Homemade Soba Noodles with Tofu Lemon Ginger Sauce

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You don’t need to make your own noodles for this. In fact, mine were far less than perfect and I might’ve been happier this go-around if I had used regular noodles. But so convinced am I of the possibilities of this arrangement that I’m sharing it with you anyway.

If you don’t feel the need to homemake everything, and want it as a quick weeknight meal, even one to feed a crowd if necessary, this is a great vegetarian (vegan even, and gluten-free if you use all-buckwheat soba noodles) dish. The novelty of this particular recipe is that both ginger and garlic are raw and in fairly large quantities—the real trick is to get the right ratio of lemon-ginger-garlic, which really you can only do by tasting and adjusting.

You could even make this with raw tofu if you were feeling impatient. Although I definitely advocate soaking and frying—more flavor and fat=always good.

What else is new(s)? How about food as the feature of the World’s Fair (who knew that was still a thing?) this year? Some pretty neat innovations if you ask me. If anyone feels like sponsoring me on a trip to Italy I’ll tell you about it…

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If you do decide to make your own noodles, you will need flour (buckwheat and regular), water, a pasta machine or lots of elbow grease, possibly some other starches, and lots of patience. Rolling out all the noodles—after having kneaded the dough for a while—does take quite a bit of time.

I’m going to cheat here and link you to the recipe I used, with a few notes here. I hate making you go back and forth but The Kitchn explains it much better than I would at this point, and the Internet has enough duplication anyway. But to add some personality, a few more specifics: you can use a pasta machine to roll it out, and it’ll make it easier on you. However, make sure not to roll it too thin—I’d only go through the first couple settings, down to 5 or maybe 4 if your pasta machine is like mine (well, my roommate’s, but that’s the benefit of living with people!) and has 7 settings, 7 as the thickest. I would also not use the cutting pasta attachment (f you have one), and instead fold and cut then yourself, to make them at least half as wide. My problem was that I made the noodles too thin, and then when I cooked and mixed them around it turned into noodle mush (they may also have been overcooked). Still tasted good though—I really like the flavor of buckwheat in this dish (can you tell that buckwheat is my new obsession?).

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Alternatively, you could just do what it says to do in the recipe and roll it out my hand. I just figured, since I had a pasta machine, may as well use it.

Tofu Lemon Ginger Pasta
1 package (~1/2 lb) tofu
1/4 cup or more soy sauce
Pasta: soba noodles, linguine, or homemade of either
4 cloves garlic or to taste
A large thumb of ginger or to taste
1/2 lemon or to taste
Other seasonings, as desired (sesame oil, turmeric...)
Bok choy or other veg
Red pepper flakes
Scallions
Parmesan cheese

Start with the tofu, since that’ll take the most time (by the way, we’ve done this before)—cut into 1-inch cubes and marinate in soy sauce for as long as you can. Heat up a good 1/3 inch (more if you can spare it) of vegetable oil in a pan until quite hot and add the tofu. Stand back and cover with a mesh protector if you have one handy, it’ll spit. Let fry on one side for a few minutes, then flip them all around, and repeat, until you have little golden cubes of tofu. Remove from the pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel. If you want to make it easier on yourself, you can just cut strips of tofu and fry those (easier to flip four strips than 20 little cubes), then cut up into cubes when you take them out. Almost as good.

Boil water for pasta and cook pasta, either while the tofu is frying (for regular pasta) or right after you take it out (for fresh).

For the sauce: mince ginger and garlic until very, very fine. This is a good use for your grater (ginger) and garlic press (garlic) (if I had a garlic press I’m not sure I would use it that often, since I tend to like my garlic chunkier and you have to take out the piece that was in the press anyway and chop it up if you don’t want to waste it. But, handy for certain tasks). Put in a large bowl and squeeze half a lemon into it. Taste and adjust as necessary—you may need to do so again after the pasta is added, since it will absorb quite a bit of the flavor. Add some sesame oil and turmeric if you feel like it.

Sauté a little bok choy or other veggies (spinach? green beans? carrots even?). Mix pasta with sauce, then top with tofu, bok choy, red pepper flakes, scallions (and/or parsley) and a little parmesan if you’re feeling it, and serve. Good warm, room temperature, or cold.

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