kale is done, divide that into the two bowls.
Now increase the heat in the same saute pan to medium high. Add in the Everything Sauce and heat until it bubbles, stirring with a rubber spatula. Add in the cornstarch/water mixture and stir until thick. Now throw the cooked tofu back into the pan and stir and toss to coat. Turn off the heat and divide the tofu and sauce between the two bowls.
Top the tofu and noodles with the black and white sesame seeds and sriracha, and toss some raw cashews over the top. Drizzle the toasted sesame oil over the noodles and serve immediately.