Smoked tofu nestles in a bed of noodles and veggies. (What could be more delicious than nestling tofu?)
Most people think vegetarians must eat tofu every day, and most non-vegetarians think they don't like it. Hence a shortage of vegetarians in the world.
This is a shame. I find I cook tofu about as often as I clean my car, but it's not because I dislike the taste. In fact, tofu is as flavorful and delicious as the ingredients it's cooked with. Smoked tofu, which is becoming more common on supermarket shelves, is even more of a flavor kick, in fact in some dishes it can overpower the rest of the ingredients—watch your mild-mannered tofu cop a 'tude! (Apologies. My daughter hates it when I pretend to know slang.)
I like crisp-cooked tofu, sauteed over medium to high heat in a bit of oil, garlic and ginger until it develops a light brown color. The secret is to keep turning it until it browns on all sides.
Somen noodles are similar to soba noodles and are especially convenient for stir fries, plus they're a nice break from sticky rice and cook in a fraction of the time. Like tofu, they absorb the taste of the ginger, garlic, and liquid ingredients. And if you think broccoli rabe only belongs in Italian dishes, think again. These slim stalks are perfect for stir frying.
So go on, try tofu. And if you're wondering what to do with the carton afterward, make Chinese lanterns.
Somen Noodles with Stir Fried Vegetables and Smoked Tofu
6 oz somen noodles, cooked according to package directions
Vegetable oil for frying, about 1-2 tablespoons
1 cup broccoli rabe, or broccoli crowns
1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
tamari or soy sauce
1/2 lb smoked tofu, cubed
Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan. Saute broccoli, onion, pepper, and carrot until just tender, about 5-8 minutes. In a separate sauté pan, heat oil and sauté tofu in ginger and garlic, turning frequently until lightly browned on each side. (You can also use the same pan, after setting aside the vegetables.) When tofu is brown, add peanuts to the same pan and toast over medium heat.
Toss vegetables with 1-2 tablespoons tamari and the juice of half a lime. (Slice the other half and serve with the meal.) Top noodles with vegetables and tofu, and add garnishes: peanuts, sprouts, cilantro, chives. (I left out the sprouts, because I didn't have any. You go to stir fry with the ingredients you have, I always say.)
Serve with extra tamari and lime wedges for squeezing.
Notes on ingredients: I used beech-smoked tofu this time, but regular Chinese-style water-packed tofu is just as acceptable. Do not use the Japanese style tofu such as Mori-Nu. (Nothing wrong with it; it's just used for different dishes than stir-fries.) I used broccoli rabe simply because I had it, but it was quite good in this dish. Regular broccoli florets will do, however. Tamari is superior to soy sauce, taste-wise and health-wise, but don't rush to the store just for tamari. Regular Kikkoman will work just as well for less-discerning palates.
Japanese-style somen noodles can be found in most any well-stocked supermarket in the Asian aisle, as well as at your neighborhood Asian grocer or health food store. They're a wheat noodle, so regular thin spaghetti are a substitute, as are any Asian noodle.