Sesame Crusted Tofu with Soba Noodle Stir Fry

 

To my incredible surprise, the number of compliments I received for this sesame crusted tofu equalled all compliments I have ever gotten for making roast chicken or lamb. My family went completely gaga over it. They have always liked tofu, but never gushed over it like they did on Monday night. I have to admit, it really was very tasty, with a good crunch and great flavor. I first pressed the tofu to get rid of any excess liquid, marinaded it in a variety of things (see below) and then coated it in a simple mixture of black and white sesame seeds, cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Fried it in sesame oil and tadah!

As to the soba noodles, they are a staple in my kitchen and I use them for salads, soups and stir-fries all the time. I fry up a some ginger, a few cloves of garlic and a hot chili pepper, add vegetables and mushrooms of any kind, finish up with a seasoning of soy sauce, mirin and lime juice, add the noodles and just before serving,  sprinkle a handful of coriander, spring onions and black sesame seeds over it all. Done. The preparation is the main part, cooking takes no more than 10 minutes. Cook your soba noodles before you start on your stir-fry, taking care not to over-cook them and rinse them under cold water right after they’re done. They can sit in the colander until you are finished stir-frying the vegetables.

I fried up the tofu first and let it sit on the counter until the rest of the meal was ready. It kept its crunchiness and nobody cared that it wasn’t hot. You could however place the cooked tofu strips on a lined baking tray in a single layer and quickly reheat them in a hot oven before serving.

Serves 5

Ingredients

For the sesame crusted tofu:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs.  (500-600g) extra firm tofu

 - Marinade:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 - Crust:

  • 1/3 cup black and white sesame seeds, or white only
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (cornflour in OZ)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain sesame oil for frying

 For the soba noodle stir fry:

  • 12-14 oz (360g) soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions, rinsed under cold water, drained and set aside
  • 1.5″ (3-4com) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 chillies, seeded and minces
  • 2 tablespoons plain sesame oil
  • assortment of vegetables cut into bite sized pieces ( I used 3 medium and 6 mini zucchinis, half of a butternut squash and a small bunch kale)
  • 2 cups mushrooms ( I used oyster)
  • 5 spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves and fine stalks chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Tofu:

Place tofu between 4 sheets of paper towel and weigh it down with something heavy. This will help drain out any excess liquid. Leave for one hour. Cut tofu horizontally into 3 or 4 slices (about 1/4″ or 0.5 cm). Cut each slice into strips about 1”by 2″ (2.5 by 5 cm)

Mix together marinade and pour over tofu. A shallow baking dish works well here. Marinade for 2 hours or over night in the fridge. Turn the tofu pieces bottom to top and top to bottom half way through.

In the meantime, whisk together cornflour, sesame seeds and salt. Remove tofu from marinade and coat with sesame seed mixture on both sides. Move to a large plate until you have coated all of them. Keep remaining marinade and left over sesame seeds for stir fry!

Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a large frying pan. Fry tofu in a single layer, turning pieces over after about 4 minutes or when they turned golden on the bottom. Set aside.

Soba noddle stir fry:

In a wok or large, deep frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Add ginger, garlic and chili. Fry, stirring continuously for 1 minutes. Add vegetables, starting with the ones that take the longest time to cook. If you use pumpkin, fry the pumpkin pieces for 10 minutes before adding the next vegetable. Don’t over-cook the vegetables. You want them on the crunchy side.

Add 2 more tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon mirin and lime juice to the remaining marinade. Pour over vegetables and bring to a quick boil. Add noodles and mix them with the vegetables until heated through. Sprinkle with coriander, spring onions and any sesame seeds left over from the tofu pan. Drizzle with a little toasted sesame oil and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve stir fry with sesame crusted tofu.

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