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Monday, September 21, 2015

Stir-fried Vegetables and Tofu with Soba Noodles


This is an Asian mash-up. Lemongrass from Thailand, hoisin sauce from China, soba noodles from Japan. You, my dear reader, may be into authenticity but I am not. I look in my fridge, think about other things I've had or seen in recipes, and run with it. I don't believe in overly constraining this cooking thing, especially when I'm trying to clear a bunch of odds and ends out of the fridge.

Though you can use firm tofu straight out of the package, I prefer to use tofu that has been frozen and thawed. Freezing tofu changes its texture, and I like it better then fresh tofu in stir-fries.

For important tips on stir frying, check out this article.

Stir-fried Vegetables and Tofu with Soba Noodles
(serves 4-6)

1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
10 oz. soba (Japanese buckwheat) noodles
12 oz. firm tofu (preferably frozen and thawed), cut into 1" cubes
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (peanut and sunflower are my favorites)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
¼ teaspoon dried lemongrass
1 large carrot, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced
2 large plum tomatoes, cubed
3 cups snow peas or green beans
6 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
½ teaspoon black pepper

Before you begin slicing and dicing, rehydrate the dried mushrooms: Cover the mushrooms with boiling water and let sit as you do the prep on all the veggies. When the mushrooms are rehydrated, remove the tough stem and slice the caps.

If using green beans, cut into 1" pieces.

Dry off the tofu, gently pressing out the moisture.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the noodles.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Stir fry the tofu until lightly golden. Remove from wok with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the scallions and dried lemongrass. Cook until garlic is fragrant. Add sliced carrot. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add snow peas/green beans. Continue cooking for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently. While the beans are cooking, get the noodles in the boiling water. They take about 4 minutes to cook. Do not overcook.

Drain the noodles in a strainer and set aside. Add the hoisin sauce and soy sauce to the veggies. Stir to combine. Add in the fried tofu and the noodles. Toss to combine. Make a well in the center to expose the liquid at the bottom of the wok. Add the slurry of cornstarch and bring to a boil, stirring. This will thicken the sauce slightly, helping it to stick to the noodles. Season generously with black pepper and serve hot.

Good as a leftover though the noodles will have a softer texture after reheating.

Photo credit: By FotoosVanRobin (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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