Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quick and Easy Tofu with Ramen Noodles
























Serves 2
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.

INGREDIENTS
1 TB olive oil
1 package firm tofu
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
sriracha sauce

METHOD
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.


23 comments:

  1. Gorgeous dish! I'm going to try that everything sauce on tempeh. And I love the cashew garnish.

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  2. oh wow, this sounds so good, and looks tasty and elegant, too:) I've got kale in the garden still, and always have packs of tofu in the cupboard, and noodles, so seems like I'll just have to make it! :)

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    1. Having fresh kale in a garden nearby sounds heavenly. I hope you enjoy the recipe Christine!

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  3. wow this looks and sounds amazing! delish!

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  4. this was our dinner last night. it took me 2 hours from start to finish, nothing to do with your recipe, but everything to do with a tiny urban kitchen and some white beans that for the love of gawd would not de-skin and they don't even have anything to with the meal we ended up having.

    what i learned though: i need to make the Everything Sauce often, and in advance. cooking the tofu your way is scary and exciting and i could lose limbs but i'd do it again cus it was so easy. the cashews are key. i almost forgot them but then i added them and they added such a great texture contrast to the soba noodles we ended up using, as well as the everything else.

    and the thing is, this dish was filling, but it didn't leave us feeling heavy. good stuff.

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    1. I am so excited you made this, Lan! I've made this a hundred times, but the pops still terrify me -- danger tofu! So happy you enjoyed -- we love it for the same reason!

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  5. This looks so good I'm going to have to try it. There is a ramen soup recipe in Vegan Eats World that is really good, but it takes forever to prepare.

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  6. My omni boyfriend and I have made this twice now--it is so delicious and easy! The only things we changes were to (1) use soba noodles and (2) lower the sugar to 1 tsp. This will undoubtedly become part of our regular repertoire. Thank you for the recipe!

    Also--I love this tofu cooking method. It removes all of the prep time, which has been a major barrier between me and cooking dinner from scratch (if I'm already hungry, I don't have time to drain and marinate tofu!). Hooray!

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    1. So happy you like, this is our regular "go-to" dish too, because it's so easy and delicious, especially after a long day!

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    2. I just wanted to let you know, again, how brilliant this cooking method is. I made this dish over the weekend (because it is great), then my boyfriend (a meat eater) wanted to have fajitas for dinner. So, I ended up using this method for the fajitas because it was already in my head. He made a double recipe of marinade (half for me, half for him). I cooked the tofu, then sauteed a bunch of peppers and onions. Next, I took the marinade and threw it in the pan and thickened it with cornstarch. Then I added the tofu and veggies. It was amazing--turned out even better than I thought, and only used one pan!

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    3. MM, I love to hear this! So happy you were able to adapt the recipe like this -- now I want to try that ... awesome idea!!

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  7. I made this for dinner last night, it was wonderful! Who knew I could get tofu the texture I want without pressing?? Thanks for the great recipe!

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    1. thanks for trying it out, and glad you enjoyed!

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  8. I made this tonight for dinner and it was excellent. I especially loved your technique for cooking tofu. It was crispy on the outside & oh, so tender in the middle (and so easy to do!). I'm so excited to have found your website. You have a new fan. :)

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    1. so happy you enjoyed Kimberly! : )

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  9. Fabulous recipe! I made it last night with a few changes since we only had brown rice, no noodles. I also cooked the kale until it charred and got kinda crispy, then coated it in a wee bit of the everything sauce, which made it sticky/chewy, then added water and a lid to steam and finish it off. My Italian (meat/cheese/pasta) boyfriend even loved it! I brought some in for lunch today and cannot WAIT to eat it. Thanks for an awesome recipe- I will definitely be following your blog.

    Rebekah
    Culinary Nutritionist

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    1. I'm thrilled that you and your bf liked it -- thanks so much for trying it out and your feedback, Rebekah!

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  10. There's only one of me in my house so I was wondering if you thought this would reheat well or if I should just go ahead and "half" it

    Found it on pinterest last night and am super excited to try it

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    1. Amanda, This reheats very well. The cornstarch will make the sauce curdle-like once it's cooled, but just throw everything into a hot pan and it will snap back into the original sauce texture.

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  11. Maybe this is a silly question, but what brand of ramen noodles do you buy?

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    1. Not a silly question at all! I typically buy mine in Chinatown -- I think they just contain wheat flour, salt and water. I did a little digging and it looks like vegan brands of ramen include Top and Nissin, although I've never seen them anywhere in Boston.

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  12. Yum !!!! This looks and sounds totally cool !!! I'm sure finding half the stuff u mentioned above is going to be literally impossible here in India

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